Improving the Business Environment through Collective Action Initiatives

Nigeria, the most populous African nation, faces several pressing challenges. In recent years, the country has struggled through an economic recession with high unemployment, rampant inflation, and crumbling infrastructure. Concurrent corruption scandals plague the public sector while the private sector struggles to clamp down on the flows of illicit funds. Unfortunately, persistent governance gaps and weak institutions hamper much-needed economic reforms to address these issues.

CIPE’s partners in Nigeria have focused on advocating for better democratic and market-oriented reforms through state business agendas, and CIPE has worked with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) to strengthen governance structures and reforms in private sectors across the country, and in particular the maritime transport sector.

The maritime transport sector is crucial for the Nigerian economy. Nigeria’s ports are the country’s access point to global markets; in fact, the Lagos maritime ports process more than 70% of Nigeria’s non-oil exports. To increase private-sector good governance reforms, CIPE and LCCI have worked with this sector through the Nigerian Ports system. CIPE and its partners have trained various stakeholders on collective advocacy and commissioned published analysis on current governance problems.

Private sector-driven reforms are only part of the equation to solving governance gaps and strengthening institutions in Nigeria. Corruption, particularly within the public sector, threaten to undermine any economic recovery efforts. The executive branch, civil service, and the judiciary – regarded as the ‘demand side’ of corruption- have all faced recent scandals. Nigerian financial institutions are not immune to this issue either; they have largely overlooked or even been complicit in the flow of illicit funds through their accounts.

The Buhari government’s anti-graft strategy and its Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) is a welcome step to tackling the ‘supply side’ of corruption but has been criticized as weak and faulty. Unable to tackle systemic hemorrhaging, combat illicit financial flows or sanction financial havens, the PACAC has failed to strengthen legal instruments and civil processes to prosecute maligned actors. Therefore, CIPE has partnered with the Coalition of Business and Professional Associations (COBPAs) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) to establish anti-corruption reforms from within the private sector and serve as a model for greater societal reforms in Nigeria.