I Paid a Bribe: Kenyan Website

I PAID A BRIBE is a neat site that allows Kenyan citizens to report where they must pay bribes, to which sector, and for how much. The initiative is modeled on an Indian site, where concerns about corruption have been central to political debate in recent years.

Although one might worry that such a site might allow individuals to carry out personal vendettas, according to the story in Kenya’s Daily Nation, it strips away names of bribe-taking officials. Undoubtedly this will cause some consternation among various political leaders, bureaucrats, and police — who so far are reported to be the most prolific bribe-takers — and they will try to find ways to discredit the information generated.

I continue to be attracted to the proposition that more information will promote greater government accountability, which is the heart of the Twaweza model. But the question is whether the data generated will be new information for any Kenyans (so far, the comments on the site highlight simply that citizens think corruption is being under-reported) and what might be done with the information? I love the idea, but it’s not yet clear to me that hard numbers will be more effective than general perceptions in changing patterns of graft in government. Perhaps the most promising use of these data would be if they were able to conclusively demonstrate a reduction in corruption, resulting from some other anti-corruption initiative.