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Code of Business Ethics & Excellence

Private Sector Federation - Rwanda. English & Kinyarwanda July, 2009 This project was undertaken with the support of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) & PSF members. Guiding Code of Corporate Governance



Guiding Code of Corporate Governance

Introduction The Code of Business Ethics & Excellence has been developed with an aim of establishing and encouraging the highest standards for guiding business practice in Rwanda. Vision 20/20 has assured that business organizations in Rwanda have a key role to play in the development of our country. Every business in Rwanda has the potential to help or hinder this hope for the future. The actions of every company reveal the standards, values and ambitions of those that manage it. Are contracts upheld? Are customers satisfied? Do employees feel fairly treated? Do other organizations look at yours as the one to respect? This code applies to all types of businesses as they all play a part in the private sector’s contribution to a successful Rwandan market economy. The actions of some businesses reveal low ethical standards and have tarnished the image of Rwanda’s private sector. Some businesses are habitual loan defaulters that have contributed to an environment of mistrust, making it harder for all businesses to access financing and resulting in higher interest rates. Some enterprises are awarded contracts yet do not fulfill their obligations, leading to unfinished projects and impeding future partnerships. Customers are treated inefficiently and fail to receive the value they expect, stunting the development of entire sectors (e.g. hospitality; tourism). All such actions of individual companies have the collective effect of limiting economic development in Rwanda. Businesses have both the responsibility and the opportunity to benefit society and set an example for the entire population. This is seen when business actions reveal values such as: fairness, honesty, equity, professionalism and excellence. This has become a necessity in an international environment where trade and investment flows are increasingly dependent on good ethical standards. Worldwide, business enterprises are increasingly expected to create more than mere products, jobs and profits‌ they are expected to create these things for the sake of a more noble objective, one that may impact a broad variety of stakeholders. Profitability, while important, should never come at the expense of important values, community norms, and standards of respect, quality and integrity. The Code of Business Ethics & Excellence will strengthen the identity and reputation of the private sector in Rwanda, improve the business culture and work climate embodied in our industry sectors, and may yield important gains in financial performance as well. The Private Sector Federation (PSF) will ensure that those that adhere to this code avoid penalties and receive certain benefits. Plans are underway to partner with the Public Procurement Authority to ensure that only those that adhere to the code are awarded Public tenders. PSF will also encourage banks to ease the process of accessing finance for member institutions noted as people of integrity. PSF will create and distribute awards to publicly recognize those businesses that significantly model standards worthy of increasing the reputation of the private sector in Rwanda. This Code of Business Ethics & Excellence will become the standard by which such determinations are made.

Guiding Code of Corporate Governance


1.1 Situating the Code of Business Ethics & Excellence Many nations and industries around the world are developing standards for sensitizing businesses to the legal, ethical, social and environmental factors that accompany their work. At the PSF, our efforts are designed to improve the performance of business institutions while ensuring the larger context in which these institutions operate may also benefit, and not be harmed. Elsewhere, implementation of such programs have demonstrated significant benefits, including increased foreign investment, improved environmental stewardship, rising employee and customer satisfaction levels, and sustained long-term economic growth,. These results have been attributed to a reduction in business risks and costs resulting from unethical business dealings, an increase in trust and cooperative partnerships, and the benefits resulting from an improved international reputation. Indicative of worldwide trends, a series of anti-corruption initiatives have been undertaken by the OECD, World Bank and the IMF as well as by the European Union and the United States. The Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (1996), the OECD Convention Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (1997) and the Criminal Law convention on Corruption adopted by the council of Europe (1998) are examples of the new standards that are being enforced.The European Union also passed a convention (1997) that criminalizes transnational bribery. Even in the EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement there are several clauses directly related to issues of corruption. Together, these conventions illustrate the importance being placed on ethical issues, and the significant role the private sector must play. It is against this backdrop that the Rwandan private sector proposes the adoption of a Code of Business Ethics & Excellence. PSF realizes the need for businesses in Rwanda to embrace the highest standards in their activities. Furthermore, the PSF accepts responsibility for developing a program that can discourage bad behavior and encourage the best. PSF believes that businesses in Rwanda can regulate themselves more effectively than any enforcement body, and the creation of a standard can prove useful in helping business managers know what to strive for. It will be those businesses in Rwanda that accept this challenge we will someday thank for the benefits that accrue to employees, customers, shareholders, industries, communities, the environment, the economy and future of this nation.

