The average national bribe paid for services in Kenya has increased sharply amid a scramble for tenders and jobs, new data by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) shows.
The average bribe paid for services nationwide climbed to Sh7,081.05 in 2016 from Sh5,648.58 in 2015, representing a 25 per cent jump.
This is according to a nationwide survey by the commission.
In 2012, the average bribe paid nationwide was Sh4,601.
“Obtaining tenders raked in the highest average bribe of Sh196,987.82 followed by seeking employment with Sh63,687.39,” the commission said in a report for the 2016/2017 financial year.
The race for a piece of Kenya’s mega contracts in education, railways, roads, ports and real estate has in recent years ignited tough procurement battles that have in many cases sucked in key government departments and senior public officials.
Public tenders are increasingly viewed as a sure passage to wealth and power and cartels will do whatever it takes to win them, including bribing tender committee officials to manipulate bids.
High levels of unemployment in the country, especially among the youth, is also fanning bribery as applicants battle for the few available slots.
A United Nations Human Development report released in September 2017 showed that youth unemployment in Kenya had risen to 22.2 per cent, significantly higher than in neighbouring Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Youth unemployment in Tanzania stood at 5.2 per cent, 4 per cent in Uganda while in Rwanda and Burundi, the unemployment rate was at 3.3 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively, the UN report further said.
The EACC in its survey report said that while there was a sharp decline in the proportion of people who paid bribes in 2015 at 38 per cent, compared to 2012 at 68.5 per cent, 2016 recorded a marginal increase in the proportion of people who paid bribes at 46 per cent.
“The Commission has witnessed an upsurge of reports on corruption and unethical conduct from all 47 counties,” EACC Secretary Halakhe D. Waqo says in the report.
The number of corruption complaints filed with the commission increased from 7,929 in the financial year 2015/16 to 8,044 in 2016/17, indicating a growth of 1.5 per cent.
Out of the cases filed, the commission took up 3,735 of them for investigation, of which bribery allegations constituted 36 per cent, embezzlement of public funds 22 per cent and unethical conduct 11 per cent.
Low, mid-level officers
A further breakdown of the offences showed that the bulk were orchestrated by low and mid-level officers in organisations.
“It is clear that majority of the cases received concern individuals in the middle and lower level hierarchy of organisations accounting for over 80 per cent of the reports received” the EACC said.
The commission said 48 per cent of the corruption complaints were against low level personnel such as chiefs, assistant chiefs, clerks, and council law enforcement officers while 43 per cent of the grievances were pointed at middle level officers such as inspectors and procurement officers.
The rest of the corruption complaints were filed against senior and top public officials such as Cabinet and principal secretaries, accounting officers and chief executives.