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A Focus On Sub-Saharan Africa

An article recently caught my eye by Herbert Igbanugo (here) and Raymond Gwenigale (here) of the U.S. based Igbanugo Partners International Law Firm titled “Assessing and Minimizing Customs-Related Corruption Risk in Sub-Saharan Africa’s Ports” (see here).

In this guest post, Igbanugo and Gwenigale provide an overview of their article.


“In Assessing and Minimizing Customs-Related Corruption Risk in Sub-Saharan Africa’s Ports, we examine the complex maze of Sub-Saharan Africa (“SSA”) ports and maritime commerce, shedding light on the ever present contagion of corruption and bribery in SSA ports and its effect on the region’s economic development. We also touch on methods for reducing corruption and bribery in SSA ports and how companies doing business in the region can protect themselves through the implementation of risk assessment and due diligence programs.”

“The increase in both containerized and general cargo in SSA Ports over the past decade has served to highlight the issues of corruption and bribery in the region and the need for a more efficient, regulated system to combat corruption. An important contributor to the corruption and inefficiency of SSA ports are the improper and antiquated regulation systems in place. Moving toward modern port-management structures such as the landlord port system and independent port regulator structures, as well as improving automation systems in Customs will help combat corruption at SSA ports.”

“A key element in minimizing customs-related corruption risks of companies doing business in SSA is the development of an in-depth understanding of the unique characteristics of the SSA countries in which they operate. Businesses must also understand and abide by the legal and regulatory regime in place in each country’s ports and create customs compliance strategies that reflect an understanding of the Customs clearance processes in specific countries. In discussing customs-related corruption in SSA ports, one must also keep in mind the impact of the African tradition of patronage. Customs reform must address these traditions and work to reduce the negative impacts of patronage if anti-corruption efforts are to be successful.”

“To protect themselves from FCPA prosecution companies need to adopt and enforce clear policies prohibiting all those who act on their behalf from engaging in bribery. Developing a mandatory exhaustive questionnaire for use by all agents is a good starting point for any risk mitigation effort. When retaining foreign customs clearance agents, firms or consultants, companies must minimize risk by meticulously scrutinizing the background of the consultant and securing a written agreement regarding FCPA compliance. The use of reputable culturally competent auditors and close supervisor of local compliance counsel or general counsel are also paramount.”

“The article is one in a series of African Counsel articles dedicated to eradicating corruption and improving corporate social responsibility in SSA. As a culturally competent SSA focused firm with the in depth knowledge of Africa that only those who call Africa home would possess, we are committed to becoming one of the best information sources for US organizations intent on operating in an SSA environment free of corruption. We are proud of our strong African heritage, SSA focus, and we are quite delighted to share our knowledge of Africa with everyone to whom it matters. Links to our African Counsel newsletter and SSA Practice Brochure can be found here and here.”

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