1.2 Why Ethics? PSF finds it appropriate to pursue an ethics initiative to support enterprises in Rwanda. As the economy in this country develops, it is essential that a standard is established to encourage best practice in a number of key business dealings, including: transparency in financial matters, eliminating corruption, ensuring product quality, proper treatment of workers, workplace health and safety, environmental protection and compliance with business laws. The main aim of this initiative is to ensure integrity, openness and accountability for private 4

Guiding Code of Corporate Governance

sector members in all their business conduct. Clearly, each business operates in a unique context with various ethical and social concerns. It is important that business managers choose to self-regulate their conduct, as they know best how an ethical standard will apply in their business. Furthermore, individual businesses have the most to gain from the reputation they will earn by adopting such a standard, while there are many positive results may also accrue to other relevant stakeholders. It seems only business management can develop a culture for decision-making that is built on ethical principles and finds its way into the daily actions of its employees.

1.3 Why Excellence? Too often, concerns about ethics dwell exclusively on what NOT to do. While this will always be an important concern, PSF believes that focusing on what to avoid will never bring out the best in an individual, organization, or nation. This initiative intends to help the private sector in Rwanda become a model of what to do, not simply what to avoid. The standard for guiding Rwanda’s private sector should do more than uphold the law, protect the environment or strive to meet a moral minimum. Such concerns are often seen to constrain business managers, yet managers could be leaders in resolving these concerns if they could instead view each as an opportunity to innovate. Efforts to identify and celebrate innovative best practices are most likely to inspire future business leaders and build the reputation of Rwanda’s business environment. As a result, this program will attempt to provide examples of what excellence looks like in practical business terms. The Code of Business Ethics & Excellence will award those that are seen as strong role models to follow. Creativity, discipline and determination are highly valued in business; great things are possible when business managers apply such traits to pursue the excellence of their customers, companies and communities. Excellent service is what customers tell others about and builds a company’s reputation. Excellence is what makes a business a leading role model in its sector. Excellent business practices will establish Rwanda as the preferred business environment among neighboring countries. These are some of the reasons this PSF initiative intends to reveal and encourage excellence.

1.4 Scope of the Code The Code of Business Ethics & Excellence has been written as a guide for member institutions in Rwanda’s private sector. This new standard is meant to apply to companies of all types, sizes and any sector. Although company managers and board members are expected to read and voluntarily commit to the standard as described, this standard is meant to apply to all relevant stakeholders of the company. Thus, this standard is meant to apply to individuals and institutions impacting the business, including: owners, directors, employees, consultants, suppliers, and other partners key to fulfilling the mission of the company. The Code of Business Ethics & Excellence is intended to be a self-regulatory mechanism for PSF members. This initiative clearly conveys what PSF believes its members should stand for and to the extent member business activity meets such a standard, there will be an increase Guiding Code of Corporate Governance


in mutual trust and cooperation within the private sector. Public offices (for example the Public Procurement Authority) and others that deal with our members will look favorably on those that reach such a standard. An Ethics Committee comprised of peer member institutions will hold accountable those that fail to meet this standard, and will recognize those members that lead the effort to establish best practices. It is important to note that the Code of Business Ethics & Excellence is not so much a tool for policing members so much as a mechanism for encouraging ethics and excellence among PSF members.

