Due diligence and investigations in West & Central Africa have often proved to be difficult with limited digitised information and poorly organised corporate registries. But in some countries in the region, things are changing.
In our latest spotlight interview, we chat with one of our Network Partners in Senegal to find out how he transitioned from working as a journalist to conducting investigations and due diligence in West & Central Africa. He sheds light on the region’s poor archiving system and discusses the future of conducting investigations there.
What is your professional background? How did you get into this industry?
I am a practicing journalist with an academic background in political science. I have worked in different capacities for national, regional and international media outlets including the Economist Intelligence Unit based in London as a Contributing Writer. In this capacity, I wrote about international development in Liberia, health, trade, governance and related issues.
My journey into this sphere of work began in September 2018 when an opportunity availed itself to me. A due diligence researcher had contacted a former colleague for help with a documented site visit in central Dakar. Several other assignments including source enquiries, corporate filings retrieval, litigation checks and support for different jurisdictions across Africa followed later and the rest, as they say, is history. Since then, I have been commissioned for work in countries including DR Congo, Gabon, Niger, Senegal, Ghana, Guinea, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire.
How has the pandemic affected your ability to gather information?
At the onset of the pandemic, movements were restricted, businesses and offices were suspended and partially or fully closed and working hours cut down drastically. These measures resulted in unusual delays as well as inflated costs of obtaining information, especially records from official sources.
What, if any, are the biggest challenges to accessing information in your region?
The challenges are numerous but the three major ones I consider are :
- Poor archiving that results in misplacement, damage, or loss of official records and information.
- Bureaucracy that results in waste of time, denials and restrictions.
- Lack of centralised national digital databases to facilitate easy and quick access to official records and information.
Do you see this improving in the short/medium term?
Unless countries and businesses see making information available to the public as important for awareness, empowerment, transparency and accountability, this challenge may persist for a while. However, countries like Rwanda, Uganda, Togo and Nigeria are making great strides to make information readily available.
What is on the horizon for you and your work?
I see great prospects for me and my work in this industry. I have learned a lot during the course of these years working with clients, local operatives, local courts, business registries, businesses, security personnel among others. I am still learning to understand processes, approaches and more. Indeed, there is still a lot to be learned.
How have you found working with the Ground Truth Intelligence platform?
I think Ground Truth Intelligence is a great platform that offers many possibilities.
Everyone at Ground Truth loves to talk about and eat great food - we talk about it a lot! What is your favourite dish?
I have many favourite dishes. There is no joke about it. But since you have asked for a single dish, I will list garden eggs sauce prepared with fresh fish, bell peppers, onions, and hot peppers and a bit of agro oil served with white rice.
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