By Temitope Ponle
This is the result of the joint OECD / AfDB virtual roundtable entitled “Business compliance with the fight against corruption in Africa: practices, challenges and the way forward” held on Wednesday.
Mr. Patrick Moulette, Head of Anti-Corruption Division, Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, OECD, said it was important to step up efforts to fight corruption and mainstream integrity while preparing for economic recovery.
Moulette noted that although Africa is becoming a globalized market, the strong perception of corruption continues to undermine investor confidence and the business environment.
He said that the OECD had a convention against corruption, worldwide, which included 44 participating states.
“The only African country that has ratified this convention is South Africa. The Convention always helps non-member countries.
“The OECD has developed standards to promote business integrity and comply with anti-corruption legislation.
He also said that the joint OECD / AfDB initiative to fight corruption in Africa included around 21 continental economies aimed at promoting fair competition in business.
He added that the initiative also encourages adherence to international best practices against corruption, integrity and accountability.
Moulette said the meeting will take stock of the level of compliance, how corruption has been tackled and measures put in place by local and international businesses in Africa.
He noted that attention would be focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on integrity risks and anti-corruption practices.
“The crisis has highlighted new challenges in the fight against corruption and we have seen how the compliance and prevention mechanisms have been challenged by new unexpected events.”
In addition, Ms Paula Santos Da Costa, Acting Director of the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Office, AfDB Group, said the pandemic has redefined the way business is produced.
“This has led to increased digitization which has led to a new kind of fraud and corruption.
“The answers to these new challenges have led to innovative solutions and cooperation in the knowledge of companies, legal environments and new technologies.”
Santos Da Costa noted that the bank’s partnership with the OECD has launched a joint initiative to support African governments in their efforts to fight corruption, improve integrity and improve business cooperation.
“Over the years, the initiative has mobilized African businesses and policymakers and offered technical support to the private sector to improve standards of integrity and corporate accountability.
“The integrity of our business partners is of paramount importance.
“The bank must ensure that its resources given to its partners are properly used for the contribution to the economic development and social progress of member countries by promoting development in the public and private sectors.”
She stressed the importance of strengthening accountability, transparency and corporate governance to reduce fraud, corruption and protect the business environment in Africa.
She added that the bank has helped African countries to strengthen their legal systems, procurement processes and improve their knowledge skills.
She said the bank has also provided technical support to companies to improve their governance systems and make them eligible for bank financing.
The AfDB representative noted that the bank had set up an office to verify corrupt practices among its partners or individuals.
“In the event of fraud or suspected corruption with companies or individuals, the bank’s Integrity and Anti-Corruption Office opens an investigation into the allegations.
“If these allegations are founded, these entities or persons will be excluded from any project or activity financed by the bank.”
The meeting aimed to review steps taken by African businesses to promote effective corporate compliance programs, with a focus on challenges, successes and lessons learned. (NOPE)
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