1.5 Objectives of the Code of Business Ethics & Excellence The main objectives of this initiative to create a new standard for the private sector of Rwanda are:

• Sensitize businesses to the moral and social implications of their actions • Provide a self-regulating forum for evaluating the moral and social implications of business activity among peers

• Build a platform for celebrating business practices of a moral or social nature it would be good for others to emulate

• Aid companies in thinking through their motivations , objectives, values and actions • Help new employees evaluate prospective organizations, work environments and expectations

• Empower employees and others to make the best decisions • Deter behavior that is unethical or harmful to society or the environment • Encourage business behavior that is noble and worthy of building trust and a strong reputation

• Establish the reputation of the private sector in Rwanda as one known for integrity, honesty, citizenship and accountability

Preamble • Reaffirming that the private sector is the engine of growth for Rwanda, • Acknowledging that the private sector is a crucial element responsible for job creation, funding government initiatives, and attracting foreign investment,


Guiding Code of Corporate Governance

• Emphasizing that the private sector contributes significantly towards an improvement in the standards of living and quality of life for all in Rwanda,

• Given the Rwandan culture promotes ethical values based on integrity (ubunyangamugayo), honesty (ukuri), transparency, trust (ubupfura), accountability, and citizenship (umuganda) it is vital that the business community relies on these same foundational values to guide their business activity,

• Considering member institutions and others have much to gain from adhering to such a standard (and much to lose if they fail)

• Recognizing the efforts by government to promote good governance by establishing and

enforcing company law, proper banking regulations, and the office of the Ombudsman, and

• Asserting that the PSF is uniquely positioned to understand, organize and encourage best practice across Rwanda’s private sector

While the private sector is widely acknowledged as the engine for economic development in Rwanda, it is less often understood as the role model for moral and social development. Through an abiding respect for the law and the promotion of positive values such as those named above, the private sector may be a leader in many important aspects of Rwanda’s growth. The Private Sector Federation (PSF) as the representative and voice of private enterprises, has a crucial role to play in the leadership of the business community as well as the promotion of free enterprise and excellent management. PSF will work together with all stakeholders to: - Help build trust and confidence in individual businesses and the private sector of Rwanda as a whole - Create public awareness of the importance of ethical and citizenship beneficial behavior - Encourage the development of a uniquely Rwandan business culture based on positive values - Push for an environment of workable competition where the law is honored and contracts are fulfilled - Urge for national standards on good governance and transparency, prevention of bribery and corruption - Establish internal standards for developing, adopting and regulating the moral and social guidelines for business Guiding Code of Corporate Governance


Section 1: Values & Responsibilities A. Core PSF Values The core PSF values which our members claim as their own include: a) Innovation b) Integrity c) Service Excellence d) Determination e) Cooperation f) Social Responsibility In order to see the positive values of Rwandan culture and the above PSF values lived out in business practice, it seems helpful to describe a number of responsibilities expected of various stakeholders in any business setting. The following delineates some of these responsibilities, beginning with the expectations that seem appropriate to place of individual men and women in business.

B. Personal Conduct • We must respect and abide by Rwandan Law in all business activity • We all have many roles to play in society, yet we must always be aware that our conduct

when not at work can yet reflect on the company’s reputation. Often, our social life is not far removed from our work life and acting with integrity ensures both maintain a strong reputation.

• We generate, receive and store information in our work that is valuable to outsiders. We must be careful not to disclose proprietary information without first confirming we have permission and the right to do so. We have a responsibility to safeguard valuable company information to which we have access.

• We must not allow our personal interests to negatively impact with our official duties in

the company. If we have a personal matter that may influence, or appear to influence, the interests of our company in the duties we’ve been given, we must declare such matters and take appropriate steps to resolve any conflicts of interest.

• We must each make sure that our personal dealings with customers, suppliers, contactors and colleagues does not place us in a position of obligation that may lead to decisions that are not in the best interest of our business.


Guiding Code of Corporate Governance

• The company’s property and products belong to the company, not to its employees. If

we take company property or products for our own use or to give or sell, we commit theft and are liable to prosecution and dismissal.

• The company’s services and facilities are not to be used for private purposes except with prior permission from management personnel responsible.

• Personal conduct that adversely affects work performance, whether on or off duty, is not acceptable.

