Nothing exists in isolation. Everything affects and it is affected by every other things. There is always a connection between or among things happening in our society today. Therefore, it is important to note that corruption can retard the growth of a nation and affects its development aspirations. It is the greatest obstacle to socio-economic development and can also enhance the decadence of society. Corruption, according to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is: “dishonest or illegal behaviour, especially of people in authority”.
This brings me to the banes of corruption in Africa. It retards economic growth and affects business operations, employment and investment. It reduces the standards of living and result in reduction of financial resources from Africa. Especially, government loses tax revenue, and it increases the gap between the rich and the poor.
But, before going into the subject matter, I would like to succinctly give a general understanding of Anti Corruption and Anti Bribery standards. In the exact words of Unicredit-Group, “It is a set of rules and measures to detect and mitigate the risk of potential bribery and corruption”. Anti Bribery and Anti Corruption standards is establish to maintain a culture where bribery and corruption is never acceptable. They exist basically to provide a reliable basis on which common idiosyncrasies can be shared regarding specific characteristics of a product, service or process. This brings me to issues bordering on standards in Africa. The problems in the fight against corruption through the use of standards are not farfetched.
Firstly, declining agricultural production and unpredictable output is one of the problems faced by standards in Africa. The inconsistency in the output of farm produce fuels the level of corruption in Africa. Sometime ago, in my country, there was an economic recession and this cause the unreasonable and poorly justifiable increase in prices of goods and services. Manufacturers and suppliers saw this as a necessary evil; and quickly use the opportunity to exploit the consumers. Consequently, creating scarcity of product and increasing the normal prices of products.
Besides, the political will of the government is consider a factor that fuels corruption in Africa. When the government is also a beneficiary of improper business advantage, I bet you, the zeal to fight corruption would be no more. This will definitely result in a thriving corrupt society.
Admittedly, in Africa, the high rate of poverty and unemployment is nothing to write home about. In very clear and unequivocal terms, Transparency International declares
that “corruption fuels poverty and injustice for millions of ordinary citizens”. Largely, most people now resort to unethical ways of making a living. In my country, most people has come to accept that corruption is one of the most unavoidable means of survival, thereby, making the efforts of standards in curbing corruption not a complete success.
In particular, geographical instability makes compliance with the standards laws, rules and regulations difficult. For example, in Nigeria, there is a group of violent extremists called Boko Haram. They disrupts the peace and stability of the northern part of Nigeria and it environ. Inferring from this condition, it will be hard for standards to fully monitor and ensure compliance in that region.
Generally speaking, corruption cancer is ubiquitous. Standards can’t monitor everything. Some uses off-the-books accounts while other business activities are done in the nooks and crannies of the society – which may be difficult to trace. These are just some of the problems that hampers standards aspiration of a better Africa. However, standards have displayed an reserved efforts in the fight against corruption in Africa. Let’s flipped the pages of significant contributions and invaluable benefits of standards in Africa.
Undoubtedly, they strengthen regulation. Standards ensure the implementation and enforcement of effective systems to counter the risks of bribery and corrupt practices in any form in Africa. Through standards investigating authorities, they periodically monitor performance to ensure ongoing compliance. They develop legislation to ensure adequate compliance through penalties for money laundering infringement, prosecution of offenders etc. This has been made possible through the co-ordination and promotion of all relevant disciplinary action.
Also, standards ensure quality of products. They ensure that goods sold are high quality, and free from diverse weights and measures. Through the inspection of unscrupulous businesses, they set the quality and standards of products and services in order.
Socio-economically, standards mitigate the risk of doing business in Africa – by correcting the tainted image, and stimulating investors to Africa. They maintain and foster healthy business environment. Standards set the rules and regulations; pertaining to business relations in accordance with globally observe practices. Through their Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, they maintain commitment to integrity and sustainable way of doing business in Africa.
Generally, the benefits of the fight against corruption includes: high standard of living and well-being of all citizens. When there is no corruption (favoritism, nepotism etc), there would be enough jobs for the people. There would be self sufficiency in food, clothing, shelter, health care and education.
Specifically, to consumer, Anti Bribery and Corruption standards enhance confidence, ensure maximum satisfaction and increase safety in the environment. They ensure that consumer rights (right to safety, right to receive value for their money, right to live in a healthy environment etc) are maintain.
To manufacturers/suppliers, they ensure that goods sold are standardised. Therefore, saving their brands from reputational damage and losses. They provide the necessary measures for quality control of raw materials and finished goods. Similarly, to regulators, they help in the area of adequate instructions and directions.
To the government, they build credibility and strengthen relationships with existing and potential investors. In fact, they ensure that the policy of government on standard specification and quality are maintained.
In Nigeria, after the death of the former president, Sani Abacha, an investigation was carried out to determine the amount of money he embezzled in gas plant construction. The investigations led to the freezing of accounts containing about $100 million United States dollars that he stole (Hector 2004). Other looted funds were also traced to him. In the words of Transparency International, 2018, “In Nigeria, plans are in motion to distribute US$322 million recovered in Switzerland from the late General Sani Abacha, the country’s former military ruler”.
In the light of this analysis, standards have contributed immensely to the development of this promising continent – providing framework for achieving a progressive and sustainable Africa. “Without strong watchdog institutions, impunity becomes the very foundation upon which systems of corruption are built. And if impunity is not demolished, all efforts to bring an end to corruption are in vain.” says, Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Prize laureate.
In conclusion, Anti Bribery and Corruption standards are the strong watchdog that ensures that impunity (fraud, smuggling, bribery, deceit, money laundering, evasion, etc) never survives. With their zero tolerance to corruption, vehemently, they fight corruption on every side. They promote human rights, contribute to the health sector, and make socio-economic goals to prosper. With their advice, co-ordination and oversight, they build a sustainable path to Africa’s transformation. No standards, no quality! No standards, no safety!