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Friday, 31 July 2009

Kenya most corrupt country in East Africa, says poll

A SURVEY by an anti-graft watchdog has found Kenya east Africa's most graft-prone nation with a bribe expected or solicited in nearly half of all transactions, followed by Uganda and Tanzania.

The inaugural East Africa Bribery Index, according to Reuters yesterday, showed Kenya's police force was the most corrupt public institution with 66.5 per cent bribery rate.

The index focused on seven bribery indicators: likelihood of encountering bribery, the prevalence, severity, frequency and impact of bribery, the average size of the bribe and the contribution of bribery to an organisation's income.

Measured on those criteria, Kenya's overall bribery rate was 45 per cent, Uganda's 35 per cent and Tanzania's 17 per cent.

The survey was commissioned by the Kenya division of Transparency International (TI), which has been publishing a separate bribery index for Kenya since 2002.

"The ranking of key public service delivery agencies ... shows that the public service in east Africa is riddled with corruption," said Job Ogonda, the group's executive director.

Corruption and red tape were cited as a headache by east African corporate bosses in a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers published in April.

The World Bank says higher costs for businesses due to corruption, as well as poor infrastructure or insecurity, are "invisible costs" that can hit competitivity with other regions in the world.

Kenya's police force has dominated the Kenyan bribery index since it was first published.

Kenyans expect to being asked for bribes, known as "kitu kidogo" - a little something - to get most services, and so they rarely report such incidents.

Tanzania's police was ranked second most corrupt public institution with a 62.6 per cent bribery rate followed by Kenya's Ministry of Defence on 61.9 per cent and Tanzania's judiciary and courts on 61.5 per cent.

The least corrupt public institution was Uganda's Postal Corporation with a rate of 2.3 per cent.

The survey was compiled from responses from 10,517 people in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

High unemployment and a harsh economic climate also contributed to an increase in bribery, said Ogonda, as candidates buy their way into a highly competitive jobs market.

"Cases of unemployment-related bribery in Kenya rose from six per cent in 2008 to 11 per cent in 2009 ... Tanzania, 41 per cent of the total value of bribes paid were for employment related issues," he said.

Kenya is the region's economic powerhouse with a gross domestic product of $35 billion. Growth plunged to 1.7 per cent in 2008 from 7.1 percent in 2007 due to post-election violence, bad weather and the global slowdown.

Tanzania's growth will slow to 5 percent in 2009, a Reuters' poll showed, while Ugandan growth is seen slowing to 5.5 per cent in 2009

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