Ethiopia’s Expanding Sectors Prone to Corruption

By IndepthAfrica
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Jan 11th, 2013
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Martha van der Wolf, VOA
ADDIS ABABA — A new study says the fastest-growing sectors of Ethiopia’s economy, such as telecommunications, land management and construction, are prone to corruption.  A study conducted by the World Bank and the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission was made public on Friday.

At the same time, the study praises Ethiopia for its generally low levels of corruption compared to other low-income countries.

Rupert Bladon of the World Bank says fast growing sectors are more vulnerable to corruption but that steps can be taken to reduce the practice.

“I think it needs a combination of efforts.  I think you need strong regulatory frameworks, and also strong institutions and people working in those institutions helping to oversee the regulation of those,” he said. “In terms of areas where you have large procurement, it’s very important that there are transparent regulations that are being followed across the public sector.”

Fast growing sectors in developing countries such as Ethiopia are instrumental to economic growth.   The study focused on eight different sectors.

The telecommunications sector is at high risk, according to the study, because of weak accountability and the monopoly position of the telecom service provider.

Abdurahim Ahmed of Ethiotelecom is not impressed with the findings of the research:

“The research states that this country has a strong policy framework.  This means the policy of this company emanates from the government’s policy, which the research puts as a strong policy framework.  So the monopolistic framework emanates from the country’s policy,” he said. “There is nothing that had been presented that correlates these two, the monopolistic nature and the reason that it will become prone to corruption.”

Ethiotelecom does not see corruption as a top priority at the moment, but they did say they would look into the report’s recommendation to improve accountability within the company.

The Ethiopian government has already started to change its land policy to reduce corruption.  The chairman of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Ali Suleiman says much more is administrated and registered than before:

“The government had no data which part of the land was occupied or owned by somebody. Because of this lack of registration it was easy for people, for engineers, for land managers, to corrupt with this plot of land,” he said. “But now a database has been started to be implemented and the procedures, how to get title deeds, how to prove ownership – all this starting from policy registrations and directives started to be implemented.”

Examples of other efforts to reduce corruption can be found in the construction sector.  Any transaction over  $162,000 (3 million Ethiopian birr) has to be published on a website.  This is also an effort to change public perception.  The study reports that the public perception does not correspond with the actual level of corruption.

Chairman Ali says the level of corruption is much lower than other low-income and developing countries, but that there is a perception that corruption is rampant in the East African country:

“In all sectors it proves there is a disparity between perception and reality.  Our assignment is to see the reason why people perceive in such a way,” Ali added. “I think one reason because we lack transparence in our public services and maybe people they don’t differentiate between inefficiency and corruption – maybe any delay, any inefficiency, maybe translated to corruption.”

Ethiopia scored 113 out of 176 countries in the 2012 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, the anti-corruption watchdog.

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