When? "2018"? And what about The Gambia?

Civis Mundi Digitaal #85

door Michel van Hulten, Kaunain Rahman

“2018”, do the 13 sources of CPI 2018 use the results of data collection in that year?
The short answer is ‘NO’. For a full answer we need more words and make use of a TI-provided example, The Gambia.
For this analysis of the historical value of the CPI 2018 sources and the data which they provide I took from the website https://www.transparency.org/cpi2018 (scroll down on the Homepage till below the Press Release, you will find ‘Resources and Downloads’. Click on the last one button ‘Source Descriptions’), you will reach the full texts of the 13 ‘Source descriptions’. From these some selected information is reproduced below in table 1 showing that most CPI-data originate from 2017 or the early months of 2018.
It is important to have a look at calenderdates as too many reactions on the CPI 2018 claim improvements or deteriorations in scores (and as a consequence also in the rank order number of countries) as depending on events that happened after the source finalised the field work on collecting data. A good example of this impossible historical sequence is found in the following article on The Gambia published by TI and originating from the same offices that also produced the CPI 2018.

Table 1, CPI 2018, published 29 january 2019 (data extracted from the TI-CPI 2018)


Data provider

Sources and Dates of collecting and processsing field data

Date of publication by the provider of the data + website


AfDB 2016 – CPIA - Country Policy and Institutional Assessment

The 2016 Governance Ratings compiled between Sept and Nov 2016 [1] .
Biennial exercise starting around mid-Sept in the even numbered years and concludes end of Nov the same year[2]

March 2017

Publicly available online at https://cpia.afdb.org/?page=data
Data are not provided for all 54 African countries (members of AfDB)[3], only for 38 ADF-countries.


Bertelsmann Stiftung, Sustainable Governance Indicators 2018

Sustainable Governance Indicators assess the period beginning 7 Nov 2016 and ending 8 Nov 2017. Explicit mention is made: ‘Developments after Nov 8, 2017 can therefore not be considered’ (page 15).

End of June 2018, in print.
Publicly available online at http://www.sgi-network.org/2018/Downloads


Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index 2018

Data is taken from the BTI 2018 report. The assessment was made until 31 Jan 2017.

Published in March 2018

Publicly available online at http://www.bti-project.org/en/home/


Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Service 2018

The CPI draws on risk rating data available as of September 2017.

Year of publication: 2018

Data is available to subscribers of EIU Country Risk Service. http://www.eiu.com.


Freedom House Nations in Transit 2018 (NIT)

The 2017 NIT data coverage is from 1 Jan 2017 through 31 Dec 2017.

Publicly available online at: https://freedomhouse.org/report/nations-transit/nations-transit-2018


Global Insights Business Conditions and Risk Indicators 2017

Data from IHS Global Insight was accessed through the World Bank World Governance Indicators portal, as IHS Global Insight stopped providing data to TI in 2015. To be accessed through: http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#doc-sources


Detailed data available to customers of IHS’ Country Intelligence: http://www.ihs.com/products/global-insight/country-analysis/


IMD (Intern. Institute for Management Development) World Competitiveness Center

Yearbook 2018

The data was collected from Febr to April 2018.

Data is available to customers of IMD WCY, package of online services. https://worldcompetitiveness.imd.org/


Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Asian Intelligence (PERC) 2018

The data used for the CPI 2018 was gathered in a survey carried out between January 2018 and March 2018

Published in March 2018.

The data is available to subscribers under http://www.asiarisk.com/subscribe/exsum1.pdf


PRS Group Intern. Country Risk Guide 2018

The CPI 2018 data is an aggregate of quarterly assessments covering the period of Sept 2017 to Aug 2018.

Data available to customers of the PRS International Country Risk Guide at www.prsgroup.com


WB Country Policy and Institutional Assessment 2017

The ratings process typically starts in the Autumn and is concluded in the spring of the following year.

The scores disclosed in June 2018 cover 2017 country performance.

June 2018

Publicly available online at: http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/CPIA


World Economic  Forum Executive Opinion Survey 2018


The data was gathered in a survey conducted between Jan and April 2018.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2018
is available online under

www3.weforum.org/docs/GCR2018/05FullReport/TheGlobalCompetitivenessReport2018.pdf  .


World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2017-2018

Data for computing this index was collected in 2017.

