The Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) last week announced that the economic bloc has developed a protocol on preventing and combating corruption in the five member states.
Research has indicated that corruption levels vary drastically across the EAC member states.
According to a recent survey by Transparency International, Rwanda is the least corrupt in the EAC region, with only 6 percent of its national budget believed to be lost, yearly, through corrupt tendencies, while Burundi was found the most corrupt where graft was rated at 38 percent of the country’s total national income.
Uganda was rated the second most corrupt, losing an average total of 36 percent of its national income to graft, Kenya came third with an estimated 29 percent of national income lost annually through corruption, while Tanzania emerged the second least corruption in the bloc, losing about 28 percent of national income to corrupt officials.
When added up, EAC member states lose an average 27 percent of their national budgets to corruption. In monetary terms, corruption in the EAC region runs into billions of US dollars.
These funds, if well spent, can greatly improve the livelihoods of the EAC citizens.
With such levels of corruption, the situation is worrisome for potential investors, who are targeting EAC as a single investment destination. If EAC is to succeed in attracting major investments and if it’s to become a model economic bloc for the rest of the continent, there must be a deliberate effort from each member state to genuinely tackle corruption.
The EAC Secretariat should actively encourage member states to share experiences, and to learn best practices from each other. The region also needs to put more emphasis on homegrown initiatives, which have evidently helped contain the vice in Rwanda.
The EAC people share common challenges and aspirations, and need common strategies to defeat corruption.