Akintola Williams: A portrait of integrity, professionalism

One of the professionals in Africa who has distinguished himself, not only as a seasoned administrator, dynamic entrepreneur, and an accomplished businessman but also demonstrated a high standard of professionalism in both financial and business fields, is Chief Akintola Williams – the first chartered accountant and accomplished financial expert in Africa.

Mr. Williams was born in Lagos in 1919 to the family of Thomas Ekundayo Williams. He attended CMS Grammar School, Lagos – the first and the best secondary school in Nigeria after his primary school education at Olowogbowo Methodist Primary School, Lagos.

As a brilliant student, Williams completed his secondary school education at CMS Grammar School in 1938 and thereafter attended the Yaba Higher College, Lagos, where he obtained a Diploma in Commerce. In 1944, he proceeded to the University of London, England where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree (majoring in Banking and Finance) in 1946.

As a man of focus, he continued his studies and qualified as a chartered accountant in England in 1949. Indeed, with this feat, Williams became the first African to qualify as a chartered accountant and became a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in 1949.

After returning to Nigeria in 1950, Williams served with the Inland Revenue, as an assessment officer until March 1952, when he left the civil service and founded Akintola Williams and Co. in Lagos. As an entrepreneur and financial expert, his firm became the first indigenous chartered accounting firm in Africa – at the time the accountancy business was dominated by five large foreign firms. But Williams, as a man with the capability to translate vision into reality, started gaining business from indigenous companies including the Ojukwu Transport Company, K.O. Mbadiwe’s African Insurance Company, Nnamdi Azikiwe’s West African Pilot, Fawehinmi Furniture, to mention but a few.

Also, he provided services to the new state-owned corporations including the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, the Western Nigeria Development Corporation, the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation, the Nigerian Railway Corporation, and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). As a man of vision and focus, Williams expanded his services abroad through the help of his local and foreign partners. In 1964, a branch was established in Cameroon, followed by branches in Cote D’Ivoire and Swaziland while affiliates were opened in Ghana, Egypt, Kenya, and other African countries.

It is worthy of note to state that by March 1992, the company had grown to become the first and biggest indigenous accounting firm in Africa with 19 partners and 535 workers. In 1983, Williams – a man who is always interested in the advancement of accountancy in Nigeria, in particular, and Africa in general, spearheaded the establishment of the Association of Accountants in Nigeria (AAN) in 1960 with the sole aim of training accountants within the country.

In 1965, Williams became one of the founding members and the first President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) – a leading Institute in Africa today. Also, as a catalyst of economic development and agent of positive change, Williams championed the establishment of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in 1960, a market that he is actively involved in till date as an adviser to the operators.


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