Rwanda's energy docket ranked most corrupt due to high power demand

Sunday December 17 2017

Rwanda Energy Group workers setting up a street

Rwanda Energy Group workers setting up a street light pole in Kigali. The country's power sector has been ranked the most corrupt in 2017. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA  

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
More by this Author

Rwanda's power sector has been ranked the most corrupt in the country this year, with the high bribery rates being driven by the high demand for connections to the power grid.

The average value of bribes is also high above the earning power of many Rwandans, which then locks them out from accessing public services.

Worryingly, citizens also appear to be growing despondent with the number of those willing to report a bribe reducing.

The 2017 Rwanda Bribery Index released by Transparency International Rwanda, shows the prevalence of bribery in electricity services more than doubled during the year, increasing from 3.6 per cent in 2016 to 8.6 per cent this year.
Meanwhile the police traffic department, which has in the past emerged as the most corrupt institution, saw the prevalence of bribery decline to 11.9 per cent in 2017, from 20 per cent last year.
However, the report also mentions traffic police, the tertiary education subsector and civil society among the institutions where bribery was most prevalent.

Demands for bribes

The 2017 Rwanda Bribery Index said demands for bribes and offers of inducements are a challenge in a number of high-demand services in the local government.

Advertisement

Turning a blind eye to unlawful construction topped the list followed by fraudulently obtained lumbering permits standing at 32.9 per cent and 29.8 per cent respectively.

Other local government services with high prevalence of bribery involve tender awards at 16 per cent, the pro-poor Girinka programme at 13.2 per cent along with execution of judgements and issuance of construction and renovation permits.

The pro-poor Girinka programme involves members of a community giving their poorer neighbours cows. The government revived the programme as a way of fighting poverty and malnutrition through access to animal protein and manure to improve soil fertility.

Average value bribe

The report also shows that the average value of a bribe remains high at Rwf36,173 ($2), way above the monthly income of many low-income and poor citizens whose average income is estimated at about Rwf10,000 ($117) by Transparency International.

Appolinaire Mupiganyi, the executive manager at Transparency International Rwanda said this implies that an average person would need to save for a long time to afford to bribe for services in both the private and public sectors.

Mr Mupiganyi told Rwanda Today recruitment in the public and private sectors is particularly prone to bribery, which discourages many poor people from applying because they cannot afford the bribe.

For instance, the findings show that one would pay at least Rwf77,455 ($90) to bribe a Rwanda Revenue officer for a lower tax assessment or waver; Rwf27,511 ($32) to bypass bureaucracy at a local government office, Rwf175,138 to get a loan from a bank and Rwf61,705 to get a driving permit.

Lowest bribes

The lowest average amount of a bribe over the past 12 months was paid in water and electricity services amounting to Rwf14,133 ($16) and Rwf12,594 ($14) respectively followed by medical services at Rwf4,930 ($5).

According to the report, the bribery incidence decreased marginally from 24.4 per cent last year to 23.9 per cent this year. The report also showed low reporting levels, and in most cases the action taken was not satisfactory. 

An earlier report had raised a similar concern, citing a falling trend in corruption reporting between 2014 and 2016.

“Raising awareness together with incentives such as witness protection should be implemented to reverse the trend,” said Transparency International Rwanda.

The watchdog particularly wants the Ministry of Public Service and all public institutions to put in place anti-corruption policies and reporting mechanisms to detect and deter corrupt practices particularly for services that are in high demand.

Related stories: