CSR in Nigeria

CSR in Nigeria

A few thoughts and reflections

Blog by Wayne Visser

Interview questions by Heini Purho, Aalto University School of Business in Finland

What is the most effective way of helping the local communities in Nigeria (e.g. infrastructural development projects, social investments (offering education, employment, health services), minimizing the environmental effects, giving money to the Nigerian government)? Please state why.

The GMOUs (Global MOUs) that some multinationals have set up with communities are a good approach, and have seen some success. I would say the first strategy is to approach community development as a cross-sector partnership (with government, civil society and labour unions) rather than philanthropy, which only creates dependence and is open to corruption. The second strategy is to invest in improving governance, i.e. the capacity and efficiency of local and regional government. This can take the form of secondments of skilled staff into government for a period, or shared training. The third strategy is to engage actively with social entrepreneurs and to support them financially and in kind. This creates a possibility of scalable solutions to sustainable development challenges.

In your opinion, what are the most pressing challenges or issues in Nigeria at the moment that should be addressed by Shell’s CSR policies and how should they be addressed?

The three areas that continue to challenge Nigerian society are corruption, pollution (especially spills and gas flaring) and human rights (including conflict and kidnappings). It is not for me to say how these should be tackled, but there is extensive guidance by organisations like Transparency International, EITI, UNEP and the new Protect-Respect-Remedy framework on business and human rights by the UN (requiring human rights due diligence investigations by companies).

Do you think Shell effectively helps the local communities and what could be done differently or is missing?(e.g. the level of communication between Shell, the government and communities, addressing the real needs of communities)

Shell operates in a very difficult environment in Nigeria, with high levels of corruption, conflict and poverty. Despite extensive efforts since the Saro-Wiwa incident in 1995 by Shell, levels of mistrust remain high, partly because of the government’s active participation in the operation of Shell, partly because of a very poor environmental record and partly because of ongoing conflict with activists. Shell faces the additional challenge of organised crime (sabotage, staff kidnappings, etc.). There are no easy solutions to these problems. Shell can only continue to focus its efforts on transparency (publish what you pay) and anti-corruption efforts, environmental improvements (to reduce spillages & flaring), community relations (partnerships with credible civil society organisations), creating shared value (more of the profits must be invested in the community) and reducing dependence on government.

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-quest-for-sustainable-business”]Link[/button] The Quest for Sustainable Business (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2013) CSR in Nigeria: A few thoughts and reflections, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 9 April 2013.

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