• It is good practice for an employee to seek advice and permission from their current employer before undertaking a secondary employment.

• Any employment or economic activity which an employee engages in outside their current role (even when unpaid or casual) must first obtain the approval of their current manager.

• The Board of Directors, managers, and employees of a company should carry out their duties with high professional standards.

• Our dealings with all who have contact with us must be fair, honest, courteous and efficient.

C. Combating Bribery • Member companies and businesses of the PSF should prohibit bribery in any form and safeguard against all involvement in bribery, directly or indirectly, in any business transaction or relationship.

• PSF and its members should aim to create and maintain a trust-based atmosphere

where bribery and corruption are not tolerated. All members should adopt statements of zero tolerance to corruption and ensure provisions are made to allow the reporting of unethical or inappropriate behavior. These statements and provisions should be put in visible places where all relevant stakeholders can read them to demonstrate management’s desire that everyone participate.

• Members of PSF should openly communicate details of their anti-corruption efforts and should be accessible and responsive to all internal and external stakeholders.

• As company representatives, we must not ask for any gift or favor from any party if it may

be perceived to negatively impact the way that party carries out their responsibilities on behalf of their own institution.

• As company representatives, we must not accept any gift or favor that could be perceived to negatively impact our honest conduct on behalf of the company.

Guiding Code of Corporate Governance


• While moderate business entertaining is acceptable, we must guard against such

expenses that appear to influence the way we or others conduct our duties for our employer. Whenever possible, hospitality should be offered with no “strings attached” and, when feasible, reciprocated.

• Our businesses are to be managed with due consideration to the principles of democracy, transparency and integrity.

D. Key Stakeholder Relations & Responsibilities The values and responsibilities listed above will be implemented in different ways among different stakeholders. In the pages that follow, some of the specific implications of this standard are delineated for the stakeholders that seem most relevant for PSF member institutions.

1. Relations With Suppliers & Contractors • • • •

We believe in fair and open competition. We treat our competitors honorably and we aim to develop and maintain long-term relationships with suppliers and contractors based on mutual trust and respect. Our procurement of supplies and services is done with high ethical standards that ensure a quality end product and the continued confidence of customers, suppliers and the public. We must ensure that the securing of services and the purchasing of goods are based solely on price, quality, service and need. We must ensure that our suppliers and contractors are paid on time and according to terms of trade as contractually agreed upon.

2. Responsibilities To Shareholders And The Financial Community • • •


An aim of our business is to achieve growth in earnings for our shareholders over the long-term by productive, efficient and competitive operations. We acknowledge that our shareholders and potential shareholders are entitled to know any information that is relevant in order to evaluate the management of their current or potential investments. We will make available true and accurate information on the management of the company, its financial position, and its general plans to all who have a legitimate interest in the company.

Guiding Code of Corporate Governance

• • •

Our company policy calls for the maintenance and presentation of complete and accurate financial records and accounts in accordance with all applicable laws and professional accounting standards. We do not tolerate any false, artificial or misleading statement or entries in any of the company’s financial accounts, records, documents or financial statements. We will never make use of information that has not been made generally available to the public for our own personal advantage. Benefiting from inside information in this manner is to be avoided.

3. Relations With Customers And Consumers • • •

We aim to provide efficient and courteous service to our customers. We aim to keep our customers truthfully informed about the company’s capabilities without misrepresentation, exaggeration or overstatement. We aim to provide our customers with products that meet high standards of safety, quality and reliability. We take full responsibility for products that fail to meet these required standards.

4. Employment Practices • •

• •

The occupational health, safety and welfare of employees are a prime concern of our company. It is our responsibility to comply with occupational health and safety laws and to provide good and safe working conditions. Our company aims to achieve equality of opportunity and treatment for all its employees in recruitment, training, promotion, transfer, benefits and discipline. All employees will be treated as individuals according to their ability to meet job requirements. The dignity and individuality of every employee will be respected. The privacy and confidentiality of employee records will be safeguarded. An employee who believes he or she is being required to act in a way that is inconsistent with the standards in this code or who believes others are breaching this code should report the matter through an appropriate channel, and it is the responsibility of company management to ensure each employee is aware of such channels. The company undertakes to ensure, to the best of its capacity, that no retribution or negative impact accrues to an employee who in good faith notifies others of a breach of this code through the channels provided. Guiding Code of Corporate Governance


• •

Employees shall be kept informed of company matters affecting them, including the company’s goals, direction, and performance. Channels of communication will be kept open in order to foster an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect between the company and its employees.

