The Great Swindle: How Fake Certificates Cost the Govt Billions

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Our analysis has revealed the government, under the leadership of President William Ruto, has incurred losses amounting to over Ksh9 billion due to employees wielding counterfeit academic certificates.

This revelation emerged following President Ruto’s announcement that over 2,100 employees joined the public service sector with fake academic papers.

To put this colossal figure into perspective, it surpasses the equitable share received by all but seven counties in the financial year ending June 2022.

The specter of counterfeit credentials has long haunted Kenya's bureaucratic corridors.

However, President Ruto's administration has taken a decisive stance by calling upon individuals within the public service possessing spurious certificates to resign and reimburse the government for earnings accrued under false pretenses.

The brunt of this crackdown is poised to affect thousands of support staff, constituting a significant portion of Kenya's expansive public service workforce.

Casual workers and public servants wielding fraudulent academic qualifications are set to bear the initial repercussions as the government grapples with the ballooning public wage bill.

This revelation surfaced following the culmination of the 2024 National Wage Bill conference, where pivotal resolutions were reached, poised to reverberate throughout Kenya's public service sector if implemented.

Foremost among these resolutions is the mandate for all national and county government agencies to conduct comprehensive reviews of their staff establishments, ensuring alignment with legally stipulated skillset requirements.

At the heart of this controversy lies a comprehensive audit initiated by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in October 2022.

This audit unearthed a staggering tally of 2,067 counterfeit academic and professional certificates utilised to secure positions within government institutions over the past decade.

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Leading the pack is the Ministry of Interior, topping the charts with the highest incidence of staff possessing dubious qualifications. The audit, encompassing 331 institutions, including ministries, state departments, agencies, state corporations, semi-autonomous bodies, and public universities, demanded stringent compliance.

However, despite concerted efforts, only a fraction of institutions adhered to the audit's directives. Of the 58,599 cases scrutinised, a substantial 1,280 were flagged as forged, underscoring the pervasive nature of this malpractice.

Moreover, a distressing revelation emerged regarding 787 officers across ministries, state departments, and agencies who secured appointments and promotions through the use of falsified documents.

How we arrived at Ksh9.25 billion

To ascertain the magnitude of the financial losses incurred by the government due to employees with fake certificates, a meticulous analysis of expenditure was undertaken. This analysis hinges on two pivotal figures: the average remuneration of civil servants in the highest and smallest job grades.

The government disburses an average of Ksh12,997 to civil servants in the highest job grade, while those in the smallest job group receive approximately Ksh434,442. Utilising these figures, coupled with the Public Service Commission's revelation of 2,067 individuals holding fraudulent credentials, a stark reality emerges.

The calculation reveals that over the course of President Ruto's twenty-month tenure, the government has suffered losses amounting to a staggering Ksh9.25 billion. However, employing President Ruto's slightly higher figure of 2,100 individuals with fake certificates, the losses escalate to Ksh9.4 billion, underlining the gravity of the situation.

To ensure a comprehensive understanding, a scenario was envisioned where all 2,067 individuals were placed in the smallest job group. In this scenario, the government's losses are estimated at Ksh537 million during the same period. Conversely, if these employees were considered to belong to the higher job groups, the losses remain approximately Ksh9.25 billion.


The implications of these astronomical losses are profound and far-reaching. Notably, the sum lost surpasses the annual budget allocations of the majority of counties. Only seven counties received in excess of Ksh9 billion in the 2021/2022 fiscal year.

With Ksh9.25 billion at its disposal, the Ministry of Education could embark on a transformative endeavour, constructing over 30,000 classrooms to accommodate Junior Secondary School (JSS) learners.

Furthermore, the allocation of Ksh3.9 billion for the construction of 15,021 classrooms in December 2023 pales in comparison to the potential impact of Ksh9.25 billion.

Additionally, the funds lost could have been directed toward settling outstanding obligations owed to private hospitals by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF). With Ksh6.1 billion owed to approximately 400 rural hospitals, the allocation of Ksh9.25 billion to the Ministry of Health could alleviate the financial strain on these vital healthcare providers.

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The revelation that Ksh9 billion could significantly dent the country's wage bill, as evidenced by the expenditure of Ksh19.61 billion in salaries by State Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in March 2024.

While the actual figure of how much the government has lost is unclear, what our analysis shows is if the employees serving with fake certificates pay the government back, President Ruto could have more money to redirect to some of his pet projects, like that of affordable housing.