How US Companies are Locked Out of Lucrative Govt Tenders - Report

Ezra Manyibe | 1 week ago

In a fresh report, the US has alleged that its companies are losing out on lucrative tenders due to bribe requests and extortion by senior Kenya government officials.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai in the report said that the vice is locking out US firms from conducting business with the President William Ruto regime despite having recently negotiated trade and financing deals between the two nations.

She further cited bribery and interference within the Kenyan Judiciary as another stumbling block to free and fair business competition in the country. As a result, she notes that US companies are losing out to other foreign firms willing to forego legal upsides and give bribes for tenders.

"Corruption remains a substantial barrier in doing business in Kenya. US firms continue to report challenges competing against foreign firms willing to ignore legal standards or engage in bribery and other forms of corruption," Mrs Tai said in the report.

The US trade representative reiterated that deep-rooted corruption within the Judiciary and government both at the national and county levels continues to hinder foreign investor confidence in the country. She claimed that companies are being asked for bribes before they can bag tenders or other state approvals.

"Corruption is widely reported to affect procurements at the national and county levels. Kenya has not effectively effected its anti-corruption laws. US firms routinely report direct requests for bribes from all levels of the Kenyan Government," Tai said.

She further highlighted that both local and international efforts to increase public confidence in the Judiciary had failed to bear fruit as stalled cases and bribery continue to take a toll on its credibility and effectiveness.

"While Judiciary reforms are moving forward, bribes, extortion and political consideration continue to influence court cases. As such, foreign and local investors risk lengthy and costly legal procedures," Tai added.

In the recently planned bilateral trade between Kenya and the US, Washington inserted an anti-corruption clause in the deal.

"The text mandates procedures for the removal of public officials who are charged with or convicted of corruption, along with measures to prevent opportunities for corruption by members of the judiciary," a summary of the US Proposals to Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP) reads in part.

"To prevent the hiding of ill gotten gains, the text also includes a provision requiring the maintenance of a central register for companies to report beneficial ownership information".