December 13, 2005
Ethiopia and the Global Corruption Barometer
For the first time, Ethiopia has been included in Transparency International's annual Global Corruption Barometer – the organisation's attempt at keeping track of corruption levels across the world. (Here are some links to the full 29-page PDF report.)
I was surprised at the relatively high figures that came up in some of the corruption categories for the country. Perhaps I am naïve, but I have never thought of Ethiopia as a corrupt place.
A couple of years ago, we were on a two-part African holiday with one week in Cameroon sandwiched between stopover stays in Addis Ababa (we were tourists back then).
The contrast could not have been more extreme. Twenty minutes out of Cameroon's Douala airport, we were stopped by highway police who practically demanded a bribe at gunpoint. They dreamt up some traffic misdemeanour (apparently our friends' dog didn't have the right travel papers) and suggested we sort it all out by giving them a "present". Over the next few days this happened again and again. The expats out there treated it as a kind of joke, an occupational hazard of life as a Cameroonian ferengi. Business deals, government paperwork, airport customs could all be helped along with a little present.
It created an overall feeling of menacing tension which completely evaporated the moment we landed at Addis' Bole airport. In the year and a bit that I have lived in Addis, I have never been asked for a bribe. Also, no one I know would ever dream of offering one. You get the feeling the official in question would report you in a second.
The Transparency International report actually does have some good things to say about Ethiopia and corruption:
Of the eight African countries covered in the Barometer, five take an optimistic view, especially Nigeria and Ethiopia, where about half the respondents feel that corruption will decrease in the next three years.
That, of course, begs the question of Ethiopia's corruption levels right now. Here are the findings of the report relating to Ethiopia extracted by me after extensive analysis. (I used the technique of typing 'Ethiopia' into the Acrobat search box and pressing 'Go'.)
Regarding the more traditional government institutions, respondents listed the taxation authorities as constituting the gravest cause for concern. While only Ethiopia and Turkey rate their taxation agencies as the most corrupt, the public in a range of Asian and Latin American countries indicated significant levels of concern regarding this institution…
However, corruption also extends into the business world, as seen by the comparatively poor overall ranking of the private sector. Indeed, the private sector is seen as one of the three most corrupt institutions in Western Europe. Citizens from Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, as well as those from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Ethiopia signalled business groups and the private sector as institutions that are most affected by corruption…
While the military was not ranked as the most corrupt institution in any country, the ratings of a cross-section of countries, notably in Africa and Latin America, indicate that the integrity of this body is not above reproach. The public in Bolivia, Cameroon, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Taiwan, and Togo indicated concerns about the public integrity of their armed forces…
The business environment, while not thought to be as corrupt as political life at a global level, scores very poorly in many countries. This is particularly true in Africa, where at least 50% of respondents in Cameroon, Kenya and Togo believe that corruption affects the business environment to a large extent, and respondents in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Togo believed that corruption affects this sphere of life as much or more than either political life or their personal and family life…
A majority of citizens in Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru and Paraguay stated that a bribe had been directly asked of them. Approximately half of respondents from Moldova, Pakistan, Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana and Ethiopia said the same.
Thanks to a bit of alphabetical luck, figures showing perceived corruption levels in Ethiopia are actually listed next to the findings about Cameroon in one of the tables at the back. You should see a screen grab of that table above. Click on it to make it larger.
To be honest, despite all the figures, it still doesn't ring true. Perhaps I ought to intensify my research even further, print off the whole report and actually read it cover to cover.
Posted by aheavens at December 13, 2005 11:46 AM