5. Responsibilities To The Community •

• • • •


Care for the environment is one of the company’s main concerns.We are committed to sustainable development in that we aim to manufacture, handle and dispose of all materials in compliance with the law and in a responsible manner without creating risk to human health or the environment. Participation by directors, managers and employees in community activities (e.g. Umuganda) and civic affairs is encouraged as it demonstrates the value our organization places on citizenship. The company supports charitable organizations and encourages directors, managers and employees to do likewise. The company endorses the democratic principles embedded in the Rwandan constitution. Contribution to political organizations or electoral candidates is specifically noted in the company’s records and will be made in accordance with all applicable laws.

Guiding Code of Corporate Governance

Section 2: Shaping Organizational Culture A. During business transactions and other activities, management should promote the principle of equal opportunities for all. Therefore, decisions or acts based on nepotism, ethnicity, clan, ancestry, region, sex, religion or other forms of discrimination or divisionism are prohibited. B. We will support government initiatives in our capacity to fight genocide ideology and other forms of discrimination. C. We aim at being receptive and listening to those who approach us. D. Members who are involved in the production industry will attempt to provide accurate and clear labeling of products and ensure that products are safe and safely produced. E. We will ensure that all consumer rights are protected. F. We will aim at safeguarding company data. G. We aim at promoting a culture of teamwork and providing subordinates with the means to perform their duties. H. We encourage respect for employees as it relates to individual work schedules, vacations and holidays, and submission of reports where appropriate. I. We aim at working hard and being efficient. J. We strive to promote the economy of the country in our businesses. K. We discourage opportunistic actions that clearly challenge this code. L. The appropriate dress code should be observed by directors, managers, and employees and in each member company. M. We promote a culture of appropriate internal and external communication in our company.

Guiding Code of Corporate Governance


Section 3: Deterring the Worst and Encouraging the Best A. We commit to avoiding anti-competitive behavior, including bid-rigging, collusion, and complicity to price fixing. B. PSF members will avoid tax evasion and pay taxes in due time. C. We strongly discourage non-disclosure of material facts relevant for stakeholders to make decisions (e.g. shareholders, banks, the Rwanda Revenue Authority) D. PSF members will not engage anti-competitive pricing, or misleading or offensive advertising. E. We will pursue what seems best for the long-term interest our companies, our communities and our country. F. We will use our creativity and discipline to pursue excellence as seems most appropriate in our particular business and industry sector G. We aspire to establish best practice in the area of moral and social leadership among companies of our size and type, and among the private sector as a whole.


Guiding Code of Corporate Governance

Section 4: Commitment, Self-Regulation & Feedback A. A member company that wishes to adhere to the code needs to sign an adherence form (see Annex 1) B. It is the personal responsibility of every director, manager and employee to understand and comply with this Code of Business Ethics & Excellence. Managers are also responsible for ensuring that those they supervise can read, understand and comply with this code. C. Each company’s annual statement of account should include a statement indicating adherence to this Code of Business Ethics & Excellence. D. Problems encountered in complying with this code and suggestions for improving it should be made promptly to the Corporate Governance Steering Committee in PSF. E. The PSF General Assembly will elect a committee comprised of members of integrity who will monitor implementation of the code among members who have voluntarily chosen to adopt this standard. The committee will be known as the Ethics Committee. F. Channels of comment and complaint to the Ethics Committee are open to shareholders, managers, employees, customers, consumers, suppliers, contractors and competitors of member companies. All comments and complaints will be considered impartially and efficiently, and will be responded to in a reasonable timeframe. As this is a new initiative, feedback from member institutions are requested and may provide important refinements in future years (see Annex 2).

