Digitization of Trade Facilitation Tools to Reduce Corruption Risks

Lusaka, Monday, March 4, 2019: Secretary General of COMESA Chileshe Kapwepwe says implementing the trade facilitation tools such as the digital free trade area, simplification and automation of documents and processes will address some of risks that provide space for corrupt practices in the COMESA region.

Addressing over 60 enterprises in Zambia that participated in an Anti-Corruption Compliance Training organized by the COMESA Business Council, on 27 – 28 February 2019 in Lusaka, the SG observed that the vice was not just a national problem but a regional challenge as well.

“Whilst, the overarching goal is to improve trade and regional integration in COMESA; If corruption isn’t dealt with, it can affect the cost of goods, deter local and foreign direct investment and cause a huge dent into the growth of businesses and the economy,” she said.

She cited trade facilitation as one area where corruption is often reported specifically at the border points thus posing significant impediment to trade and investment.

To promote regional integration, she said:

“We must deal with political and economic effects of corruption, individually as sovereign States and collectively at COMESA level and the rest of the Africa continent.”

The SG underlined the need to incorporate the private sector in the fight against corruption noting that the sector is often forgotten when measures to combat the vice are put in place.

“The private sector is the catalyst for the growth of regional economies and therefore at the forefront when dealing with issues of economic transformation,” she added.

The COMESA Business Integrity project, which COMESA CBC was rolling out to Member States, was private sector-focused thus presenting the best approach towards combating the vice.

“There is a positive relationship between business integrity and increased capital flows, investment and integration into regional and global chains,” she said. “Tacking corruption is not just as a private sector agenda but as a public-private agenda; demanding concerted efforts from all stakeholders.”

The anti-corruption compliance training was mainly targeted at Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which constitute 70% of the private sector in the COMESA region hence the theme: “Towards strengthening business integrity for (SMEs) in COMESA”.

Speaking at the same event, CBC Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Uwera said SMEs generally do not have the resources to implement processes to detect and mitigate corruption.

“In fact, the likelihood is that such resources would be directed to other operational costs and less on corporate governance and compliance of the businesses,” she noted.

The anti-corruption training for Zambia was organized by the CBC in collaboration with the US Center for International private Enterprise, the Bankers Association of Zambia, the Zambia Bureau of Standards and Zambia Association of Manufacturers for the support to the event.

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