Publicly available online under http://data.worldjusticeproject.org/


Varieties of Democracy Project 2018

Not explicitly stated. The former dicatatorship by President Yahya Jammeh ended when he fled the country 21 January 2017. New information could reach the public only after that date


V-Dem data can be publicly accessed through: https://www.v-dem.net/en/data/data-version-8/


[1] - These dates are as mentioned in TI’s report. However, if we look in the AfDB-report, CPIA Electronic Platform, we see that ‘3 sectors of analysis’ are presented of which ‘A. MACROECONOMIC POLICIES should show how the macroeconomic policy stance has performed in 2015’, while ‘B. STRUCTURAL POLICIES AND REGULATION’ and ‘C. SOCIAL CONTEXT AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT should show their data, but for the year 2013, rather much earlier than 2016. 
- Relevant for us in this analysis of the timing of data, is that in sector ‘C.’ our subject ‘corruption’ is under criterion 
v) Transparency, Accountability, and Corruption in the Public Sector’, dated as 2013.
- Interesting to note is also that in the AfDB-report, in the ANNEX 2: Guideposts for CPIA Ratings (under point 16) is mentioned Transparency International, Accountability and Corruption in the Public Sector General Transparency Corruption Perception Index (http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview).

[2] ‘the AfDB CPIA is a biennial exercise (once every two years) that generally starts around mid-September in the even numbered years and concludes by end of November of the same year’. How a ‘biennial exercice’ can deliver a report in 2016 and in 2017 remains unexplained in the TI-reporting.

[3] Data are not provided for all 54 African countries (members of AfDB), only for the 38 members of the ADF-Africa Development Fund. The difference is not mentioned neither explained in the text. Contrary to this observation is that on 
https://cpia.afdb.org/documents/public/cpia-methodology-en.pdf for 54 countries all their names are given on the front page. In the same document on page 3 we find the following tekst: ‘CPIA scores and rankings of countries eligible to the African Development Fund (ADF) are publically disclosed by the Bank through the CPIA Platform right after the internal release of their allocations, generally by end of January of each year. Scores of non ADF-eligible countries are not disclosed publically’. No reason given.


Obviously, the basic data TI got from 13 sources and used for the aggregated figures in the 2018 CPI, stem from calender dates between at least from Sept. 2016 to maximum August 2018. Unless you take serious footnote 1 below, indicating that the oldest input dates as far back as 2013. Sources 1 – 6, 10 and 12 ended input for CPI 2018 before the year 2018 began.

Of all sources 11 out of 13 have as ‘Year of Publication’ 2018, nrs 1 and 12 have 2017, the total outcome is published by TI International Secretariat on  Tuesday 29 January 2019 as: “CPI 2018”.

Data collection time in short:


Dates of collecting and processsing field data


Sept - nov 2016


Nov 2016 - nov 2017


……… - 31 jan 2017


……… - sept 2017


Jan 2017 - 31 dec 2017




Febr 2018 - april 2018


Jan 2018 - maart 2018


Sept 2017 - aug 2018




Jan 2018 - april 2018






The Gambia’s seven-point improvement in CPI comes after end of decades-long autocratic rule

Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 in focus
Author(s): Kaunain Rahman, tihelpdesk@transparency.org Reviewer(s): Samuel Kaninda, Matthew Jenkins, Transparency International Date: 22 January 2019.

Overcoming corruption challenges

While still far below the global average of 43 out of 100, with a score of 37 out of 100 on the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) The Gambia has gained seven points since 2017. Although in general we should not read too much into a single year-on-year change, even of this magnitude, the increase reflects significant changes in the way the country is tackling corruption and strengthening democracy.
From 1996 to 2017, the small and densely populated West African nation of The Gambia suffered under the violent and repressive regime of its president, Yahya Jammeh. Systemic corruption and kleptocracy crippled private enterprise and robbed the Gambian people of vast sums, undermining an already fragile and shock-prone economy.
In 2017, the year Jammeh finally left office after losing an election which he then declared void, the country scored just 30 out of 100 on the Corruption Perceptions Index, and ranked 130 out of 180 countries.
A year later, The Gambia is inside the top 100 countries for the first time.

So, what has made the difference? According to the article it is the fall from his official function and flight from The Gambia of the former President Yahya Jammeh, and the restauration of democracy. As he went into exile only 21 January 2017 it is quite unlikely that this single event caused the changes in scores and rank of Gambia on the TI-list in such a short time-span. If perceptions have any value they are persistent and do not change in some months with tens of points. What else did cause these changes, I do not know either.

