A survey by Transparency International Kenya and TradeMark East Africa ( TMEA ) reveals that regulatory authorities in East Africa demand the highest amount of bribes from transporters and drivers along the transport corridors.
According to the report titled Bribery as a non-tariff barrier to trade; a case study of East African trade corridors, Tanzania’s regulatory authorities ranked worst at USD 12, 640 (Kshs. 1,074,400) followed by Kenya at USD6, 715 (Kshs. 570,775), Uganda was third at USD3, 672 (Kshs.312, 120) while Rwanda ranked fourth at USD 679 (Kshs. 57,715) and Burundi had the lowest at USD293 (Kshs. 24,905).
The survey conducted in collaboration with Transparency International chapters in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Transparency forum in Tanzania further indicates that bribery costs in Tanzania per year consisted of about 18.6% of the value of goods transported.
Speaking during the launch, Mr. Richard Sindiga the Director of Economic Affairs in the EAC Ministry, said: “By reducing or eliminating tariffs and working to minimize non-tariff barriers across the EAC, the governments in partner states can ease the flow of people and goods across borders. This will create larger markets, enable economies of scale, and promote local, regional, and global trade, which, in turn, will foster a dynamic environment for economic growth across the entire region from which Kenyan and East African businesses will benefit. However, the problem of non-tariff barriers in the EAC is widespread and requires joint effort to eliminate them.”
Mr. Sindiga said that the Kenyan Government is doing everything possible to eliminate the barriers but also concedes that the war is far from being won. He said the ministry is finalizing a survey to find out, why NTBs persist even after the council of ministers had directed partner states to eliminate them and also get the opinion of the stakeholders on what could be done to eliminate the persisting NTBs.
Transparency International Kenya Executive Director, Samuel Kimeu commented on bribes as a non-tariff barrier to doing business in the region. “Corruption serves as an unnecessary cost of doing business and as an additional burden to the consumer. Left unchecked, the vice will make this region uncompetitive.” He also noted that the full benefits of integration will not be achieved unless decisive efforts are put in place to confront corruption in the trade and transport sectors.
TradeMark East Africa which funded this study was represented by Lisa Karanja, Director of Private Sector and Civil Society. “Regional integration is gaining pace but existence of non-tariff barriers continues to be a deterrent in the full implementation of the various protocols. TMEA commissioned this study with a view to enhance the advocacy for the elimination of non-tariff barriers. We expect a comprehensive dialogue between state and non-state actors to address the key issue highlighted by this report. A resolution of the identified issue will lead to a more competitive business environment which will result in increased trade and ultimately prosperity for East Africans”.