Although virtual AGMS are not well charted occurrences in the life of Ghanaian companies, our story begun in 2019, when Npontu together with Novelty partnered with MTN to organize its first partial virtual AGM for its shareholders.
Working together to provide the relevant technology, Npontu and Novelty enabled the shareholders of the largest telecommunication company in Ghana:MTN to participate in their 2019 AGM either onsite or virtually.
Whilst this did not trigger any need for companies to explore the virtual option for organizing their AGMs, the situation with Covid19 made this step an absolute necessity if companies were to live up to their statutory obligations to their shareholders.
Indeed, to quote the President of the land, “these are extraordinary times” discussions on the options available to companies concluded when the Registrar of Companies in Ghana (RGD) announced that companies should explore virtual options for their AGMs in keeping with the social precautions against covid-19.
In line with this, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued its guidelines on holding of electronic or virtual annual general meetings by issuers and other capital market operators
The challenge was thrown and, on the 28th May 2020, Npontu and Novelty had the pleasure of assisting Access Bank PLC to be the first Company to take up this challenge.
The use of digital technology to facilitate the live streaming of the AGM and to enable participation and voting by all shareholders was to be done in accordance with the guidelines issued by SEC which states that in organizing the fully virtual AGM:
1. There is to be the congregation of only the relevant stakeholders (chairman, Board members, company secretary, sign language interpreter for the hearing impaired) in a venue from where there will be video streaming.
2. A virtual venue, that can accommodate large numbers, where all shareholders can video stream and actively participate asking questions where necessary.
3. Security and authentication of shareholders using unique ID’s.
4. A platform compatible with IOS, android, or web based where members can vote in real time using their devices.
Npontu and Novelty are proud to have worked with the dynamic team from Access Bank PLC to turn a possible sad situation created by covid-19 into a wonderful success for technology.
Together, we have successfully organized the first ever fully virtual AGM in Ghana with support from the various stakeholders including SEC and the Ghana Stock Exchange and Central Securities Depository (CSD).
Beyond Covid-19, its challenges and ensuing opportunities, SEC has outlined that the guidelines provided may be integrated to face to face meetings to produce hybrid annual general meetings, which may be necessary in the future, as they will provide shareholders the convenience of deciding whether to attend an Annual General meeting physically or from the comfort of their homes.
We dare say that, virtual AGMs have come to stay and the achievement of this feat by MTN in 2019 and then by Access bank in 2020, powered by technology from Npontu Technologies and Novelty Innovations shows that relevant technology and innovation is the key to achieving exploits hitherto not considered.
We look forward to working with many more companies in doing same.