Sir Nigel Boardman, a retired Senior Partner at Slaughter and May, a leading London law firm, has called on multinational companies investing in Africa to adjust culturally to the norms and traditions of the people. He said multinational companies need to learn the history and culture of their host country and its people to enable them to adapt better.
Sir Boardman made the call when he delivered the 2nd Kojo Bentsi-Enchill Annual Memorial Lecture themed: “Investment in African Natural and Other Resources: What Should Governments and Investors Do to Ensure Success?” in Accra.
The lecture hosted by Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah was in honour of its late founding partner, Kojo Bentsi-Enchill. Kojo Bentsi-Enchill was a well-known legal practitioner and pioneer of digitization of law reports, journals, and other legal materials in Ghana. He founded Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah in 1988 with his law faculty colleague, Mr Divine Letsa, and led the firm to local and global prominence and recognition before he retired in 2020.
Sir Boardman said multinational companies should treat their workforce well, which would serve as the best advocate for its presence in the community.
“Multinational companies should behave as good citizens and perform the social function expected of them in their investing countries,” he added.
The Retired Senior Partner at Slaughter and May encouraged companies to recognise the legitimate interest of governments, because governments have the responsibility to oversee natural resources on behalf of its citizens.
“Investors should not be corrupt or be involved in corrupt activities, while trying to invest in the natural resources of any country,” he said. He said governments also needed to provide stability and certainty for multinational companies to invest, grow and develop their businesses. He said, an investment of a multinational company in a country was a collaboration between the investor and the local communities.
Sir Boardman said governments needed to balance long and short-term objectives as part of their decision making and also encourage growth and expansion of business and the markets.
“The government needs to have a team that looks at the legislative aspect of ease of doing business in future and this will make the country attractive to investors,” he added.
On the issue of procurement power of the government, Sir Boardman called on the authorities to encourage the use of AI technology in procurement processes for bidding contracts. He said governments should consider more procurement legislative development for the future and they also have the obligation to provide infrastructure development to encourage foreign investment.
Dr Sulemanu Koney, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, and a panellist at the lecture, said there was the need to look further than procurement in considering government policy. He said value enhancement, value addition and value creation should be considered in partnership with the mining industry.
Mr Benjamin Aryee, an advisor on Mining to the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, and a panellist as well, said the government and industry players have to understand that the sector needed partnerships and balancing of competing interests to grow and develop.
He said the mining sector could be a critical sector that could link more other sectors of the economy for growth. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to link the mining sector to other crucial sectors of the economy,” Mr Aryee said.