Skip to main content

Changing bribery trends in Kenya

Five success stories; fifteen entrants

Trends in bribe paying and rent seeking in Kenya have changed over the last six years despite the still significantly low willingness of Kenyans to report corruption cases. This is the resounding conclusion of the Kenya Bribery Index 2007, launched today.

Although some sectors have seen reform and a decline in bribe-paying, the Kenyan public still bears a huge cost. “This survey shows that while bribery is reducing in some sectors, the mwananchi still bears the largest brunt of corruption. In the legal arena, bribery is being channelled through the bar. In another development, it is becoming apparent that accessing information on constituency development is also being done at a cost,” said Dr. Richard Leakey, Steering Committee Chair of Transparency International-Kenya. “When the right to justice is only obtainable by those who can afford bribes, and the right to demand accountability from your MP is being denied, there can be no equity in justice and no equality in economic empowerment.”

According to the KBI 2007 survey, five institutions have demonstrated significant improvement and exited the index. However, this positive trend is accompanied by the emergence of other previously absent institutions.

The five institutions exiting the index are: Mombasa City Council, Nairobi City Council, Registrar of Persons, Kenya Revenue Authority, and Kenya Commercial Bank.

The entrants: Transport Licensing Board(TLB), Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Public Works, the CDF office, Lawyers, Ministry of Labour, Parliament, Attorney Generals Office, International Orgs/Embassies, Kenya Wildlife Services, Insurance Companies, Public Organisations, Kenya Ports Authority, and Kenya Airports Authority.


Generally, the level of corruption experienced by Kenyans has largely remained unchanged with respondents encountering bribes in 54% of their interactions as opposed to 47% the previous year. The average number of bribes paid almost doubled to 2.5 from 1.5 per person. However, the average size of bribe paid declined from Ksh 1,700 to Ksh 1,236 [about US $25 to 18.5] indicating an increase in soliciting for smaller amounts.

Social, economic and political reforms in various sectors seem to have borne some fruit with reductions in the demand side of bribery, and improvements in service delivery under the government’s Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) are emerging.

Although the police remained the most bribery prone institution in the country, its score improved to 46.6% down from 60.3%. Additionally, the gap between the police and the second worst institution has narrowed from 90% to 30%. The police also ranked worst in only two of the five indicators, as opposed to four in the previous year. “Reform in the force seems to bear some fruit. However, media reports show that police are more blatant in demanding bribes and they still rank worst in terms of likelihood and frequency. Therefore we cannot start celebrating yet” said Dr. Leakey.

Organisations that have shown the most significant improvement are Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and State Corporations. Institutions with the most significant deterioration are the Immigration Department, NGOs/CBOs and Religious Institutions.

According to the findings, job seekers are now paying 42% more in bribes to employers and potential employers to secure jobs, reflecting the continued scarcity of employment opportunities and the increasing demand from school leavers entering the job market. The growing economy has also empowered people to pay to secure jobs.

Transparency International- Kenya therefore recommends:

  • Adoption of community based checks and balances in the management of devolved funds. This will give the mwananchi a greater say on how and who handles the projects and manages money.
  • Public service reform initiatives should give greater weight to anti-corruption reform as a core indicator of progress
  • There should be comprehensive sanctions for legal, financial and accounting professionals that engage in corrupt activities or malpractice

Download the Kenya Bribery Index from TI Kenya's website.

For any press enquiries please contact

Felgona Atieno
T: +254 20 2730324/5
E: [email protected]