A study of size of world intelligence industry

Christian Hepner, a Masters student at Mercyhurst College, wrote a thesis on the Size of the World's Intelligence Industry. It sure makes some interesting reading, although I did not have the time/energy to evaluate his research methods.

A Botswana journalist comments as follows on his findings: “Botswana's intelligence sector outstrips, in terms of expenditure and agents employed, many countries in the region and even those countries of a similar size. Botswana spends US $ 25.7 million (about BWP 169.62 million) on the intelligence community in the country, this figure might be outdated as the Directorate on Security and Intelligence have been given a budget of P 200 million. According to the study the combined total of the intelligence community, possibly including even short term spies, is pegged at 9,800 people, making it one of the biggest workforce and spenders in the continent.

However, the other big spenders and employers are countries that have populations many times that of Botswana. For example Tanzania spends US$19.9m, Kenya US $21.2m, Namibia $US6.9 m, Ivory Coast US$ 22.3m and Ethiopia US $24.6m. In some cases Botswana's intelligence sector doubles or even triples the sizes of sectors in countries with much bigger populations. Despite the fact that it came out of a civil war only a few years ago Angola employs only 7 000 operatives. However, its expenditure stands at just over US$ 80 million.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest spender with US $ 249 m having been expended during 2009. It is followed closely by South Africa, which leads the sub-region with US 237 m. However, the country employs only 3500 agents. Algeria leads the pack with the number of operatives standing at 12. Other countries of interest in Africa include Burundi with 2.549, Cameroon 10 000, Ghana 477, Kenya 5 000.

Among the world's most developed nations the countries with the biggest numbers of intelligence agents are the US with 144 000 agents and spending US 75 billion and accounting for for 65 percent of the world' intelligence budget, Russia with 172 000, and spending US $3.2 billion, Syria with 25 000 and India standing at 18 000. The UK spent US$ 2.8 billion. Among themselves the worlds top 10 spenders - US, Japan, China and Russia account for 93 per cent of the total intelligence expenditure."



Thanks for posting about Chris's thesis. It is important to note that Chris had to estimate many of the individual countries' intel budgets as the actual figures were not available.

As a result, the estimates for individual countries could be way off. His methodology is reasonable but could certainly be improved upon. Obviously, the best thing would be to have actual numbers. Maybe some day...

His goal was to get as good a figure as he could for the entire world. In this arena, the billions spent by the US and the west as well as China and Russia and India swamp the millions spent in Africa.

No one has ever looked at every country in the world and added it up, however, and Chris was willing to make a stab at it. I think he deserves full credit for that.

Dalene said…
Oh yes, a brave and very necessary endeavor. Hope this is the start of fruitful debate on the efficacy;)) of intelligence organizations. Kudos to Chris and Kris!