African activists are increasingly turning to technology to fight endemic corruption
Websites allow victims of graft to share their bribe stories online and track incidents of corruption
They contain detailed information about the amount of money paid and the location of the bribe
Students asked to fork out thousands of Kenyan shillings for a bursary; drivers pushed to pay police officers for traffic offences; people asked to shell out large sums to speed up the process of getting a new passport or making a land transfer.
These are just some of the most common reports of bribery that can be found in ipaidabribe.or.ke, a recently-launched website dedicated to battling rampant public corruption in Kenya and uncovering its economic impact.
The initiative, which was launched last December by Antony Ragui, a 37-year-old financial services consultant, allows victims of graft to share their bribe stories anonymously and track incidents of corruption online.
“I came back to the country from the States about four years ago and I would listen to a lot of Kenyans complain about corruption on social media, on Twitter, on private blogs and I basically got tired of it,” says Ragui. “I said now it’s time for me to do something different.”
Based on a similar site launched a few years ago in India to curb corruption, Ragui’s online platform is divided in three categories, containing detailed information about the amount of money paid and the location of the bribe.
The first section contains stories about bribes that were paid, breaking down the numbers by region and government department. The second collects stories from people who refused to pay a bribe, while the third contains stories of honesty, where citizens were not asked to pay a public official.
Until now, Ragui’s site has hosted nearly 600 cases of, mainly petty, bribery worth around 17 million Kenyan shillings (£204,000).
“Corruption is a huge issue: it’s so endemic and the worst part about it is it becomes a way of life,” says Ragui, who’s also about to roll out an SMS service that will allow citizens to report their stories instantaneously via their mobile phones.
“So what I’m trying to do with the site essentially is to get people to create a network of anti-corruption people – people who feel that this has to come to an end and we need to make a difference.”
According to anti-corruption group Transparency International, Kenya is one of the world’s most corrupt countries. The group’s 2011 East African Bribery Index said that there is a 67% chance that Kenyans would be expected to pay a bribe every time they intera