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agillies 1501 removebg previewMultinational companies regularly hire agents and fixers to help them win lucrative business in complex or unfamiliar environments. These intermediaries, who include both established firms and well-connected individuals, provide introductions to decision-makers, intelligence on how to secure a contract, and an on-the-ground presence in far-flung lands. Sometimes they also serve as conduits for bribes.

Recent events in the oil industry suggest that companies may start opening doors on their own, without relying on these “middlemen.”

Last Monday, the large commodity trader Trafigura announced that it would no longer hire third parties to perform “business development” functions. A few weeks earlier, two other commodities giants, Glencore and Gunvor, indicated that they would significantly reduce their use of this type of intermediary as well. That means three of the world’s largest trading companies may desert a decades-old playbook. Their statements follow an uptick in related anti-corruption investigations, with current inquiries examining trader activities in Brazil, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Venezuela. Intermediaries feature prominently in most of the accusations.

Read more: Will extractive companies move away from corruption-prone intermediaries?

Countries across resource-rich sub-Saharan Africa are failing to reap the benefits from their wealth of endowments of oil and minerals due to an “implementation gap” between the laws that govern extractive industries and the practices in reality.

An analysis by the Natural Resource Governance Institute, NRGI of the extractive industries in 28 sub-Saharan African countries reveals that all but two – Botswana and Zambia – are failing to deliver the standards laid down in their laws. Researchers using data from the Resource Governance Index found that in this respect the region performs worse than any other in the world.

This is contained in an extractive sector release issued in London and Accra today by the Natural Resource Governance Institute.

Read more: Poor implementation of laws characterise African natural resource sector

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