Perceived corruption in Rwanda’s public procurement system stands at 63.3 percent while 79 percent of government tender bidders admitted to have encountered corruption requests with 18 percent of them agreeing to pay.
A study conducted by Transparency International Rwanda, released early this month, said that at least Rwf14.2 billion (approximately $14.2 million) was spent in corruption instances in the past 12 months in the infrastructure sector alone. Respondents said ministries are the biggest receivers of bribes and the going rate is between Rwf10 million ($10,000) to Rwf120 million ($120,000) depending on the value of the contract.
The study conducted in March, looked at the integrity and transparency of the public procurement system in the country’s infrastructure sector. Researchers concluded that public procurement in the infrastructure sector was the most prone to corruption, lacking transparency and integrity.
“Corruption in procuring infrastructure is unique and numb to anti-corruption laws because it is a win-win situation, nobody reports nor complains,” said Enock Byiringiro, a researcher at Transparency International Rwanda.
The study surveyed 473 bidders from across Rwanda, and asked questions about integrity, competition, efficiency and accountability in public procurement. Ninety eight percent of the respondents said they have offered their bids to local government and public entities.
Respondents pointed out that inefficiencies by procuring firms such as changing contracts after they have already been signed, shortlisting fictitious firms and inaccessible bidding documents risk chances of having to pay bribes to ease the process.
“In most cases, bidders pay to ease complex procedures in the procurement systems or bribing procurement committees in the local government to compromise contacts and competition process,” said Papias Kazawadi, a member of the Federation of Engineers in Rwanda.
Corruption in the public procurement system was called out by President Paul Kagame in his remarks at a ceremony to launch the 2021/2021 judicial year held in parliament on September 6. Referring to the Transparency International Rwanda report, President Kagame said there has been pervasive corruption in public tenders especially with infrastructure projects, adding that such officers tarnish the country’s image.
The latest Auditor-General’s report that was launched in March pointed out multiple infrastructure projects that were either cancelled or overpriced due to procurement faults.