Guiding Code of Corporate Governance


Annex 1 I ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ (Chairman of the Board, Managing Director or Business Owner) of

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

fully understand and commit my organization and relevant stakeholders to the guidance provided in this Code of Business Ethics & Excellence. Furthermore, my organization and its stakeholders will accept the challenge in this document to pursue our business activity with excellence and integrity. I realize and hereby signify that I am voluntarily committing my organization to this standard, and that my organization will be chiefly responsible for regulating our efforts to reach this standard in the way that seems best given the particularities of our business. Signed: Date:


Guiding Code of Corporate Governance

Annex 2 We would like you to help the PSF Ethics Committee to improve this document and our ongoing efforts to prevent the worst and encourage the best of businesses in Rwanda. To this end, as someone who has read our Code of Business Ethics & Excellence, we would like your opinion on any refinements that you feel may be necessary. To this end, please provide your honest and candid response to the following questions: 1. What would you like to see changed about this document and the larger PSF initiative for business ethics and excellence? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. What do you appreciate most about this document and the larger PSF initiative for business ethics and excellence? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. What do you anticipate will be the most difficult aspect of this code to abide by in your organization? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Guiding Code of Corporate Governance


4. What do you anticipate will be the most beneficial aspect of this code for you to strive for in your organization? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for your response. Your comments will be read and, where feasible and prudent, changes will be made. You have just become an essential partner the efforts of the PSF to pursue this initiative with excellence. Name (optional): Date:


Guiding Code of Corporate Governance

The Private Sector Federation: Brief Profile The Private Sector Federation (PSF) is a professional organization, dedicated to promote and represent the interests of the Rwandan business community. It was established in December 1999, replacing the former Rwandan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It is the Apex organization and voice of the private sector that groups 9 professional chambers. Within the nine chambers are a number of business associations totaling 55 as of June 2006. The nine chambers that form the Private Sector Federation are as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock Chamber of Industry Chamber of Commerce and Services Chamber of Tourism Chamber of Financial Services Chamber of Crafts, Artists and Artisans Chamber of Liberal Professions Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs Chamber of Young Entrepreneurs

The Private Sector Federation (PSF) is a key role player in enabling the private sector to respond to Rwanda’s vision for its future. As the country’s flagship business institution, private enterprises look to PSF to address or facilitate solutions to business constraints that they face and represent their interests in dialogue with the government. The PSF has made tremendous progress in restructuring itself and fostering Private Sector Development in Rwanda. Nonetheless, the road forward is arduous as significant business challenges persist. The RPSF 2007-2010 Strategy aims to build on the momentum gained to date while at the same time focusing PSF’s efforts to a limited number of key priority areas. These are: 1. Promote Entrepreneurship and Business Growth 2. Build Private Sector Capacity 3. Effective private sector advocacy 4. Support active involvement in Regional and International Trade 5. Develop Quality Member Services and enhance Communication The mission of PSF is to represent and serve the interests of the entire private sector through lobbying and advocacy, while at the same time providing timely and relevant business development services that lead to sustainable private sector led economic growth and development, and the Vision is to create a credible and effective institution supporting the emergency of a strong private sector for Rwanda’s economic transformation.

This project was undertaken with the support of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) & PSF members. Guiding Code of Corporate Governance


Code of Business Ethics & Excellence Published by PSF Rwanda P.O. Box 319, Gikondo Kigali, Rwanda Tel. +250 570650/4/5/8 , +250 570660/2/4 Fax. +250 570651 Email Copyright Š PSF Rwanda 2008. All rights reserved. Copyrights and all / or other intellectual property rights on all designs, graphics, logos, images, photos texts trade names, trademarks, etc. in this publication are reserved. The reproduction, transmission or modification of any part of the contents of this publication is strictly prohibited.

Private Sector Federation - Rwanda. English & Kinyarwanda July, 2009 This project was undertaken with the support of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) & PSF members.