By Nataliya Mykhalchenko
I have spent some time working alongside Dr. Jörg Wiegratz on a project titled ‘The Political Economy of anti-fraud measures in the Global South’. The project is aimed at analysing the various drivers, characteristics and repercussions of the anti-fraud measures in the Global South, particularly in Africa.
The main body of the project involved looking at a selection of websites of newspapers and TV stations, identifying and analysing anti-fraud measures carried out by state and non-state actors in various countries on the African continent. I managed to look at six countries: Tanzania, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda. The research revealed a number of characteristics, which include: the popularization of the anti-fraud fight via awareness raising and sensitization campaigns; the use of technology (mainly in the form of computer software) as a tool in fighting fraud in a range of sectors such as the mobile and banking industries; the involvement of international companies specialising in checking the compliance of firms with regulations and standards; the use of language in anti-fraud campaigns by both state and non-state actors that creates a sense of alarm and urgency (i.e. referring to fraud as cancer), among others.
The researched material suggests that the drivers behind such initiatives include, among others, business and consumer concerns. The furthering of business interests (ranging from aims to protect brands and retain existing markets, to attracting new customers and creating an image of ‘reliable brands’) is indeed a major motivation behind some measures, especially those initiated by private actors. There is an indication that the development of anti-fraud technology tools, such as the already mentioned computer software, and the involvement of international companies specialising in checking the compliance of firms with regulations and standards, together contribute to making anti-fraud measures a profitable business. The material also shows that the anti-fraud fight is not void of tensions and conflicts. In some instances, political and economic power of those allegedly involved in fraud is used to influence the running of investigations.
I have been interested in issues relating to political-economy and this project helped me to gain a more in-depth understanding of the dynamics and features of the political-economy with regards to the anti-fraud measures. At first, I found looking for information quite challenging. Having been a POLIS (School of Politics and International Studies) student for two years, I was used to writing analytical essays with the use of a range of academic sources to back up my arguments. However, this type of research was different. The topic of anti-fraud measures is not widely researched, thus, I had to gather secondary data and analyse it without the backing of academic sources.
Nataliya Mykhalchenko is a third year International Development student at the University of Leeds. Her project was on the political economy of anti-fraud measures in Africa and is informed by the ongoing research of Dr. Jörg Wiegratz on anti-fraud measures in Uganda.