The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has enormous economic potential thanks to its rich mineral and forest resources, and vast tracts of arable land. The business environment in the country is, however, with many challenges as a consequence of many years of internal conflict that not only shattered livelihoods but severely weakened the formal economy and institutions of governance. Weak governance, human rights violations, endemic corruption and extortion among others has seen investors turn away from the country as it is considered a high risk investment destination.
In recognition of the risks associated with the poor governance and the desire to contribute to the country’s sustainable development, leading businesses in the DRC took the lead in the in the fight against corruption. This was under the auspices of the Federation of Congolese Enterprises (FEC) with coordination and technical support from the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC), the Ethics Institute of South Africa (EthicsSA) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP. The objectives of this private sector initiative include:
The AICC with support from BAAC and the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) Centre for Cooperation with the Private Sector (CCPS) organised and facilitated an international workshop focusing on private sector collective action on anti-corruption. The workshop held in July 2009 drew 50 participants from the key sectors of the DRC economy such as mining, telecommunications, forestry and financial, senior government officials led by the minister of justice and representatives of the ministries of industry, trade and national economy, local and international civil society organisations including Greenpeace Africa, Transparency International, the Ethics Institute of South Africa and Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI-DRC).
The main recommendations from the workshop included the creation of a platform to coordinate private sector response, facilitate training and capacity building in anti-corruption and ethics management, and facilitate the development of a private sector code of conduct and engagement with government and civil society. Companies were called upon to improve their corporate governance and transparency practices.
In March 2010, the AICC/BAAC and EthicsSA in collaboration, with support from the USIP and institutional backing from the FEC organised and facilitated a roundtable discussion for senior executives drawn from the private and public sectors. The main purpose of the roundtable dialogue was to follow up on the recommendations of the July 2009 international workshop and to define the implementation infrastructure. The main outcome of the roundtable dialogue was the formation of a working group chaired by Marie-Chantal Kaninda, Business Manager for De Beers DRC Exploration.
The working group was tasked with the prioritisation of implementation strategies and with technical support from the AICC/BAAC and EthicsSA to develop a working plan as follows:
In July 2010, the working group organised a two day International Forum on the Development of a Common Code of Conduct held in July. The first day of the forum was devoted to engaging high level executives on the private sector initiatives with the aim of getting the buy-in and participation of their entities. The second day was dedicated to the framework for a shared code of conduct on anti-corruption and ethics management. This code will build on and add value to existing codes of conduct.
International Forum on the Development of a Common Code of Conduct
On 9 November 2010, a follow-up workshop was held In Kinshasa with the aim of Conclusion of the Common Code of Ethics for the private sector in the DRC.