Board of Directors of corporate organisations and Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa must operate on the foundations of intellectual honesty to accelerate the growth of their organisations, a corporate governance expert, Professor Mervyn King has said.
According to him, members of Board of Directors of business organisations in the region must apply their professional knowledge for the benefit of the organisations they serve and not for their personal financial gains.
Prof. King, the Ambassador of the African Corporate Governance Network (ACGN), said this in Accra on Friday, when he delivered the keynote address at the Institute of Directors Ghana (IoD-Gh) international conference on corporate governance.
The programme being attended by participants from Kenya, Nigeria and others across the world was on the theme “Optimising the growth of SMEs whiles Globalising Big Corporates: The role of good corporate governance.”
It was organised by the IoD-Gh in partnership with ACGN, and International Finance Corporation (IFC) to discuss ways to promote good corporate governance practice in Africa.
Prof. King, who is also a senior counsel and former Judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa said members of boards must practice good ethical behaviour and avoid acts which could collapse the organisations they lead.
“Members of Board of Directors of corporate organisations and SMEs must operate on the foundations of intellectual honesty and strive to achieve good outcomes for their organisations,” he said.
Prof. King entreated board members to avoid greed, fear, pride and arrogance, which he described as ‘corporate sins,’ and must practise qualitative and not quantitative governance alone.
“Members of Board of Directors must examine whether their dreams are in the long term in the interest of the company,” he said.
Prof. King entreated corporate bodies in Africa to invest massively in Information Communication Technology to promote their businesses and also install strong firewall to prevent their systems from hackers and cyber attacks.
He said apart from climate change, cyber attacks were the second most serious risk businesses faced in the 21st century.
The President of IoD-Gh, Rockson K. Dogbegah, in an interview called for legislation to regulate the appointment of Board of Directors in the country.
The, law among others, should stipulate that people who were appointed Board of Directors of organisations, especially public ones, must have training in good corporate governance.
He said the conference would discuss measures to promote good corporate governance in Africa to stimulate the growth of businesses in the region.
A member of the ACGN, Meshack Joram, in a goodwill message urged members of boards to pursue good corporate governance to promote the growth of businesses they serve.
He said development gap between Africa and the developed economies was due to bad corporate governance.
The Corporate Governance Advisory West Africa and Maghreb, Moez Miaoui, IFC lauded the IoD-Gh for the theme of the programme, stressing that SMEs were the key drivers of growth.
He said the IFC had revised its strategy to focus on SMEs, stressing that the key pillar of the new strategy, among others, was hinged on capacity building and access to finance for SMEs.
By Kingsley Asare