Abimbola Akosile examines the World Economic Forum’s Partnering against Corruption Initiative (PACI), which was the focus of a recent conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where the Sahara Group moved to position business integrity as an agent of sustainable development in Nigeria and globally

Partnering against Corruption Initiative (PACI) has become the leading business voice on rebuilding trust and integrity in business towards transparency and designing corruption out of systems. It is one of the World Economic Forum’s communities with highly respected business organisations with cross-industry collaborative efforts.
This has created a highly visible, agenda-setting platform where business leaders, international organisations and governments can come together to address issues relating to integrity, corruption, transparency and emerging-market risks. Under the leadership of PACI Vanguard CEOs, the community is expanding rapidly and now focuses on implementing a global anti-corruption agenda.

Driven by identified needs and interests of PACI member companies, PACI undertakes initiatives to address industry, regional, country or global issues in anti-corruption and compliance.
The objective of this multi-year collaborative project (Rebuilding Trust and Integrity in Business for Transparency) is to achieve CEO-level commitment to a mutually developed framework for collective action on sector-specific priorities.

Vital Objectives
The aims of the initiative are to: support corporate citizenship and set the global agenda through the PACI Vanguard, a CEO-driven anti-corruption community of purpose; form targeted industry/regional/country initiatives and collective action projects supported by the PACI Community and the PACI Task Force.
It also seeks to support large-scale transformation in the transparency and anti-corruption arena by identifying and advancing the core levers of transformation, such as B20 collective action hubs, harmonising legal frameworks, and designing efforts to increase public awareness on corruption.

Ensuring Collaboration
In view of the above, PACI has identified the following areas by which it would help the collaboration between all stakeholders towards designing corruption out of systems. These include: the role of technology in transaction processes has been identified by stakeholders as increasingly important.

Others include renewed relationship between governments and the private sector, towards sharing best practices on how to rebuild trust and integrity for better transparency; and role of leadership and the tone from leaders (tone form the top) for all stakeholders towards better partnerships between all to improve the level of disconnection and distrust between institutions and civil society.

Role of Businesses
Some of the ways identified by which business and institutions can play an instrumental role in addressing the course of rebuilding trust and integrity include:

Globalisation: Emphasis was made on the importance of networking because corporations or governments cannot fight corruption alone. Everyone should go beyond engaging in discussion and begin to act by building more transparency on both the supply and demand side of supply chains across the globe.

Walking the Talk: There is need for corporations to walk the talk and create their voice, in showcasing their actions through more Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Foundation efforts to promote transparency.

The panelists were also able to establish the role of communication in building trust and integrity. According to the panelist, businesses need to take hold of media to hone their successes making them more proactive in their approach than reactive. This will help combat the negative perception they fight and in the long run create a healthy perception in respect to trust and integrity.

Strategy & Implementation
To make the process work globally according to the PACI, actions are needed to collectively mobilise and establish long-lasting change. There is also need for creation of competition to break the sect of corrupt governance; and putting in place stronger social sanction
A global platform should also step in and take actions on behalf of the emerging economy; more countries and corporations should embrace globalisation, while the WEF needs to mirror the system of the commonwealth and shared values and legal framework which will ensure equal penalties/ right legislatures for all the member states.

Sahara Intervention
Sahara Group, a leading African Energy and Infrastructure Conglomerate has restated its commitment to collaborating with various stakeholders to design the menace of corruption from governance and businesses towards Rebuilding Trust and Integrity in Nigeria to boost economic growth and business sustainability.

The Sahara Group, which has power, oil and gas operations in twelve countries across four continents, made the call at the recent Geneva 2016 PACI Fall Conference which had Deloitte, ABB, Transparency International and Thompson Reuters among others in attendance.
The conference reiterated its focus on Building Trust and Integrity in Business following its huge collaborative success with various stakeholders in Mexico in helping to design new systems in the fight for transparency and anti-corruption drive.

Sahara Group led deliberations on the need to rebuilding trust and integrity in business and institutions with emphasis on Nigeria – as partnerships between the PACI community and Nigerian stakeholders could not come at a better time than this considering its anti-corruption campaign and efforts by the current government.

The Executive Director and Co-Founder Sahara, Mr. Tonye Cole, who served as one of the panelists in the first session, spoke on Re-building Trust and Integrity in Business and Institutions and noted that there was a “palpable wind of change” in Nigeria that signals the preparedness of the nation to record considerable progress with its ongoing anti-corruption policies.

He stated that for success in the drive for overcoming the corruption challenges, stakeholders must adopt the following: working together by all stakeholders – Government, Business and Civil Society – to rebuild trust across all areas towards dealing with anti-corruption.

To him, “civil society must lay more emphasis on the act of monitoring and reporting success stories of both governments and businesses in the drive to ensuring sustainability. Governments must collaborate with the private sector who have a critical role in helping the government identify areas with bottlenecks within the systems which leads to corruption and how government can work on these bottlenecks.

“Government must take the responsibility for creating the right policies and systems that will engineer the bottlenecks identified by the private sector out the systems. Business has to create their own voice along with those who have the same shared values and interest on the need to do business in a good way thereby leading to sustainability”, he added.

He stressed the need for businesses and business leaders to play a significant role in walking the talk by being role models by conducting business in a transparent manner to give hope to the future generation of businesses and business leaders.

Cole also called on the PACI Community to join the Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in his drive for anti-corruption in Nigeria through sustainable initiatives. He identified two quick areas where the PACI community can help intervene by working with the governme
nt and private sector to design initiatives that will help address bottlenecks and invariably help in the revamping of the economy.

The two areas include; Nigerian Customs and Exercise reforms considering the success of PACI in countries such as Chile, Tanzania and Columbia, and the Nigeria Electoral process – considering the fact that the country has started in the direction of reforms with the introduction of the biometric card reader, the PACI community can help create sustainable initiatives that would help improve the process and make the electioneering process more transparent.

In conclusion, according to PACI Co-Chair, David Cruickshank, the PACI community will focus on working more closely with Nigeria in 2017, through private public cooperation, leadership and governance. He also noted that technology would be a huge enabler for business integrity and collaboration in any initiative to be embarked upon in Nigeria, considering the success in Mexico.
He stated PACI’s resurgent commitment to boost global campaign on “spreading the anti-corruption epidemic”.