Council to meet on capital market integration next month

Business News of Monday, 9 February 2015

Source: B&FT

Accra Stock Exchange

The council responsible for facilitating the integration of capital markets in West Africa is scheduled to meet in March to ascertain the progress of partnership arrangements among member-states.

The Integration Council of the member-countries — made up of Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BVRM), which features eight Francophone countries — last year gave the approval for brokers in member-countries to start drawing up partnership agreements that will enable them to trade across markets.

Adu Anane Antwi, Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission said: “We will be having our next meeting in March to see where we have reached. We have asked people to sign agreements among themselves to trade through their friends in other markets. We will want to know how far it is going.

“It is now left with the operators to come up with those arrangement, so that if you are in Ghana and you have an arrangement with a Nigerian stockbroker you can place your orders through the Nigerian stockbroker to buy securities for your clients in Ghana and vice versa.”

Integration of capital markets in the sub-region is crucial for raising funds to finance infrastructure. This is mainly due to the inability of governments to finance growing infrastructural requirements in the sub-region — mainly in the areas of transport, housing, and power– from their over-stretched budgets.

Conservative estimates indicate that the country’s huge infrastructure deficit requires sustained spending of at least US$1.5billion per annum over the next 10 years to address the shortfall.

To address these challenges, government proposed establishment of the Ghana Infrastructure Fund (GIF) to deal with the huge infrastructure deficit and to focus on strategic infrastructure that will lead to job-creation and increase growth of the economy.

President John Dramani Mahama appointed a nine-member board chaired by Mr. Ato Ahwoi to superintend the affairs of the GIIF.

Pressing projects that government seeks private investment for include construction of a dual Accra-Kumasi highway, the Cape Coast-Obuasi road, and Accra-Tema motorway.

Others include construction of an inland port at Boankra in the Ashanti Region, and regional airports in five more regions.

Ongoing public-private projects include the 40megawatt first-phase of what will eventually be 200megawatts of solar power capacity in the Northern Region. It is being undertaken by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) and DCH Solargiga, a subsidiary of China’s Solargiga.

The integration process is however fraught with many challenges. The level of technological differences among member-states and the absence of a common currency to facilitate trade are but a few.

Attempts by member-countries of the West Africa Monetary Zone (WAMZ) to create a second monetary union in the West African sub-region by 2015 have been hobbled by missed convergence criteria targets.

Mr. Antwi, has said that “the idea of one common currency is key. You can easily integrate your markets if you have a common currency. If I put ECO in my account and you are using the same ECO to pay the Nigerian seller, we don’t have a problem. These are issues that we need to work on, but that won’t stop us from integrating our West African capital markets.

“We will go ahead; settlements will be done, and the banks will help. We have to make sure that our currencies are able to be transferred across borders. There are already structures in place to help us do this.”

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