Numerous African governments have taken a demand-side approach to tackling corruption with legislation that cracks down on the recipients of bribes: politicians, public servants and employees of state-owned enterprises. However, simply “naming and shaming” or toughening individual legal sanctioning is bound to be insufficient as it ignores the suppliers and facilitators of such illicit transactions. As long as the private sector has willing payers who believe that bribes, kickbacks, and other forms of fraud are an inevitable cost to doing business in Africa, there will be little change to these corrupt practices that disenfranchise and complicate business on the continent.
However, Globalization and international convergence on extraterritorial enforcement of anti-corruption laws are changing African perceptions. Africa’s continuing integration into global markets opens new opportunities in the fight against corruption. Many local businesses on the continent aspire to become a part of global value chains; however, few are able to meet the strict anti-corruption standards that foreign corporations require of their local business partners – especially in countries where democratic governance remains weak. For these companies, establishing internal control mechanisms that limit the risk of corruption promotes transparency and makes eminent business sense. Several surveys conducted on African businesses reveal that more than 60% of companies in sub-Saharan Africa have no corruption mitigation system at the firm level, and the cost of obtaining professional assistance is higher than most small and medium-sized enterprises can afford.
This is why in May 2017 CIPE launched a flagship anti-corruption compliance training of trainers program for African professionals. Through this scalable program, CIPE is able to provide much-needed corruption mitigation knowledge, tools, and capacity building to local business by working with likeminded partners across the continent. To strengthen partners’ capacity and increase their value to their local business community, CIPE provides technical support and a platform for networking among the anti-corruption compliance professionals that enables them share best practices and lessons learnt across continental borders and beyond. Through this initiative, CIPE’s partners have provided extensive training and development to over 90 compliance officers representing various sized companies in Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan. In Mozambique, CIPE’s partners are supporting companies to develop compliance mitigation systems. While this initiative empowers local businesses to mitigate corruption at the firm level, CIPE also works with strategic private sector partners at an institutional level to advocate for institutional and governance reform that promotes transparency at the local, state, and national level.
In Nigeria, CIPE worked with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce (LCCI) to map out the challenges of doing business CIPE is currently supporting national advocacy efforts in Nigeria based on a similar project carried out by LCCI on the Lagos Maritime Port following a report published in 2016.