The first-ever study of female board membership in Africa

Nigeria’s name was missing in the list of countries with high number of women board membership in the banks. The first-ever study of female board membership in Africa, which was unveiled during the World Economic Forum Africa, by the African Development Bank (AfDB), titled: “Where are the Women? Inclusive Boardrooms in Africa’s Top-listed Companies,” which measured 2013 data for 307 companies in 12 countries, showed that African countries with the highest percentage of women on boards include Kenya (19.8 per cent), South Africa (17.4 per cent), Botswana (16.9 per cent), Zambia (16.9 per cent) and Ghana (17.7 per cent).

According to Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Special Envoy on Gender, African Development Bank (AfDB), said Africa has a long way to travel to ensure that its strong economic growth includes its most talented women at the top, according to. “To break the glass ceiling in Africa, we urgently need to bring women on corporate boards, which we can do by fast-tracking them through middle and senior management in the private sector,” Fraser-Moleketi, said, adding that “we need to think and act differently and invest markedly in women’s leadership.”

The report placed Africa third behind the developed regions of Europe (18 per cent) and the US (16.9 per cent). It said that Africa has a commanding lead among emerging regions with 14. 4 per cent of women represented on the boards of blue-chip companies (Asia-Pacific 9.8 per cent, Latin America 5.6 per cent, the Middle East one per cent).

The companies with the highest percentage of women’s board membership in 2014were East Africa Breweries of Kenya (45.5 per cent), followed by two South African firms, Impala Platinum Holdings (38.5 per cent) and Woolworths Holdings (30.8 per cent).

The report also contained a list of recommendations for governments, civil society, the private sector, and African stock exchanges on how to increase female board membership. The recommendation includes baseline research on female board membership to track progress and setbacks, mandated public reporting by listed companies of board composition and board diversity as a listing requirement, and mandates for female board membership, starting with state-owned companies.

The AfDB said it was the first multilateral bank to appoint a Special Envoy on Gender in 2013, Fraser-Moleketi. The board study figures into the bank’s five-year Gender Strategy, which focuses on economic empowerment, knowledge management and capacity building, and legal status and property rights.

By Dike Onwuamaeze

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By Dike Onwuamaeze

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