Comesa in anti-graft campaign to woo multinational companies to African market

Sunday October 7 2018


Trucks at the port of Mombasa waiting to be loaded with goods. Corruption cases are reported in customs, transport and logistical processes. PHOTO | FILE 

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Common market for eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) is considering adopting standard governance requirements to woo multinationals into the market.

Officials at the continental bloc argue that despite Africa having attractive opportunities for business, corruption is a hindrance to SMEs seeking to tap into regional and global supply chains.

Sandra Uwera, Comesa Business Council chief executive said corruption had become part and parcel of doing business in many countries, with many SMEs eyeing shorter routes to make profits instead of long-term sustainable partnership.

“SMEs must consider that any misinterpretation of credentials, payments or favours in furtherance to obtaining or retaining a business, participating in anti-competitive business practices or ignoring the very same practices is deemed a great misconduct to corporates who would want to engage in joint venture partnership or contractual agreements that integrate SMEs into their supply chains,” she said.

The council last week conducted a workshop, which targeted companies in Kigali to design the bloc’s anti-corruption compliance and integrity code.

Ms Uwera told Rwanda Today that once developed, the code will be presented to Council of Ministers after adoption by the chambers of commerce and private sector federation.

Key obstacle

African Union data show that corruption continues to be one of the key obstacles making the cost of doing business high in the region, constituting more than 10 per cent of the total costs of products coming to the final consumers.

In the case of Rwanda, which ranks among the least corrupt countries on the continent, corruption cases are reported in customs, transport and logistical processes.

Some firms also reported graft cases in transfers, dispute settlement, regulatory system, taxation and investment requirements.

Experts argue that with integration taking roots on the continent following the recent creation a much larger market under the continental free trade area, anti-corruption compliance is timely to woo multinationals.

As a result, failure to implement safeguards and controls that guarantee successful and fair business transactions could leave local enterprises with little chance to participate in regional and global trade at the expense of economies’ growth.