Information Management Systems: A Powerful Tool to Help Fight Corruption

I recently attended the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in Toronto and after sharing a few conversations with colleagues who are working in Africa, I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that corruption was on the rise. Of course, corruption has been and still is a threat to economic development in many countries. I guess my disappointment lies more into its recent increase in countries where our clients operate.

When Corruption Gets in the Way of Operations

It’s not news to anyone, data management is very sensitive and closely tied to corruption. Actually, my colleague François addressed this issue more in depth a couple years back. With this article, I’d like to share one of our first-hand experience with corruption while working with a client.

The client was based in Sub-Saharan Africa and using our data management software (or information management system) to track and monitor its land access activities. Things were going well and the system proved to be a tremendous tool to manage all the compensation and resettlement information. But at some point, there was a shift in the behavior of some staff members, who became reluctant to use our software. The project team nearly stopped using the system altogether.

We were quite puzzled as of why this was happening. Turns out the underlying issue was that the Boréalis Application made all the information available and traceable, thus refraining some staff members from milking the compensation funds to make more money. Transparency in data management prevented corruption, unlike Excel spreadsheets or other more flexible data management systems. Luckily on this project, a few of key users saw the benefit in using such a system and it remained the compensation tool used.

Achieving the World We Want

A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon a super interesting article about corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa: Achieving ‘The Africa We Want’ Starts With the Rule of Law. Although it disclosed some pretty disappointing facts on corruption, it also provided solutions to help in our battle against inequalities, bribery and corruption altogether. There’s also a reference to Agenda 2063, a global strategy to enhance how Africa’s resources are shared among Africans so that they benefit everyone.

Fighting corruption is an ongoing battle that we’ll be engaging in for many years still. A long journey is ahead of us, but if we equip ourselves with the right tools and join efforts, maybe we’ll be able to “Achieve the world we want” sooner that we think.

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