The World Bank (WB) in its report on the status of corruption in Ethiopia advised the government to audit Ethio Telecom’s large agreements.
According to the report launched this morning at the Hilton Addis, focusing on the level of corruption in the country in different sector sectors, the government needs to apply standards to Ethio Telecom that are in line with Ethiopia’s Public Procurement Proclamation.
The report, “Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia”, in its subtopic that assessed the level of corruption in the telecom sector also stated that absence of uniform procurement standards is one of the major causes of corruption, among others.
The report highlighted that the vendor financing contract entered into by the then ETC (Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation now named Ethio Telecom) in 2006 appears to be highly unusual. “...This brief study should not be seen as an investigation or interpreted as alleging in itself that corruption has necessarily occurred. However, the circumstances as perceived both by stakeholders and by independent observers do raise serious questions about the control of risks in this sector.”
The stakeholders of the then 1.5 billion US dollars vendor financing argue that ETC’s financial requirements were not provided in detail to those suppliers (other than possibly the winning supplier –China’s ZTE) that had been approached to consider providing such financing. The report also stated that there is no evidence of a formal tender procedure for the finance package.
“The supplier selected by the ETC to supply the finance package that suited the ETC’s purposes. The equipment supply element of the vendor financing contract was not put out to competitive tender.”
The report stated that generally the contract was not in accordance with the ETC’s procurement procedure and no competitive tender for the contract and subcontracts.
“Difficulty in measuring technical compliance: By appointing one supplier without competitive tender, the ETC has no opportunity to assess the degree of technical compliance of the supplier’s equipment. The contract was also inappropriate and went through unclear procedures for ensuring technical quality and competitive pricing,” according to the report.
In addition, the report further mentioned that Ethio Telecom is vulnerable to corruption because it is under government monopoly.
Health, education, water, justice, construction, land and mining are also the sectors surveyed by the report sponsored by the World Bank, Canada International Development Agency, UK Aid and the government of the Netherlands.
“Some of the recommendations of the report are under implementation,” said Ali Suleman, Commissioner of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC). While the report also recalled that in January 2008, the FEACC 2008 brought charges against a former ETC CEO and 26 former ETC executives for allegedly “procuring low-quality equipment from companies that were supposed to be rejected on the basis of procurement regulations.”
World Bank country Director, Guang Zhe Chen, on his part stressed that the purpose of the study is conducted to support evidence-based policy formation.