CSR In Nigeria

Tony Usidamen, Head of Corporate Communications, Dana Group

In keeping with global trends, the last 15 years of democratic rule have seen a significant rise in the uptake of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Nigeria, going by the huge investments of large companies (mainly in the oil & gas sector, financial services sector, telecoms sector, manufacturing industry and some government agencies) in CSR projects.

However, unlike in developed countries where companies have much greater appreciation of the strategic importance of building business practices that create sustainable economies and environments (a holistic view of CSR), CSR in Nigeria is seen mainly as “Corporate philanthropy” – a way of giving back to the society out of the profit a company makes from its business operations.

Consequently, for most Nigerian firms, there is a poor or non-existent link between the corporate culture, employee relation policies, product development & service delivery guidelines or customer engagement practices and their CSR activities. CSR is viewed as an “add-on” (an isolated, extraneous activity) not an inherent “way or manner of conducting business”. This, surely, is a challenge for CSR practice and practitioners in Nigeria today.

A few indigenous firms are taking the lead in that regard, initiating sustainable conversations on CSR through a periodic publication “CSR Files” and yearly roundtable for stakeholders. The firm also publishes and distributes an annual ‘CSR Review’ to determine the importance and uptake of Corporate Social Responsibility in Nigeria.

Nigeria is a “developing” country and the attention of organizations to increased global awareness on corporate accountability, transparency and international best practices is growing as well.

Thanks to globalization and the entrenchment of democracy, Nigerian consumers too are becoming more enlightened, more critical and more demanding of the government and corporate organisations. They choose to make their purchases from firms that are perceived to be more customer-focused and environmentally friendly.

There is, therefore, a paramount need for public relations experts, CSR practitioners and key decision/policy makers from both the private and public sector, who are expected to form part of the delegates, need to be better-informed and adequately equipped in developing and implementing of robust and sustainable CSR policies & initiatives.