The Gambia: Overview of Corruption and Anti-Corruption
The Anti-Corruption Knowledge Hub is an online space where Transparency International presents its research output.knowledgehub.transparency.org

Stronger democratic practices

In our analysis of this year’s CPI, we looked at how democratic institutions like a free media, checks and balances on power, and an independent judiciary relate to fighting corruption.
In the short time since Jammeh has been ousted from office, The Gambia has shown progress in many of the areas we identified as critical. There are encouraging signs that the opacity, repression and violation of basic rights that marked Jammeh’s time in office are slowly being changed by a commitment to democratic norms, good governance and the rule of law.
The Supreme Court, for instance, has declared several pieces of repressive legislation to be unconstitutional, including the 2013 Information and Communication Act, which punished the “spreading of false news” via the internet.
The new administration under President Adama Barrow has also established a commission to determine how the constitution — consistently weakened and undermined under Jammeh — can be reformed to better protect citizens’ rights.
Ministers have begun to declare their assets to an ombudsman. The new government has also launched processes to reform the security sector and civil service, including giving a new name and mandate to the domestic spy agency, previously known to Gambians as the “house of terror”. In 2017, a Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate Jammeh’s financial misdeeds, which include an estimated US$50 million stolen from the State Treasury.

Current efforts
Newfound democratic freedoms are contributing to a sense of optimism within the country, and are reflected in improvements to the country’s performance in international democracy ratings. In 2019, Freedom House awarded The Gambia an aggregate score of 45/100, pushing the country further into the “partly free” category it entered in 2018.
The government appears committed to making anti-corruption a key part of democratic reforms. Our research has shown this to be critical to sustained progress in both democratic development and reducing corruption.
That said, it is still early days. Shortcomings in the constitution did not disappear overnight after Jammeh was ousted from power. A promised anti-corruption commission has not yet been established.
Moreover, recent allegations of corruption involving a foundation belonging to President Barrow’s wife have raised serious concerns. A Chinese company deposited more than three quarters of a million dollars into the foundation’s accounts, most of which was soon transferred to a Portuguese charter airline, ostensibly for a flight to China.
Barrow’s government has also insisted on upholding a controversial contract with a Belgian firm, Semlex Europe SA, to manage its citizens’ identity documents. The agreement does not allow any government oversight over Semlex’s work, despite the fact that the company has previously been investigated by Belgian police for suspected money laundering and corruption.

A look towards the future

As these recent scandals illustrate, corruption is a complex, international problem that can’t be tackled in isolation within a single country. Many of the proceeds of high-level corruption by Jammeh and his cronies have left The Gambia, much like Jammeh himself who now lives in luxurious exile in Equatorial Guinea.
While The Gambia needs to ensure that effective institutions, a constitution that serves the country’s citizens and rule of law replace Jammeh’s repressive dictatorship, other governments need to help close the loopholes and bring greater transparency to the murky jurisdictions that enabled the theft of The Gambia’s assets.

This blog is part of a series entitled, “CPI 2018 in focus,” which highlights country content from the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). (Source: Transparency International)




Of course, I have taken note of the Statistical Assessment also available on the CPI 2018 website, see


‘This publication is a technical report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. It aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policymaking process. The scientific output expressed does not imply a policy position of the European Commission. Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that might be made of this publication. Contact information Competence Centre on Composite Indicators and Scoreboards jrc-coin@ec.europa.eu - JRC Science Hub https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/coin - https://composite-indicators.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ - JRC113251 EUR 29405 EN PDF - ISBN 978-92-79-96745-0 - ISSN 1831-9424 - doi: 10.2760/974516 - Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2018 © European Union, 2018.’


The statisticians have done impressive work and they report in a clear way. I read their assessment with interest. Please know that my own statistical insights do not reach as far and deep as clearly is the case for the authors of the assessment. My objections against the CPI 2018 as a product of research is not what is done at the end of the process of making this product. My objections emphasize the lack of quality and the lack of relevance of the data collected by and from the 13 sources. My conclusion is that if your basic data are bad, it does not matter anymore whatever you will be doing with those data at a later moment in the process. As I phrased this earlier: ‘with mud you do not built dykes’.