With about half of the world’s fastest growing countries based in Africa, the continent is quickly becoming a global business and economic hotspot.
However, hand-in-hand with this growth comes rapid industry expansion, recruitment of a global workforce and – of notable concern – increasing risk of qualification and CV fraud.
This is according to Ina van der Merwe, director and CEO of African background screening market leader, Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), who highlights that African qualifications carry a high risk of being fraudulent.
“As a whole, cross-border qualifications are more likely to be fake, altered or all together fraudulent. Our data suggests that risk indicators on these qualifications have increased from 40% in 2015 to 43% in 2016 to-date (January to October).
“Although a portion of this risk can be attributed to other confounding factors, it is clear that there is a greater propensity for qualification fraud with foreign candidates or in countries where background screening is not yet common practice. A candidate may be less likely to lie on their CV if they know that their credentials will be verified.
“Unfortunately, our research shows that the vast majority of cross border recruits are not being screened sufficiently. This means that while opportunities for global competitiveness are abundant, there are an overwhelming amount of job-seekers who are less than honest about their professional capabilities. And seeing that these facts aren’t properly checked, organisations are at high risk of financial and legal implications,” she explains.
Findings from Lex Mundi’s Emerging Africa Conference in Cape Town note that by 2040, Africa’s working age population will rise to 1,1-billion – greater than the working age populations of China and India combined.
With this in mind, Van der Merwe suggests that the drive for business, investment and employment within the continent is clearly justified. However, the risks associated with qualification and CV fraud means that businesses need to strongly consider implementing an international screening program.
“An international screening program ensures that all credentials are verified through relevant and accurate measures irrespective of that credential’s country of origin. This also includes various vetting services such as criminal record and credit history checks which, in addition to qualification verification, are in high demand across specific industries in Southern, East and West Africa specifically,” she says.
She adds that performing a background check on a candidate or employee with foreign work experience or qualifications is typically viewed as being far more complex than doing so locally.
“This is likely the major issue which has held businesses back from conducting such checks in the past. However, this simply cannot be the case moving forward.
“As globalisation continues to blur borders, international screening needs to become a priority and top vetting organisations have solutions and centralised teams in place to make it possible.
“Ultimately, to avoid taking a financial and reputational hit while exploring all Africa has to offer from a growth perspective, it is essential for businesses to know – and verify – their staff,” Van der Merwe concludes.