– By OSCAR N. ONYEMA OON, CEO
The Exchange continues to highlight the importance of sustainable business practices in delivering value to its listed companies, the investing public and to support African economic growth. Since the NSE launched the Premium Board, the growth of NSE Premium Index has demonstrated that incorporating high levels of corporate governance and sustainability at the core of a business are critical factors for delivering sustainable investor value.
We firmly believe that promoting transparent disclosures on environmental, social and governance issues can help listed companies access the long-term sustainable capital that will help them contribute their role as private sector organisations to achieving the sustainable development goals.
It is a journey that we are travelling as well. In 2013, we developed a sustainability strategy that was anchored on the four pillars of Marketplace, Workplace, Community and Environment. These pillars allows us to embrace sustainability principles in our operations, internalize the values as employees, and influence our ecosystem whilst remaining a good corporate citizen. To further raise the bar, we joined the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative and the World Federation of Exchanges, two reputable organisations that fuel our aspiration of fostering the growth of long term sustainable finance.
In achieving this commitment, NSE had reached a number of milestones. We launched the first Climate Bond Initiative certified Sovereign Green Bond. Developed a savings bond that promotes inclusiveness in the bonds asset class. Earlier this year, we released the NSE Sustainability Disclosure Guidelines which is mandatory for Premium Board listed companies. Further to the issuance of these Guidelines, we hosted a Sustainability Reporting Implementation Workshop in partnership with the Global Reporting Initiative. This was a way of helping listed companies understand the reporting requirements of the recently launched NSE Sustainability Disclosure Guidelines.
Today, is yet another historic day for sustainability in the capital market as we host the very first Facts Behind the Sustainability Report ( FBSR)which is fashioned after NSE’s flagship “Facts Behind the Listing” and “Facts Behind the Figures” event series. The Facts Behind the Sustainability Report is designed to provide the investing ecosystem with details of listed companies’ sustainability reports whilst allowing them to further engage with the listed companies.
We are pleased that Dangote Cement Plc has chosen to champion the maiden edition of the Facts Behind the Sustainability Report series both to launch and discuss highlights of their first ever stand-alone sustainability report. According to the Principles for Responsible Investment, the financial community is increasingly aware that ESG factors play a material role in determining risk and return. Therefore, this decision is timely and strategic to the growth of the capital market as more stakeholders are now aware that the promotion and disclosures of Environmental, Social and Governance principles can facilitate more meaningful engagement between investors and listed companies.
We commend the Board and Executive Management of Dangote Cement Plc for their leadership in integrating sustainability into the core of their business operations. Dangote Cement Plc is setting a strong precedence by their presentation today. I have been gladly informed that their report is compliant with the NSE Disclosure Guidelines and Global Reporting Initiative.
The Exchange recognizes that Issuers are at varying levels in their sustainability reporting journey. We will continue to support our listed companies to help them actualize their sustainability reporting goals. We continue to position ourselves as the African Exchange of choice for African issuers and global investors by implementing far-reaching transformational policies aimed at strengthening the corporate governance of our listed companies, providing products that are aligned to investors’ requirements whilst also ensuring a fair and orderly market.
As part of our continued effort to deliver a world class market infrastructure, we have launched a market surveillance platform – SMARTS that uses Artificial Intelligence to proactively monitor transactions in our market to prevent market abuses. We also have a whistle blowing portal where the investing public can drop us anonymous tips on any market infractions. We have instituted an Investors’ Protection Fund to compensate investors who have lost money due to inactions of our dealing members. Our X-Academy was conceptualised to complement efforts on financial literacy and capacity building in the capital market.
With the fast-changing macroeconomic environment in Nigeria and globally, we encourage Dangote Cement Plc to continue in its stride to incorporate sustainability by adhering to high standards of corporate governance, deepening its social impact, exceeding regulatory compliance, and delivering greater returns for shareholders.
Once again, I thank you the invited guests for your presence today
Oscar N. Onyema OON, CEO NSE speech at the Facts Behind the Sustainability Report presentation of Dangote Group on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at The Stock Exchange Marina – Lagos