Letters

Private sector role in the fight against corruption in Kenya

corruption

Summary

  • We all know that corruption is a big issue in Kenya, costing an estimated Sh6 billion a year, according to that famous estimate by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
  • In developing countries, according to the UNDP, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

The International Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated on December 9 annually. This year’s theme is ‘Your right, your role: Say no to corruption’ that seeks to highlight the rights and responsibilities of everyone in tackling corruption.

We all know that corruption is a big issue in Kenya, costing an estimated Sh6 billion a year, according to that famous estimate by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

But did you know that according to the UN, approximately $1 trillion are paid in bribes every year while more than two times that — $2.6 trillion — is stolen annually through corruption? This is equivalent to more than five per cent of the global GDP.

In developing countries, according to the UNDP, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

We have no doubt made some progress in slaying the dragon, moving 20 places in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index ranking in the last five years (Kenya is ranked 124 out of 180 by the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2020).

We now see some high-profile court cases, although we need to see more of the same. The passing and recent operationalisation of the Bribery Act of 2016 aimed at enhancing strong governance and enforcing personal accountability on the management of organisations that breach the public trust, will no doubt be a key cog in these efforts.

While the principal responsibility of tackling corruption rests with the country’s leadership, organisations both public and private should develop their own frameworks to combat corruption.

GlaxoSmithKline Anti-Bribery & Corruption programme is an example.

GSK has made considerable efforts in ensuring matters concerning bribery and corruption are appropriately addressed with a robust programme to ensure neither GSK staff nor third parties that act on GSK’s behalf bribe or are bribed by government, regulatory bodies, or private sector entities

In industries such as pharmaceutical, wanton bribery may have fatal consequences. Imagine what would happen if a company bribed a doctor to prescribe their products with a bonus motive, thus ignoring the science? It’s obvious that the patients and at times the exchequer will be the loser.

That’s why GSK and a few peers formed the Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industries and have been key contributors to the KAPI code of conduct that seeks to ensure that member companies conduct promotion and interaction in a truthful manner.

The fight against bribery and corruption is a duty and responsibility of every citizen. Individuals represent different cultures, raised in various environments bringing a unique way in which one may react or interpret aspects including bribery and corruption.

Kenya needs to break down corruption into more relatable events, incorporate this in education programmes, have local champions who understand the local context and can act as change agents.