Capital markets urged to free boards

13 March 2018 | Business

Ndama Nakashole - ICG director and former RMB Namibia MD Steve Galloway says capital markets need to bring proper independence to companies’ boards.

Speaking on a panel discussion, titled ‘The Role of Capital Markets in Advancing Corporate Governance’, at the Africa Corporate Governance Conference held in Windhoek on Thursday and Friday, Galloway said corporate governance could best achieved if the appointment of the board of directors of a company was based on ethical levels and ability to take responsibility.

He said that for entities to win, or/and keep winning, when appointing the board of directors of a certain company, the appointing authority must go back to the basic principle of ethics and responsibility.

“We need to train our governors with that integrity to say that your actions have effects to the community, on the people. We need that kind of morality,” he said.

Galloway said he did not think international practises were the only solutions to achieving the best results in corporate governance in Africa.

He said there were different solutions, depending on different locations in the world.

Ubuntu

“Our solutions are more for African problems. I think the spirit of community, the spirit of ubuntu, is one that works well with our solutions to achieve best corporate governance solutions for the continent.”

He added that it was good to learn from others too, as “no region can do it alone”.

Standard Bank Namibia’s head of personal and business banking, Mercia Geises, said shareholders’ activism usually came from executive remuneration. “The activism is usually about aligning the interest of shareholders to those of the executives,” she said.

She added that it was usually in the interest of the company if shareholders let management be at the centre of decision-making, because sometimes when the certain shareholders’ goal/objective was achieved, he or she may not even be a shareholder anymore.

“Short-termism is a challenge. We need to have the company’s best interest at heart,” she said.

Alignment

Sitting on the same panel, the managing director of Nampro Fund, Kauna Ndilula, said she believed in a principle of aligning shareholders, directors and management towards the same objective.

She said some shareholders were financially illiterate while others were well informed. In most cases, these two might collude. She said it would only be in the interest of the company if a well-informed investor was brought in to be part of the shareholders of a certain institution.

AfDB

Another speaker at the conference was Namibia’s executive director at the African Development Bank, Mihe Gaomab, who spoke on the bank’s governance perspectives.

He said the bank treated governance as a cross-cutting issue on project approvals as an enabling developmental outcome.

“Through its due diligence on project evaluation, the bank is conscious of inclusive development involving youth and women, as well as diversity reflecting regional disparities of countries of which some are fragile states on the continent,” he said.

Gaomab added that the bank treated evolving innovative developments and disruptive digital technology as central to its mandate of powering and feeding Africa, industrialising and integrating the continent and improving the quality of life of Africans through service delivery.

He said the bank was cognisant of ethical business leadership by having a database of politically exposed persons when assessing its developmental effectiveness. Gaomab said the bank emphasised robust institutional accountability through its developmental outcomes.

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