The Role Of Standardisation In Winning The Fight Against Corruption For Sustainable Africa’s Transformation

Featured image courtesy: ISO

what is the Role Of Standardization In Winning The Fight Against Corruption For Sustainable Africa’s Transformation?

Just as the fish is no
stranger to water, the same could also be said about Africa and Corruption,
this is evident in the African news media, as corruption and related vile make
headline week in week out. 

This menace has retarded economic growth,
development, political transformation and many more. It is so bad that over the
years, Instead of declining, corruption has rather continued to climb the
ladder of dominance in many African countries. 

Even though there are standards,
but of what use are the teeth if they can neither bite nor chew, yes, if
standards are not improved and or properly implemented it will be as though
there were no standards.

 Hence to crush corruption and bring about a new dawn
of sustainability in Africa’s transformation, existing standards must be
improved where necessary and also be enforced. This will benefit the
government, the consumer, build trust among African countries, and encourage
foreign trade, to mention but a few.

It is of paramount
importance that we identify corruption for what it is. Corruption is a broad
term used in describing all manner of deceit, abuse, criminal acts and a lot
more, the Independent Broad Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) described
corruption as “the misuse of public power or position” for selfish interest, on
the other hand Wikipedia sees it as “a form of dishonesty or criminal
activity undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of
authority, often to acquire illicit benefit. Corruption may include many
activities including bribery and embezzlement.Political corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental
employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain”

The current status of corruption in Africa Is
alarming, for example the Thematic Programme on Anti-corruption(UNDP) report indicate that
“Africa lost an estimated of US $100 Billion annually to corruption” (www.undp.org), what a loss! Imagine how developed the continent would have been, if
for the past ten years this $100 billon has been channeled into developmental
programs and projects.

The above
statistics is a prove that to end corruption is to
Transform Africa, and to transform Africa is to end corruption. Standardization
has a vital role to play, in the quest to fight corruption, let’s see how.

Its’ a futile quest for one to store water in a
basket or with a leaking bucket .the various anti-corruption and standard organizations
in Africa are faced with a lot of challenges in their quest to fight corruption
, these challenges makes it appear as though they are fetching water with a
basket or running in a tread mill. Countries like Nigeria, Kenya and
South-Africa grant immunity to some political leaders making it difficult to
prosecute a corrupt leader, or at least they complicate the prosecution
process.

“Justice delayed Is denied” they say, the
judiciary process in countries like Nigeria Is very slow, this fact Is evident
as cases linger in court, criminals seem to be forever awaiting trial , An
average Nigerian will prefer “jungle justice” than the court procedure.

Another challenge is the inability of the various
Anti-corruption agencies to compliment themselves. Using Nigeria as an example,
the most pronounced anti-corruption agency is the Economic and Financial Crime
Commission (EFCC).

Nigeria’s other anti-corruption bodies, the Independent
Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Code of
Conduct Bureau (CCB), seems not to have complimented the efforts of the EFCC.

 How can
standardization play an important role in this fight against corruption?  Has standardization proved instrumental in
recent past?

By standardization we
mean bringing about a well defined process of implementing standards (as it
relates to corruption) with the approval of different parties which include
firms, users, interest groups, standard organizations and the government.

For example the
(International Standard Organization) ISO 37001: (The Anti-bribery management
system standard)  is designed to help an
organization establish, implement, maintain, and improve an anti-bribery
compliance programme. This is important because bribery is a major corrupt
practice. It includes a series of measures and controls that represent global
anti-bribery good practice.

 The good thing about this standard is that it was
designed to be compatible with every organization at any level; it can also be
incorporated with already existing standards and it is preventive. 

If
incorporated in any organization, the benefits are one of a kind, in that it
protects the organization in event of investigation as it goes a long way to
show that such organization has taken preventive steps against bribery which is
corruption, it also provides assurance to management, investors, employees,
customers, and other stakeholders that an organization is taking reasonable
steps to prevent bribery. And to the government it gives a better reputation.

Hence if all
organizations in Africa, Governmental and non- governmental where to subscribe
to such standards, and if anti-corruption agencies and standard organizations,
were to pioneer standardization in all ramification, then trust will be built,
this will provide a good and sustainable atmosphere for development and
subsequent transformation, on the other hand it will certainly build no trust
in a patient if the doctor is suffering from the same plaque which he intends
to or claim to cure.

Also, the knowledge of
standards and the bad effect of corrupt practices should find its way into
school curriculum, so that we can have future leaders who have been instilled
with hatred for corrupt practices, not those who will view it as a norm.

The
use of standards has proved instrumental in the fight against corruption in
Africa in recent past, earlier this year (2019) in Nigeria, officials of
Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) paid a sensitization visit to the Alaba
International market, Lagos, Nigeria, they taught the traders and importers
about standards and warned them about importing and selling  substandard goods, the result was very
encouraging ,  the traders conducted a
raid, all by themselves, lead by the chairman of the market association they
destroyed all the sub-standard electronic appliances found in the market. The
public relation officer of the union Mr Eugene Obiezu said: “We will never take it lightly with anyone involved in the
sale of substandard goods; such practice is already having negative effect on
the (Alaba) market. We cannot leave the fight against substandard goods in the
hands of government alone; we must take steps to purge ourselves of
wrongdoings” (tvcnews.tv)

Conclusively, the above example shows that when
manufacturers,individuals,coperate bodies and suppliers are engaged in
meaningful anti-corruption program, the benefits will be massive, when
suppliers are no longer willing to supply sub-standard goods, manufacturers
will be forced to standardize their products, suppliers will enhance their reputations for honest
business and  hence provide a sustainable
environment for business to thrive, the
consumer will surely be protected, then the global reputation of governments in
Africa will improve, this will lead to a sustainable platform for growth and
transformation and the actualization of a corruption free continent. Though
there are limited resources in the fight against corruption in Africa, but
standardization has proven to be an effective tool amongst others and will help
in achieving a sustainable transformation in Africa.

Conclusively, the above example shows that when
manufacturers,individuals,coperate bodies and suppliers are engaged in
meaningful anti-corruption program, the benefits will be massive, when
suppliers are no longer willing to supply sub-standard goods, manufacturers
will be forced to standardize their products, suppliers will enhance their reputations for honest
business and  hence provide a sustainable
environment for business to thrive, the
consumer will surely be protected, then the global reputation of governments in
Africa will improve, this will lead to a sustainable platform for growth and
transformation and the actualization of a corruption free continent. Though
there are limited resources in the fight against corruption in Africa, but
standardization has proven to be an effective tool amongst others and will help
in achieving a sustainable transformation in Africa.

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About the Author

Ugochukwu
A Petroleum Engineering writer, passionate about energy and related technologies

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