Africa is facing many challenges in its social and economic development. Companies in all industries are increasingly evaluated in terms of how they contribute to this development. The concept of corporate governance has evolved beyond a company's responsibilities to its shareholders to include its responsibilities to a broader range of stakeholders. Issues of corporate governance and responsibility are of growing importance to oil companies operating in Africa. Government expectations of the industry's contribution to domestic economic development are expanding. Stakeholders are holding the industry to increasing standards of social responsibility.
These issues are exemplified in Angola, where the government asked ChevronTexaco, as the country's largest investor, to contribute to the reconstruction of the country after 27 years of civil war. The company recognized the importance of taking an active role in assisting Angola in such a critical juncture in the country's history. So in 2002, ChevronTexaco formed its Angola Partnership Initiative to work with international donors and non-government organizations to facilitate reconstruction and development throughout Angola. This initiative heralded a shift in the company's thinking about where and how it could contribute to the social and economic development of a country beyond its immediate area of operations.
The Angola Partnership Initiative helped ChevronTexaco to broaden its understanding of what it can achieve as an agent of positive social and economic change. The company has now linked this initiative with its existing programs to assist local communities and promote local content in its supply chain management. This maximizes the synergies between the efforts of the company and its partners and provides an overall framework in which it can plan, implement and report on its efforts to demonstrate corporate governance and responsibility in Angola.
It has been a long held belief by many people that corporations are only responsible to their shareholders as long as they operate within the limits of the law. All other sense of corporate responsibility has been seen as a reputation issue in which public perceptions could be shaped through carefully crafted communication strategies. Over the last several years however, society's expectations of how corporations should be governed and what role they should play in contributing to social welfare have increased to a stronger set of expectations as a result of high-profile corporate scandals, tightening regulatory environments and everincreasing advocacy efforts on the part of non-government organizations (NGOs).
These increased expectations vary amongst industries and across regions. The high profile of the petroleum industry and the widespread dependency on its products focuses considerable attention on petroleum companies and the impacts they have on society in general. In Africa, this attention tends to concentrate on the role each company plays in terms of the many development challenges faced within the continent. The concept that companies can successfully operate in the midst of widespread poverty and poor standards of public health and education promotes the expectation that companies should apply a portion of their profits to assist developing countries in Africa to meet these challenges.