Editorial: judges revealed for CFO Awards, governance improving in Africa

I am a little bit biased, but for me the biggest CFO news this week was the fact that several members of the panel of judges for this year’s CFO Awards have committed themselves to adjudicate the 2015 CFO Awards as well. As of today, we have been able to confirm the involvement of top CEOs Asher Bohbot (EOH), Victor Sekese (SizweNtsalubaGobodo), Jonathan Lang (Bowman Gilfillan Africa), Delphine Maïdou (Allianz GCS Africa), Claudelle von Eck (The Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa) and Rob Otty (Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa). Prof. Ben Marx (University of Johannesburg) is also on the team again.

To read exclusive CFO South Africa interviews with these industry leaders, please click on their names above! We are also delighted that the principal sponsor for the CFO Awards is KPMG, after they signed a landmark collaboration deal with CFO South Africa for the year 2015. Read: KPMG throws its weight behind CFO South Africa.

And while I am on must-read articles on our website: the recently published Expert Insight analysis by Prof. Alex Watson (UCT) on the upcoming CA examination changes is our best read guest contribution to date. Here's a link: CA examination changes good or bad news?

Meanwhile, the international press is also starting to notice that the level of accounting and governance in African countries is coming along nicely, something CFOs here already know of course! This week the Wall Street Journal's Kimberly S. Johnson wrote an article with the headline 'Africa Makes Strides in Corporate Accounting, Governance', concluding that "political and economic stability in countries like Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda have had a halo effect on the region". The author also notes that more companies have adopted IFRS standards in the past 5 years.

Johnson does note that "the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and a recent military takeover in Burkina Faso may make some potential investors skittish". However, I don't believe this is true. While ignorant American and Asian tourists might be canceling their Kenyan or South African safaris - even though Ebola is 1000s of kilometres away from the game parks - investors are a bit more clued up and base their decisions on solid data and entrepreneurial insight.

Closer to home, CFOs are obviously awaiting the Reserve Bank's take on the repo rate, but the general feeling seems to be that the committee - which for the first time includes Lesetja Kganyago as the new bank governor - will leave the rate unchanged at 5.75% tomorrow. In recent speeches Kganyago has emphasised the need to "normalize" interest rates.

Internationally, a number of CFO appointments were particularly interesting. Mining company Barrick Gold appointed South African-educated Shaun Usmar as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Designate. Usmar previously worked as CFO of the world's largest ferro-chrome producer Xstrata Alloys in South Africa. Mineral exploration company Anglo-African Minerals, which focusses on West Africa, appointed Martyn Knight as CFO. Elsewhere, IT major Infosys fired Abraham Mathews, CFO of its BPO subsidiary, for failing to comply with its "code of conduct".

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