Too Many Hands in Kenya’s Cookie Jar

Just days after President Obama finished up his trip to Africa, which included a stop in Nairobi, Kenya’s auditor-general released a damning report of the country’s endemic corruption problem. The London Times explains:

Only 1 per cent of government spending in Kenya can be properly accounted for, according a report by the country’s auditor-general, in a stunning indication of its corruption problem.

His annual report to parliament said that 1.2 per cent of the 1 trillion shilling (£6 billion) expenditure “was incurred lawfully and in an effective way”.

Edward Ouko said that 60 per cent — £3.8 billion — of the 2013-2014 budget “had issues” and he was unable to confirm whether further expenditure totalling more than £2 billion fulfilled the requirements of the constitution. The report includes allegations of theft, incompetence, waste, misspending and corruption on a huge scale.

The fact that only one percent of Kenya’s spending can properly be accounted for is an eye-popping statistic. And it gets even worse when you consider that, last year, Transparency International ranked Kenya 145th out of 175 countries measured for corruption, so there could be more than a handful of other countries battling corruption problems that are as bad as, if not worse than, Kenya’s.

But there is good news from this story too; that Ouko takes his responsibilities seriously enough to undertake this investigation and release the report is encouraging. In a lot of countries, especially those that orbit around Kenya in the Transparency International index, a figure like the one in Ouko’s report would never even be published, and an auditor who actually tried to keep track of government spending would mysteriously end up dead.

As President Obama remarked during his visit to the country, “Too often, here in Kenya, corruption is tolerated because that’s how things have always been done.” But Ouko has done something different. His report will surely bring criticism to Nairobi, but his courage may soon be seen as a brave step forward in the fight against corruption.

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service