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Denmark pursues zero-tolerance on corruption in Ghana

Danish companies operating in Ghana, and active in the Danish Anti-Corruption Partnership, are issued the direct mobile number of the Danish Ambassador, Tove Degnbol. This is to encourage companies to call immediately, if they find themselves in situations, where they feel pressured to pay bribes to authorities.

Sustainable Development Goal 16
UN's Sustainable Development Goal 16. Source: UN

The Danish Anti-Corruption Partnership was launched by the Embassy of Denmark in Accra in early 2017 and supplements several other Danish anti-corruption efforts over the years. Anti-corruption is part of the UN’s sustainable development goals, and it is essential for international and national development.

“Denmark has for several years supported the fight against corruption through our Good Governance Programme. Here, we have primarily given broader support to institutions such as courts and human rights institutions, but also to organisations as the Ghanaian chapter of Transparency international for training and advocacy,” says Nicolas Roy-Bonde, Counselor at the embassy and responsible for the Anti-Corruption Partnership.

“But we wanted to also take practical action. In our conversation with businesses in Ghana, corruption is often mentioned as one of the main challenges of doing business in this country; and in December 2016, Ghana had a new government, who promises to act on corruption, so we thought the time was right for this initiative.”

11 of the Danish companies operating in Ghana have so far joined the partnership and meet at the embassy on a regular basis.

“In this closed forum, companies share ideas and experiences – good and bad – on how to tackle the very delicate dilemmas they often face. What can a company do, for example, if clearing of imports or a necessary approval from the fire authorities drag on and on and seem to be conditional of paying a ‘little something’? It also gives us at the embassy a hands-on insight to the problems and we can use that to raise issues with relevant authorities, of course without naming companies”

The 5 major Danish shipping companies operating in Ghana have formed a similar network focusing on anti-corruption efforts in the maritime sector.

Danish role models
The Danish companies operating in Ghana typically have a clear zero-tolerance on corruption policy. But what is more, they also practice it according to the Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Tove Degnbol:

“A common characteristic of Danish companies in Ghana – and I am particularly proud to say this – is that they do not pay bribes. There is a clear attitude towards corruption as a thing that you simply do not embark upon," she said.

"We are discussing it intensively with the Danish companies, and they very often come to us and mention examples of pressure that they are under. But it is also a common message that if you start paying, it will never end. Next time it will be more and more money required; so, also business-wise it is a very bad strategy. Overriding this, of course, is the moral argument that it is a complete waste of resources, and that we will not contribute to build capacity and institutions if we are at the same time undermining them through paying bribes," said Tove Degnbol.