Wednesday, July 13, 2005

BBC NEWS | Business reports that "African firms back corruption war"

It's about time! Get the story here. Businesses in Africa have had enough. They call for help to battle corruption in the wake of the G8:
"To ensure that everyone is playing by the rules, there is a major role to be played by the G8," said Zambia Business Forum director Silane Mwenechanya.

The call came at the G8 Business Action for Africa summit in London.

The G8 and other wealthy nations should provide technical support to private sector intermediaries fighting corruption, Mr Mwenechanya said.

For instance, they could offer help in developing and introducing codes of practice for companies, or get involved by actively working to strengthen anti-corruption alliances of business, governments and NGOs, or non-governmental organisations.

At home, they should assist African governments in tracing and recovering proceeds of corruption that are hidden in wealthy countries, Mr Mwenechanya proposed.
The long-standing problem has no easy solution, however. Many do not want to end corruption:
"There is the corrupter and the corruptee, or the briber and the bribee," said Elias Dewa, director of the Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower.

"The African governments should tell the G8 that in Africa the big businesses are closer to the political elite, and they bribe them in a big way," he said.

At the same time, small businesses give small bribes to small bureaucrats, "so you have a situation where there is complete chaos".

"The situation is completely out of control. I would call it a corruption pandemic."
The problem bankrupts Africa and deprives the continent of valuable private foreign investment:
A large part of the problem is that many businesses, both African and non-African, see corruption as an integral part of doing business on the continent.

"The big multinationals that do business in Africa - some of them believe that to do business in Africa you have to pay bribes," said Mr Dewa.

Other companies simply stay away.

"There is about a trillion dollars of foreign investment flowing around the world today, and we get about 2% of it," Mr Mwenechanya said.
I'm encouraged to see Africans step up and demand an end to corruption. The silence from African administrations deafens me, however. The trouble with the corruption is that valuable financial resources grease the hands of those least in need, at the expense of African societies' most vulnerable. All of the good work accomplished by Live8, and any aid committed to by the G8, will not help those that most need aid. Until corruption is tremendously reduced, African nations will not attract the kind of investment that allows them to positively grow their economies. Vast majorities of Africans trapped in poverty, while an elite few emeshed in riches, leads to countries that are just asking for a civil war. All one needs to add to the mix is a little tribal identity and vouala! Africa becomes an unstable continent.

The G8 nations must enforce anti-corruption measures on private companies within their juristictions. Everyone involved must starve the corruption that constricts the life out of Africa. Otherwise, the next 30 years will look like the last 30 years, except that even more children will lay dead in the streets!