Dr. Benedict Oramah, President, Afreximbank (right) in handshake with Marco Francis, Chairman, Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, after signing of MOU.
Bankers, financial regulators, financial institutions, and corporate entities from some 30 African countries have called for the institution of strengthened customer due diligence and corporate governance practices across the continent in order to enhance access to capital and investment for economic development and growth.
In a communiqué issued on 30 October at the end of a two-day forum on customer due diligence and corporate governance organised in Mahe, Seychelles, by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Central Bank of Seychelles, the participants said that such practices must be based on accepted international standards and best practices in order to be effective.
They commended the steps taken by Afreximbank toward the establishment of an African Due Diligence Repository Platform (ACDIRP) and stressed the need to engage African as well as global financial institutions and regulators in the implementation of the platform.
On corporate governance, the participants welcomed the progress made by the continent in instituting necessary standards for good governance and urged African corporate entities to strive to abide by global standards and requested Afreximbank to champion those standards by working with relevant African institutions and governments.
The participants also recommended the training of members of boards of directors of African entities on good corporate governance; the implementation of effective policy and governance structures in such entities; and the taking of steps to ensure inter-generational representation and gender diversity in board memberships.
A highlight of this year’s forum was the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Afreximbank and the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry by which the Chamber became the first entity to formally join ACDIRP. Dr. Benedict Oramah, President, of Afreximbank, and Marco Francis, Chairman, Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry, signed on behalf of their respective institutions.
The decision to establish the repository was taken during the first edition of the Afreximbank Annual Forum on Customer Due Diligence and Corporate Governance held in Dakar from 28 to 29 October 2014.
Under the terms of the MOU, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry was not only allowed to participate in the repository, but also earned the right to partner with Afreximbank in developing relationships, expertise and activities, and in promoting contacts and exchange of information on customer due diligence/know your customer issues.
ACDIRP was launched to serve as a centralized single source of primary data required to conduct customer due diligence checks on African counterparties. It is expected to facilitate onboarding of customers and business relationships by financial institutions and corporate entities while reducing the operational workload and cost of customer due diligence processes across Africa. Its ultimate target is to reduce the perceived risk of trading with African entities.
The Afreximbank Second Annual Forum on Customer Due Diligence and Corporate Governance was attended by more than 200 participants from Africa and beyond and featured expert presentations and panel and open discussions on customer due diligence and corporate governance challenges faced by African institutions. Subjects covered include: Architecture of African customer due diligence; illicit financial flows and capital flight; terrorism and illicit trafficking; corruption and public governance; corporate governance in Africa; emerging corporate governance best practices in Africa; and approach to improving corporate governance in Africa.
Manal Mounir Hendy