Multinational companies investing in Africa, have been urged to adjust culturally to the norms and traditions of the resource-richcountries and host communities, not vice versa, stressed Sir Nigel Boardman, a retired Senior Partner at Slaughter and May(S&M), a lead London-based law firm.
According to him, the onus lies on a multinational companyseeking to invest in the resources of a community for profit to learn the history and culture of the host community and its people to enable them to adapt better and not impose theirforeign culture on the people.
“Multinational companies should behave as good citizens and perform the social function expected of them in their investing countries,” he added.
He further emphasised the need for multinational companies totreat the local workforce well, urging the government to also ensure Strict labour laws that protect the workforce. Noting that it is in the best interest of investors to treat the factory hand well as that would serve as the best advocate for its presence in the communities.
Sir Boardman made this call in his lecture at the second edition of the Kojo Bentsi-Enchill Annual Memorial Lecture, held in Accra under the theme: “Investment in African Natural and Other Resources: What Should Governments and Investors Do to Ensure Success?
The lecture hosted by Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah was in honour of its late founding partner, Kojo Bentsi-Enchill, who was a well–known legal practitioner and pioneer of digitization of law reports, journals, and other legal materials in Ghana.
He founded the law firm in 1988 with his law faculty colleague,Divine Letsa, and led the firm to local and global prominence and recognition before he retired in 2020.
The retired senior partner at S&M encouraged companies to recognise the legitimate interest of governments because the state has the responsibility to oversee natural resources on behalf of its citizens.
“Investors should not be corrupt or be involved in corruptactivities 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. Additionally, he mentioned that the investment of a multinational company in a country should be seen as a collaboration between the investor and the local communities.
“The government needs to have a team that looks at the legislative aspect of ease of doing business in the future and this will make the country attractive to investors,” he added.
On the issue of the procurement power of the government, Sir Boardman called on the authorities to encourage the use ofartificial intelligence (AI) technology in procurement processes for bidding contracts.
Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Chamber of Mines, Dr.Sulemanu Koney, on his part, mentioned that there was a 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.
Advisor on Mining to the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Benjamin Aryee, said the government and industry players have to understand that the sector needs partnerships and balancing of competing interests to grow and develop.
He said the mining sector could be a critical sector that could link 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.