The final phase of the integration of key stock exchanges across the West African region to facilitate cross-border listing and region-wide securities trading is likely to take off this year, Mr Ekow Afedzie, Managing Director of the Ghana Stock Exchange, has said.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the maiden World Bank Group J-CAP conference on Capital Markets in Abidjan, Mr Afedzie said the integration of the stock markets in West Africa was on course.
"So, we are in the second phase where we have the West African Regulators Association approving the documents and the rules. Now we are seeking ECOWAS recognition for what is being done so that it can bind all of us together. That is the stage we are now. Then we can move to the implementation stage this year," he said.
The initiative, which is being developed by the West African Capital Markets Integration Council (WACMIC), will integrate the capital markets with member exchanges including the Nigeria Stock Exchange, the Ghana Stock Exchange, and the Bourse Regionale de Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM), which serves eight francophone West African countries, and Cape Verde.
He said the first phase of the three-prong integration agenda, which is the sponsored access for stockbroking, had been completed.
"The second phase which is the qualifying broker qualification is what is key to us. At that level we harmonize all our rules both for listing, Initial Public Offerings, and claims settlement in order to be able to allow brokers, who qualify by meeting certain requirements to be able to trade across the region," Mr Afedzie said.
The third phase, which is the implementation stage, involves linking members' exchanges to a virtual West African securities market.
Qualified West African brokers will then be able to access the listed securities and market information in the region to allow them to execute transactions, while issuers will be able to raise capital across the region too.
"So, if you are a broker in Nigeria and you meet the requirements and you are given the recognition you can trade across," Mr Afedzie added.
Touching on the J-CAP conference, Mr Afedzie said it offered useful insight into how countries could leverage capital markets to spur growth and economic development.
He said the conference provided enough ingredients that would make capital markets successful, especially in dealing with the cultural factors, which prevent many entrepreneurs from going public with their business to allow others to join in.
There was also a lesson on encouraging small and medium enterprises to issue bonds to spur growth, especially for entrepreneurs unwilling to share their businesses with others.
"So, overall it is a useful programme, where they look at all facets of the capital market and everything that we can do for the markets to grow," Mr Afedzie added.
On his part, Dr Adu Anane Antwi, a former Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said a great lesson from the conference was the call on the Stock Exchanges to encourage domestic investments as they cannot always relied on foreign investors.
The two-day capital markets conference held on the theme: 'Capital Markets: Investing for Growth' is focused on the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), which is made up of eight countries.
Government and industry leaders from across five different continents participated in the conference to discuss the most important trends, challenges, and opportunities for WAEMU's capital markets.
The World Bank and IFC launched the Joint Capital Markets program ("J-CAP") initiative in mid-2017 to affirm their commitment to the development of local capital markets.
The programme mobilizes experts across the World Bank Group to unlock synergies and create systemic impact in funding strategic sectors of the economy.
J-CAP is initially focused on six target countries—Bangladesh, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, Vietnam, Indonesia —as well as the region of the West African Economic & Monetary Union.