Despite efforts by the country to increase its business competitiveness and create an investor-attractive profile the problem of corruption still remains the biggest and most persistent hurdle in achieving our economic goals. It is estimated that Government loses up to 30% of its revenue due to corruption. One of the main avenues through which corruption persistently permeates our society is through bribery. This vice, is historical and plagues our society appallingly, festering due to complacency, and in many cases, weak governance structures.
These are, unfortunately, the same structures that appear to be a default manual on how to act, be and succeed in our society. Over time we find ourselves replicating social and political traditions that are entrenched in corrupt practices. We endemically chip away at the moral fabric of our society and we become blind to our own complacency, even worse, we normalize corruption as a means to an end.
This normalization then becomes an excuse to carry on with corrupt practices such as bribery. Presently we see efforts to bridge the inequality gap through humanitarian and financial inclusion projects that are proven to work and can be sustainable if principles of honesty and transparency are adhered to. However, the main benefactors of corruption will continue to perpetuate unethical means of transacting at the cost of our country’s competitiveness and economic prosperity.
As an integral part of Kenya’s business community we are aware of the problems that poverty brings and together with other players endeavor to combat it as an end goal to proposed business solutions for the region. But even as we do so, it is our moral duty as the residents of this country to tackle corruption, rooting out every single vice one at a time.
We all need to be champions of good governance in this country. This means paying close attention to how our resources are being utilized and being vigilant of any threats to our future financial security as a country. Government officers and representatives need to account for how they are spending our taxes openly.
Businesses too need to promote transparency in their transactions, tenders and contracts to show the level of professionalism and honesty that government agencies should reciprocate in their services. Organizations and entrepreneurs should lead the change in culture by adhering to a business code of ethics consistent with the UN Global Compact and encouraging other businesses to do the same. We need to commit to auditing our own corporate behavior against these codes, by, for example, being at the frontline of tackling bribery in supply chains.
When there exists this level of integrity in the interactions between the public and private sector, the world takes notice and we undoubtedly stake our place on the global market as a highly attractive and competitive investment hub. Additionally, we build a reputation that will increase the value of our exports and create a very dynamic job market locally.
There are so many ways in which we can achieve this but it starts with us promoting good governance and transparency. If we put in place procedures to prevent bribery, we have to simultaneously institute strong and tangible measures of dealing with those who operate unethically, in both private and public sectors. Businesses should therefore work closely with the judiciary and other law enforcement agencies at a national and regional level to support the enhancement of a legal framework that specifically targets corruption and more so, acts of bribery that are so prevalent in our community.
As a country, being competitive comes as a result of great strategies pegged on our ability to have foresight. It means learning that we cannot excuse corruption as a ‘habit’ or as incurable. We need to introspectively look at how, as individuals, we have perpetuated it and consequently begin to reverse the situation from our everyday actions and reactions.
Transparency is demanded from all of us as individuals, businesses and government to achieve sustainable economic growth. It is the only way to unlock the great potential of our country.