Markets in Africa have laid strong governance groundwork but there are still challenges ahead
The corporate governance landscape of any country or market is uniquely rooted in its specific political, legal, economic, social and cultural environment.
The resulting variety in regulatory frameworks can pose a challenge to companies and investors, particularly when it comes to making economic decisions.
ACCA and KPMG looked at 15 markets across Africa, to examine local corporate governance requirements for listed companies, and compared these chiefly against the 2015 OECD Principles of Corporate Governance benchmark.
Broad alignment with best practice
Since 1999, the OECD Principles have been a driving force in raising the standard of corporate governance globally and Africa has been no exception.
10 out of 15 countries have frameworks in place that align with 80% or more of the 2015 OECD Principles and most legally mandate basic corporate governance requirements such as financial disclosure, shareholders’ rights and the role of the board, supplementing these with non-mandatory guidelines for good practice.
Strengths and weaknesses
African codes surpass many other well-established codes for corporate social responsibility and sustainability reporting.
Frameworks include a broader definition of stakeholders that includes the environment and society, and many mention wider social issues such as human rights, child labour, AIDS and malaria.
However, in the areas of core corporate governance elements e.g. performance evaluation, risk governance, remuneration structures and board diversity, there is room for improvement.
Achieving the right balance
Several markets have moved ahead of OECD Principles but the release of the 2015 Principles and the need to encourage direct investment may call for regulators and policy makers to reassess their codes and revise their frameworks where necessary.
Striking the right balance between rules and flexibility will differ from country to country but will be of fundamental importance for those where corporate governance is critical to support robust economic growth.