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Kenya: Digital Activists Fight Corruption Online

I Paid a Bribe is an initiative of Kenyan anti-corruption activists fighting corruption in Kenya using the new technologies to crowdsource corruption experiences. I Paid a Bribe, modeled after India's anti-corruption portal (IPAB), is a partnership between IPAB and Wamani Trust of Kenya to bring IPAB to East and Central Africa.

I Paid a Bribe is:

www.ipaidabribe.or.ke is Wamani Trust's unique initiative to tackle corruption by harnessing the collective energy of citizens. You can report on the nature, number, pattern, types, location, frequency and values of actual corrupt acts on this website. Your reports will, perhaps for the first time, provide a snapshot of bribes occurring across your city. We will use them to argue for improving governance systems and procedures, tightening law enforcement and regulation and thereby reduce the scope for corruption in obtaining services from the government.

We invite you to register any recent or old bribes you have paid. Please tell us if you resisted a demand for a bribe, or did not have to pay a bribe, because of a new procedure or an honest official who helped you. We do not ask for your name or phone details, so feel free to report on the formats provided.

The initiative launched the ‘I paid a Bribe Kenya’ integrated SMS system in May this year to allow over 25 million Kenyans with access to a mobile phone to report and share their bribe experiences on the site:

To share their bribe experience using I paid a Bribe Kenya's SMS short code, one needs to send an SMS to the number 2025 indicating County, Department, amount.


There are three ways Kenyans can share their bribe experiences on the site:

Kenyans can report their bribe experiences either using the web version of the site (ipaidabribe.or.ke), the mobile version (m.ipaidabribe.or.ke) or the 2025 SMS short code. SMS to 2025 will be charged at KES 5

How does sharing corruption experiences online contribute to the fight against corruption? Collins Baswony explains:

Fact 2: ‘Petty’ Corruption mostly goes unreported in Kenya

9 out of 10 respondents surveyed in the East African Bribery Index 2011 said they did not report cases of corruption. YES 9 out of 10.

As long as cases of ‘petty corruption’ continue to go unreported, public officials will continue to misuse their offices for private gain.

Fact 3: Corruption impedes Kenya’s Socio -economic development

The combined cost of Kenya’s prominent corruption scandals: Goldenberg of the 90’s, Anglo-leasing, Maize and oil scandals of 2000’s and the dollar/Kenyan shilling scandal of 2011 to the Kenyan economy is no doubt significant. Imagine if all this money was put into development of infrastructure, healthcare, education etc.

As Kenya trudges into the future with the vision 2030 as the blueprint for the country’s economic, Social and political development, Corruption remains one of the most significant challenges to that goal. Vision 2030 will remain a mirage in the horizon if Kenyans don’t collectively talk about and engage in the fight against corruption.

An anonymous visitor on the site adds:

Not talking about it only makes it worse and it becomes acceptable because no one is complaining. As Kenyans we have the tendancy to just accept the status quo and not question why things cant be different, and they can.

In this new age that we live in, where technology and social media have become a way of life, information can gather and spread very rapidly putting issues in the spotlight.

The more we talk about it, the more attention it gathers and leaders and policy makers are forced to address the issue. Please don't stop talking about corruption and the toll it is taking on our society and making it rot from within.

Another one notes:

Kenyan's suffer from serious memory lapse! we only discuss corruption when we are face with major scandal's, yet petty corruption probably ”steals” 30% of our household income, depletes our resources and erodes our moral values. It will be difficult if not impossible to meet our goals for Vision 2030 if dont say no to petty corruption.
Petty corruption affects the middle class and poor. While major corruption is only ”enjoyed ” by the super rich!

The initiative is on Facebook and Twitter.

Corruption among politicians and government officials in Kenya is widespread. The Goldenberg scandal is the longest-running corruption scandal in Kenya in which the Kenyan government subsidized exports of gold. The Goldenberg scandal cost Kenya the equivalent of more than 10% of the country's annual GDP.

*Thumbnail image courtesy of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

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