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Thursday, 01 October 2009 12:34

African Governments Should Promote Good Corporate Governance

ARUSHA, Tanzania, Sept 30 (EABC) – The East African Business Council (EABC) has asked East African governments to set up structures that will promote transparency and bolster business transactions between government and private sector.


Speaking at the just concluded African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum in Nairobi Kenya, East African Business Council Executive Director, Charles Mbogori, said e-government builds accountability by eliminating gate keepers, and standardizing service delivery.


"Publishing government information online makes it possible to track decisions and actions and thus, serve as an additional deterrent to corruption," he said.


According to the 2008 EABC Business Climate Index survey, more than 35 per cent of business leaders indicated that corruption at customs is a major obstacle to doing business in the east African region.


While each individual bribe is low (average 1.9 USD), aggregated for all trucks and annualised amounts to bribes to customs of some 2 million USD.


The World Bank estimates that US$1 trillion is paid in bribes each year. 


"Corruption has a negative effect on a country's ability to compete in international trade. Smaller companies tend to suffer more as bribe payments will constitute a larger proportion of their revenue, leaving them unable to compete with bigger companies where large bribes are required to secure a contract," Mbogori said.


The International Monetary Fund estimates that corruption reduces investment by around 5 percent.  The African Union estimated in 2006 that $148 billion a year leaves the continent because of corruption, which represents a quarter of the continent's GDP.


"Recurrent corruption payments will also increase business costs and therefore reduce profitability," Mbogori said. It is therefore necessary to inculcate corporate governance amongst business, by having in place codes of conduct that companies must adhere to.


EABC is in a process of preparing a code of conduct for its membership modelled along on Business Action Against Corruption (BAAC), which is a private public initiative to tackle corruption. 


Transparency International indicated in its public opinion survey, the 2009 Global Corruption Barometer that most respondents stated they they'd be willing to a premium to buy products from companies certified as corruption-free.


"This clearly shows that there is a lot that business can do to enhance the fight and there could be room for rewarding companies that are corruption free," he said. 


He also asked governments to protect whistle blowers and promote an independent but responsible media in efforts to fight corruption.


"These two measures will go a long way in providing the support systems necessary to highlight incidences of corruption and the evidence required to punish the wrong doers," Mbogori said in conclusion.


About EABC: EABC is an apex body of business associations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi with the aim of promoting Private Sector's regional and global competitiveness in Trade and Investment. Founded in 1997, EABC has been actively involved in lobbying on behalf of the private sector to ensure that issues affecting the private sector in East Africa are properly addressed.



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