Good corporate governance key to develop reputable image for financial services in Africa
To promote robust corporate governance in Africa, an agreement was signed between the African Corporate Governance Network and African Securities Exchanges Association, with such initiatives expected to boost the image that the world has of Africa and create more confidence in investors for Africa.
An agreement over developing good corporate governance practices in Africa was signed by the African Corporate Governance Network (ACGN), a network working in favour of corporate governance in Africa and the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA), a body that groups 24 stock-exchanges on the continent.
The agreement was signed by Jane Valls, CEO of the Mauritius Institute of Directors (MIoD) and president of the African Corporate Governance Network, and Oscar Onyema, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchanges and president of the ASEA.
The signature was done during a three-day meeting of the executive committee of the ACGN in Lagos, Nigeria.
Jane Valls explained how good corporate governance can boost the image which the world has of Africa.
“The agreement with ASEA will allow us to focus on companies quoted on the stock exchange, because these have an important position in the diverse markets of the African continent. We are going to work on the training, education and research issues concerning directors. Corporate Governance in Africa is a key element to create confidence in investors and raise the reputation of the financial services sector,” she stated.
During the meeting, the members of the ACGN also revised their objectives, which included an important study sponsored by Ernst and Young on the state of good corporate governance in fifteen of the sixteen member countries of the ACGN.
The network also plans to study payments for business facilitation to understand the impact of this practice.
“The law still makes no distinction between bribes and payments for business facilitation – the UK Bribery Act classifies however payments for business facilitation as being illegal in the same way as bribes. These payments are generally made to accelerate a process, such as obtaining a licence or a service. We want to understand the scale of this activity in Africa and to examine measures which must be taken, because this practice can be an obstacle to the transparency and the equity in the business world,” explains Jane Valls.
The meeting of the ACGN also included a Business Forum conducted by Professor Deon Rossouw, CEO of Ethics Institute of South Africa, on the theme of Governing Ethics, and a workshop on the evaluation of boards of directors conducted by Financial Institutions Training of Nigeria. The network also welcomed a new affiliated member, the Society for Corporate Governance in Nigeria.
Besides Mauritius, the meeting of the ACGN also got together the CEOs of the Institutes of Directors across Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Also present at this meeting was Baronne Lynda Chalker, president of Africa Matters, a British firm of repute providing strategic support for the investors in Africa.
The ACGN also saw the participation of the International Finance Corporation, ACCA, ICSA Nigeria, and Center for International Private Enterprise and NEPAD business Foundation.
It is to be noted that the African Corporate Governance Network is made up of Institutes of Directors and similar organizations working towards corporate governance and ethics in Africa.
Finally, ACGN is present in 16 African countries and represents more than 16,000 directors and high executives of the continent. The ACGN was officially launched in Mauritius in October, 2013 so African countries can collectively promote good corporate governance.