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Following centuries of institutional colonization, Africa remains in dire need of development and has failed to realize its potential to drive sustainable economic growth and prosperity. Despite the residual contribution of Africa’s colonial legacy to this malaise, it is suggested that African states should stop blaming coloniality for their failure to develop and accept responsibility for their own socioeconomic development. To arrest the downward spiral and provide the platform necessary to drive sustainable development across the African continent, the African Union launched Agenda 2063. To claim its rightful place in the global economy with a renewed focus on accountability, African states must change their development trajectory and address the economic, environmental, social, and governance interests of their legitimate stakeholders as they strive for sustainable development and their beneficiaries with added value. African states can no longer afford to remain passive participants in the process, providing raw materials for beneficiation by the Global North. The findings of this paper are based on the assertion that effectively governed state-owned entities (SOEs) represent vehicles available to states to leverage their drive for socioeconomic development in their respective countries, thereby contributing to achieving the Agenda 2063 goals. Despite relying on quantitative data to inform a corporate governance conformance matrix, purposively developed from the OECD Guidelines, World Bank Toolkit, and Agenda 2063, the study adopts an interpretative approach to thematically analyze the content of the published annual reports of South African SOEs. While the relatively high conformance scores achieved by the South African SOEs appear to suggest conformance with strong corporate governance practices. It belies the fact that several of these highly compliant SOEs are currently under investigation in relation to numerous instances of serious fraud and corruption. The incongruence of these public disclosures with the de facto situation implies that they do not represent a meaningful attempt by SOEs to discharge their governance obligations effectively. Instead, they may simply be an attempt to placate stakeholders that these SOEs were being effectively governed rather than to account to stakeholders meaningfully. The study concludes that merely imposing a regulatory, corporate governance framework will not be sufficient to ensure the effectiveness of governance in SOEs, but rather that effective processes must be established to monitor and enforce compliance with these frameworks, together with effective consequence management for non-compliance.
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