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Adjusting the Ethical Code of Conduct in East African Organisations

Posted: 31st May 2018 by Louisa Rochford
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Finance Monthly explores corruption in East African organisations and FBW Group’s efforts towards upholding ethical standards within their offices.


According to the EY’s Europe, Middle East, India and Africa Fraud Survey 2017, companies need to work harder to encourage their staff to successfully uphold ethical standards all over the world.[1]

63% of Africans working in corporate environment believe that regulation has a positive impact on ethical behaviour. In South Africa alone 79% of the population believes that bribery and corruption remains widespread in the country.

One in four Generation Y employees (ages 25 to 35) can justify offering cash payments to win or retain a business. Since Generation Y staff are the future leaders of our businesses, if the problem is not combated now, there is bound to be an overall problem with ethical behaviour in organisations in the future.

Kenya, through the Law Society of Kenya, adopted a code of ethics and standards of professional practice and ethical conduct for its members. These standards were benchmarked against The Commonwealth. However, many professional fields in East Africa remain unregulated.

According to the organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the real estate, construction and associated industries are among the sectors with the highest level of corruption risk: 40% of foreign bribery cases occurred in construction, transportation, and information and communication; however the Uganda 2017 corruption report does not prioritise the construction sector as corrupt.

Organisations like FBW Group are doing their best to uphold ethical standards within their offices. Using the UK Bribery Act 2010 as their baseline, FBW holds itself to world-class standards of anti-bribery.

Their internal policy goes into details like describing what a bribe is, assuring their staff that they will not be retaliated against should they whistle blow against something, intolerance of kickbacks of any sort, and keeping of adequate financial records to evidence payments made to third parties among other things.

Many property developments are compromised because of concessions made by those in charge of putting them up. A number of criminal issues can arise in the construction industry as Architects may find themselves involved in these if they participate in a project on which violations of law take place.

The violations may take the form of giving money to owner representatives in exchange for their agreement to select a certain team’s proposal, trading information to ensure a particular team gets the job and bid rigging.

Joseph Debuni, the Director of Engineering at FBW Uganda, discusses the need for the architectural and engineering firm to adhere to a strict anti-bribery policy to retain the reputation it has developed over the past 20 years.

According to Mary Rose Atubo, FBW Uganda’s Section Manager, it has come to a point where: “many of the people in the industry see our logo and tie it back to the fact that we do not hand out “wheel oilers” and in other words, do everything as the book says it should”.

“In doing so, initially we met our challenges, but we feel that others are slowly adapting to our way,” added Debuni.

“In order to change our narrative, we need to get back to our drawing board, change our attitudes towards work, enhance our productivity and polish up on the outlook of organisations in Africa. Then, we will be a stronger economy and will eventually rebuild the reputation of organisations in Africa.”




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