Published On: October 30, 2021Categories: Governance, Investor Relations4.5 min read
Avatar photo
I specialise in online investor relations data and communications solutions for African listed companies of any size, helping companies set up & manage stakeholder & investor engagement systems through websites, email and mobile apps.

An old African proverb says one should ensure there’s enough firewood before cooking an elephant.

A similar metaphor is illustrated by companies trying to adopt progressive online practices in sub-Saharan African markets.

Companies need resources, motivation and skills

The publication of two earnings releases and an annual report and maybe an investor presentation handled by marketing executives simply describes the typical “investor relations” function in sub-Saharan African markets.

Just a handful of companies prepare transcripts or have public facing conference calls. No companies publish earnings releases on newswires and African stock exchanges websites (and their digital news dissemination practices) belong in digital museums.

Without progressive online IR practices being hard-coded in corporate governance codes, legislation or stock exchange rules, there’s little consequence to listed companies executives not adopting them.

As a result “brokers and investors are not analysing companies or companies are not getting their message through to investors sufficiently or both” says Christopher Hartland-Peel, an independent equities analyst.

“The continent of excess returns” is how he describes the African markets outside of South Africa.

He issues a monthly Top 30 sub-Saharan Africa Equities Valuation Report (outside South Africa – see the September 2021 report here). In March 2020, of the top 30 (by market capitalisation), 12 companies traded at Price to Book Value Ratios (PBRs) of less than one. An additional seven companies had PBRs in the one-to-two range. Out of 30.

Hartland-Peel’s unique 30-year database of African equities data and returns shows a systemic low correlation between earnings growth and share price performance.

A follow-on from March 2020: 85 sub-Saharan Africa companies that have reported earnings for the six months ended June 2021 which amounted to US$3.4bn, show earnings up 57% on H1 2020. Share prices are still very slow to respond.

Investor audiences are constantly left wanting more data, insight and context. Perceived risk aversion results, dampening markets.

Would it make any difference if progressive communications practices were adopted by listed companies?

How CEC uses digital media to create resilience

Copperbelt Energy Corporation plc (CEC), listed on the Lusaka Securities Exchange (with a market capitalisation of USD$176.5m* and annual liquidity of USD$2.9m* with 4,000+ shareholders) has a strong investment case with a long history in Zambia as a critical supplier of power to Zambian mines.


In 2016 CEC formalised its corporate communications content strategy around six integrated reporting pillars:-

CEC then consistently published approximately 1,000 social media and news/announcements posts per annum in aggregate, across social and digital channels every year until 2021.

Direct-to-investor outreach tactics are also used:

  • a mobile IR app (powered by SharesInside, the LSE approved vendor) publishes news, prices and announcements;
  • dividend news is disseminated by way of SMS and social media;
  • virtual AGM, e-voting and earnings presentations videos are published online with full transcripts. (CEC is the only Lusaka Securities Exchange-listed company publishing transcripts);
  • share price and valuation parameters are published to registrants by way of email alerts daily;
  • an RSS feed on the corporate website further distributes news;
  • CEC’s Twitter automatically publishes the share price daily; and a comprehensive website knowledge base tracks individual investor support tickets.

Professionally branded, strategic and varied in nature, CEC’s online investor relations content strategy has been rewarded by consistent growth in digital and social media communities (particularly LinkedIn).

With over 41,000 followers now (all from organic growth) CEC’s LinkedIn page is one of the largest in Zambia.

CEC’s digital followers currently exceed 90,000. This tribe has helped the company in its time of need.

During 2019/2020 the previous government of Zambia attempted to expropriate CEC’s power transmission and distribution infrastructure. In addition CEC had to provide for over US$150m of debt from its largest customers. In many vitriolic interactions between various digital communities.

CEC’s digital communities were seen openly defending the company’s reputation long before CEC had a chance to respond.

“CEC’s digital communities were seen openly defending the company’s reputation long before CEC had a chance to respond”

“Our shareholders and loyal communities have been a real asset for CEC,” says Chama Nsabika, Senior Manager Corporate Communication at CEC.

Having been through the wringer on other fronts in the past 4 years CEC’s broad digital presence has served as an arsenal of strong, consistent messaging about the strength of its investment thesis, management, people and brand.

Going forward with a strong balance sheet, a clearly understood business model and recovering earnings, CEC will communicate its investment case directly and seamlessly to local and international investment communities.

This community and engagement is an ESG-influenced enduring reputation risk management strategy: the firewood needed to cook up a fine recipe of online IR for African small caps.


The firewood every IR professional should never forget:

  • a good mix of strategic and ESG influenced IR content;
  • consistency in content publication;
  • a complete mix of media delivering the content; and
  • owning direct access to digital communities.

I recently had this article published in the Autumn 2021 edition of Informed Magazine (Investor Relations Society UK).

The IR Society UK’s investor relations insights and ESG research are great grounding for executives that care about learning more of the highest levels of communications governance. Join the IR Society UK here.

Sign up to The Digital Governance Newsletter and the AfricanFinancials Investor Relations Insights LinkedIn page to receive practical, actionable insights to elevate your online investor relations and communications governance.

Turnkey, communications solutions for every listed company in Africa

Speak to us about IR solutions for your company

Speak to us about IR solutions for your company

AfricanFinancials works with Boards, CEOs and companies who want to build sustainable businesses through better corporate and investor communications. Our focus is online investor relations to promote secure two-way communications with investors and stakeholders.