By Eugene Uwimana
(Photo Credit: Reuters)
Rwanda this week hosted the annual Anti-Corruption Excellence Award ceremony to highlight and encourage successes against graft, including at home. Transparency International ranks Rwanda as the fourth-least corrupt country in Africa, behind the Seychelles, Botswana, and Cape Verde.
Rwanda and Qatar co-hosted this year’s Anti-Corruption Excellence Award ceremony — known as the ACE awards — to recognize and support efforts to reject graft. The award is given by the Qatar-backed Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Center.
The African Union Commission estimates that illicit financial flows in Africa average at least $50 billion per year, although other estimates are higher.
However, Transparency International ranks Rwanda the fourth-least corrupt country in Africa, and the second-least corrupt on the mainland, after Botswana.
“Compared to other African countries, I can say that Rwanda at least tries do its best, even if we still have a long way before us,” said Marie Immaculee Ingabire, the chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda.
Putting government services online is one measure Rwanda has taken to reduce corruption. In homes, you can see people apply for services online, which reduces the possibility they will be asked for a bribe by a service provider.
While higher-level corruption is no longer rampant, Rwandans say you can still run into local corruption.
"In many cases, you find that for a local leader to help you at the local sector level, he sometimes tells you 'Buy me a beer," said Issa Nshimiyimana, a 26-year Rwandan motorist. "It is done like this, without respecting the law."
Nigeria is routinely ranked as one of the more corrupt nations in Africa.
At a Nigeria-hosted African Union summit on corruption in June, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said facing down graft was a choice.
“This is a campaign that can be won. Tolerating corruption is a choice, not an inevitability. It is within our power to end it. That is the most important starting point. Otherwise it would be a waste of time for us to keep talking about it,” he said.
Along with the anti-corruption summit in Kigali, Qatar sponsored a monument in Rwanda that represents public solidarity in the ongoing fight against graft. The imposing steel hand, with all five fingers stretched out into the sky, has become the newest monument in Kigali, warning passers-by not to cross the red line into corruption.
This article was originally published on Voice of America.