What next for commercial governance in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

by Business Council for Africa

Steven King, Group Head of Corporate Compliance at Travelex, describes the latest project to tackle the widespread corruption that stifles economic growth and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. The only viable solution, he believes, lies in collaboration across the full governance eco-system and needs to happen at all levels

In 2015, a report from Transparency International suggested that around 75m people in Sub-Saharan Africa had paid a bribe in the preceding year. The report also suggested poor people in the region are twice as likely as the richest to have made a payment. The survey, of more than 43,000 people across 28 Sub-Saharan countries, revealed that at least half of those who paid bribes did so many times a year.

Some of the bribes are to escape punishment by the police or courts, but many are paying bribes to get access to basic services. Corruption in the region is nothing new, but many feel it’s on the rise and that their governments are failing.

A new solution is now bringing together expertise from the public and private sectors to stamp out practices that are preventing many regions from achieving economically. The project, backed by the Business Council for Africa-Invest Africa, draws on input from various organisations including the UK’s National Crime Agency.

It brings together people who can offer advice, training and mentoring on every part of the process and who have long experience in fighting corruption and tracing illegal assets in other countries; for example, the legal foundations of the UK’s asset-recovery legislation come from Irish law, where the government has a history of efforts to confiscate terrorist funding.

There are good reasons for doing this. The 2016 Ibrahim Index of African Governance reported that the average score for corruption and bureaucracy had worsened by 8.7 points across the continent over the previous decade. Thirty-three countries had deteriorated, 24 of them falling to their worst ever level in 2015.

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