Corruption in Africa remains a thorn in the flesh of public and private sector development. The cost of corruption is very high and affects productivity , with an adverse effect on the growth of enterprises. This is of grave importance to economies in COMESA and the rest of the Africa, which consists of 70% of Small and Medium sized enterprises as part of the employee base.
While growth enterprises are looking for opportunities , such as markets, financial capital, and access regional and global supply chains, the African reputation of black markets and corrupt business operations has proven to be a hindrance to their expansion into larger markets. Larger companies are increasingly demanding anti-corruption compliance from business partners and SMEs, to ensure the businesses their engage with have certain safeguards and controls that guarantee successful and fair transactions between the two parties.
A key solution to addressing corruption within enterprises is promoting and implementing strong transparency, integrity and business ethics.
Anti-corruption compliance has a significant role in curbing business failures and promoting sustainable and efficient institutions. The is a positive nexus between strong transparency, integrity and business ethics with increased capital flows, investment and integration into regional and global chains. The African Union has launched 2018 as the year of Anti-Corruption under the theme of “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa's Transformation. However, at enterprise level; there is limited understanding and compliance on anti-corruption compliance amongst Small and Medium Enterprises. At international level, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) has developed a Guide Anti-Bribery Policy and Compliance Guidance for African Companies. In the COMESA region there are limited number of countries with national Codes on Anti-Corruption Compliance for enterprises. The absence of regional or national focused Codes or Guidelines contributes to limited awareness and compliance amongst enterprises.
In light of, the COMESA Business Council(CBC) in partnership with the Centre for International Private Enterprise(CIPE) are working on the development of a Regional Model Code on Anti-Corruption Compliance for enterprises, as part of the Anti-Corruption Compliance Project with the objective of providing a regional guide for anti-corruption compliance amongst enterprises with the COMESA region. This is part and parcel of the overall Anti-Corruption Compliance (ACC) Project that focuses on promoting business integrity and reducing corruption within enterprises.
The project objective is to build the capacity of the private sector to curb corruption and enhance their participation in transparency and reform initiatives for business , thereby achieve a good and enabling business environment.
The project is divided into the following components namely-
- Training of trainers
- Training of enterprises
- Development of the regional model code on anti- corruption compliance.
Cumulatively, this strengthens the ability for local enterprises to development sustainable and credible enterprises that are able to form strong cross border alliances and participate effectively in regional and global trade.