Posts Tagged ‘bribery’

Mobile phones and governance

14 June 2010

At Transparency International, we are working hard to get a couple of pilots on using mobile phones in anti-corruption work out this year. Related to this, I just came across this very useful Sida report (thanks @hajovanbeijma from Text to Change): The Innovative Use of Mobile Applications in East Africa (download from here).

A couple of really promising initiatives looking at citizen to government accountability in East Africa are mentioned, such as Twaweza in Uganda that plans to track school attendance, the Budget Tracking Tool and BungeSMS in Kenya, and the Kenyan government offers an SMS service through the Office of Public Communications for citizens to send information, suggestions or complaints. However, especially as initiatives in areas such as health abound, projects and tools to improve transparency and accountability are still struggling.

Johan Hellström gives a good analysis of the key challenges with the use of mobile phones in governance initiatives. He highlights this interesting point:

A challenge that is a bit more sector specific has to do with the mobile industry itself. The sector is highly competitive and privatised with profit as the primary focus. If a non profit service is launched it is usually being implemented as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in the entertainment, sports, housing, health, education and environment sectors, i.e. sectors with maximum reach out, good for marketing purposes and with few political hurdles. Good governance on the other hand is a public good. How does one attain a balance between the two? Today there are few innovative business plans that brings the two worlds together and therefore social and governance applications end up low on the priority scale of operators. Further, public service is a long term commitment, there are no quick fixes which a pilot can fix.

And the report also mentions, albeit very shortly, one of the issues I have found crucial when discussing possible implementations such as reporting instances of bribery through mobile phones. In governance related applications, anonymity and privacy is often of high importance given that in most countries bribery is an act of crime.

One of the first solutions that I know of providing the opportunity to complaint on crime in general and bribery cases in specific comes from Panama. Have a look at: http://www.mipanamatransparente.com. The project is being implemented by the Panaman chapter of Transparency International and the International Centre for Journalism amongst others.

Engaging the corporate sector against corruption through social media advocacy?

14 October 2008

I haven’t been a very prolific contributor to this blog over the past few weeks, which was at least partly due to the fact that I was travelling. This post will require a bit of background, as it comes round to an idea for the application of social media advocacy very much on the basis of a more traditional look at – in this case – the part of the equation sometimes called the supply side of corruption: corporate bribery.

Among other meetings in the Netherlands, I attended Ethical Corporation‘s 2nd European Anti-corruption summit. What struck me there was how seriously many corporations take corruption as a legal compliance issue without necessarily taking into full view the broader societal implications of corruption and what business can do to help address these. In other words, following the string of latest corporate cases and at least some efforts by government to prosecute these more vigorously – with prominent exceptions – (see TI’s latest progress report on enforcement of the OECD Anti-bribery convention here for details) there is a heightened sense of awareness among big business that the legal risks incurred by corruption are considerable and that at least individually, businesses need to act.

Very few companies however seem to regard anti-corruption as a fundamental corporate responsibility issue yet (though there were a few notable presentations and conversations highlighting the importance of doing just that during the conference). Approaching anti-corruption as a responsibility issue not limited to compliance with the law (while that of course is fundamental) has the potential to not only protect one business from legal harm (a damaged reputation and lost business, jail time for senior management, etc. included) but to benefit society at large by helping to create the environment for sustainable development. Real opportunities exist for example for business to become engaged with collective action approaches against corruption (a good resource on these has been compiled here) that can help move the debate in the compliance and quite a lot more direction.

The reason I am bringing this issue up in the social media context is that beyond the immediate business case for anti-corruption (more…)


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