Senior Governance Specialist, World Bank Group
Convener, Africa Integrated Reporting Council
The implementation of integrated thinking and reporting reform is gaining momentum in Africa. Indeed, the train has left the station. The reform is increasingly shifting the thinking of Boards to mindfully incorporate the three elements of sustainable development - society, environment, and the economy - into their strategies and operations. Organizations are progressively focusing on creating optimal long-term value from the enormous resources in Africa for the benefit of all Africans, while also considering their impact on the environment.
The reform is also supporting the creation of an ecosystem to enable organizations to prepare integrated reports that tell their story: that is, who they are, how they are creating value, and their long-term outlook. Such concise and engaging reports will help to further improve governance, accountability, and rebuild trust — especially during the coming post-COVID 19 pandemic period. This reform will be necessary to attract investors to Africa; and ultimately, to contribute to ending poverty and achieving the Africa Agenda 2063.
The adoption of the reform in Africa is being promoted and supported by the Africa Integrated Reporting Council (AIRC). Established in October 2017, it was created and supported by the World Bank and the Pan-African Federation of Accountants. The AIRC membership includes two representatives (the Chief Executive Officers of the Stock Exchange and Professional Accountancy Organization) each from the following countries: Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The AIRC is Chaired by Professor Mervyn King, the first Chair of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and now Chair Emeritus.
To achieve its objectives, the AIRC is currently implementing activities under the following three streams:
These activities have resulted in a growing interest, commitment and drive to understand, promote and champion the reform in African countries. Some notable achievements include the voluntary adoption of the reform by some organizations; the inclusion of the reform in qualifications and business school programs in some countries; Stock Exchanges mandating sustainability reporting; and the increased promotion and discussions about integrated reports, among others. Organizations implementing the reform have reported and shared early benefits.
The AIRC is looking to continue to accelerate the momentum and increase the speed of the train. Thus, it is focusing on developing more integrated thinking and reporting experts in Africa; supporting the establishment of national Integrated Reporting Committees; and continuing to promote the reform in Africa by hosting more knowledge sharing events. The AIRC has also benefited from the support of the IIRC, and it welcomes collaboration with other organizations to achieve its objectives, thereby contributing toward the implementation of this important reform on a global basis.