Experts advocate business integrity for sustainable growth in Africa

During the first-ever edition of the Africa Business Integrity Network Awards & Recognition event hosted by the Center for International Private Enterprise, industry leaders and experts emphasised the need to empower businesses towards greater integrity, transparency, and accountability for sustainable growth in the African economy.

ABIN was created in 2017 in response to the convergence of business integrity as a universal standard for doing business.

Therefore, ABIN’s primary duty is to empower businesses in the region to implement sound anti-bribery and corruption mitigation systems that meet internationally recognised standards and are both appropriate for their experiences and adequate for their needs.

“What we need to do and think about is how we can make corruption unprofitable. Corruption is unquantifiable on business and the society,” CIPE Regional Director for Africa, Lars Benson, said.

During the event, Shuaibu Idris, Chairman, Institute of Directors Centre for Corporate Governance pointed out that if the private sector does not agree to do what is right at any cost and at all cost, the fight against corruption will never be won.

The Business Integrity and Ethics 1st Lead at CIPE, Lola Adekanye, explained that while there are those businesses that would always be inclined to operate with integrity, the majority of businesses will need some inducement and at least a guarantee of systemic fairness to do things right and stay compliant with laws and regulations.

ABIN now operates in over a dozen Sub-Saharan African countries and consists of private organisations, chambers of commerce, or professional associations that provide compliance services through certified professionals who have successfully completed the compliance training of trainers and certification. To date, 645 people and 98 companies have received the training.

A Research Assistant at the Lagos Business School, Clinton Chibueze, pointed out that the anti-corruption training has been found to have a positive impact on participating companies.

“Some businesses that engage in corrupt practices do not see it as unethical till you bring it to their attention,” Chibueze said.

The experts have also shown that businesses have more to lose from unethical and corrupt practices.

“At the Nigerian Exchange Group, we have discovered that investors are likely to invest in companies that have strong ethical values,” Division Head Capital Markets, Nigerian Exchange Group Limited, Jude Onyeka Chiemeka, said during the event.

“It is more expensive to be unethical as a company if you are looking for sustainable capital,” Chiemeka added.

The Chief Executive Officer of LADOL Nigeria, Dr Amy Jadesimi, and a member of the Ethics 1st Advisory Committee also pointed out that “the effort to advance business integrity and a culture of compliance in Africa and Nigeria specifically is not all doom and gloom because, despite the high risk in the Nigerian business environment, more Nigerians are still inclined to comply with laws and regulations even though they have little fear of enforcement and penalties coming down in them so, this is a place to start.”

She also mentioned that it is important for Africans to start to look inward for solutions on how to approach the market ethically and change the narrative over time about doing business in Nigeria.

At the event, new ABIN members were onboarded and the Corporate Champion Partners Initiative for companies committed to championing business integrity in Africa was launched.

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