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Sustaining Positive Growth Trajectories of African Exchanges

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Africa

This conference, themed “Africa Evermore”, is an opportune time for us to engage with one another in open and constructive dialogue about our current operating environment, and how to go about closing the gaps in our journey to attain the full promise of Africa’s economic potential.

Compared to this year’s performance, growth in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to pick up in 2016 by 0.5 percentage points to 4.3 per cent according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook.  This growth is expected to be supported by moderate global recovery, and growth in low-income developing countries which compared to this year are projected to grow by one more percentage point to 5.8 per cent in 2016.  Africa’s positive outlook is just one of the many opportunities that if well harnessed could seriously position the continent for greater heights.

Our markets currently cover multiple asset classes from equities and bonds to ETFs and derivatives.  In 2015 year to date, African exchanges collectively have traded over $325.0 billion in equities, $1.2 trillion in bonds, and $438.0 billion in ETFs & Others, representing a market capitalization of over $1.3 trillion.  In terms of governance and ownership structure, several of our exchanges are demutualized, while others are in the process of demutualizing.  Today, our exchanges are becoming active players in the global exchange business, and the conference theme “Evermore” is about sustaining that growth position, and becoming a real platform for growth in the African economy.

The role of the capital market remains a critical one and I believe that it is time to ask the tough question of how we can sustain the positive growth trajectories of our performances as African exchanges, given the globalization of the securities business.  It is my strong belief that one of the things that Africa needs to sustain its growth, is a solid capital markets ecosystem that will attract investment and unlock the potential that exists on the continent.

How do we, as capital market businesses, operate and grow in a sustainable and socially responsible way?  What I would like this conference to deliver is a better understanding of: 1) how best to pursue social values, without losing sight of the traditional financial objectives of our businesses; and 2) the correlation between the health of our economies, and the value of our capital markets, bearing in mind peculiar strengths, that individually and collectively we could leverage as we press forward.

One of Africa’s greatest strengths is its population of 1.1 billion people, 200 million of whom are aged between 15 and 24, making Africa the continent with the youngest population in the world.  The current trend indicates that this figure will double by 2045.  Similarly, Africa’s middle class has tripled in size to 313 million people or roughly 30% of the population over the last 30 years, and it is projected that this figure will reach 1.1 billion by 2060.

We anticipate a positive shift in demand as a result of this statistic, and African exchanges are already positioning themselves to do a lot more to service the increasingly sophisticated needs of our growing middle class.  Our customers will be looking to sustain and grow their wealth, and will be looking to work with us in preparation for the transfer of that wealth.  Therefore I encourage all of us as capital market players to ramp up on our efforts, as we prepare ourselves to meet our clients at their points of need.

Furthermore, among the 23 nations that make up ASEA, we have a combined total of just-over 1,600 listed companies, this number is negligible compared to the actual number of successful companies operating on the continent, or the over 1.5 million businesses registered in Africa.  I propose we find new ways to engage with business leaders in order to communicate more clearly the vital role we play in facilitating long-term financing, mobilizing resources, and directing the flow of savings and investments efficiently within our economies.

An even more incredible potential, one which I am particularly passionate about is the exponential benefits that accrue from risk-sharing initiatives.  Internationally, integrated stock markets improve resource allocation and accelerate growth by facilitating liquidity.  Although profitable investments sometimes require long-run commitments to capital, savers prefer not to relinquish control of their savings, and preferably not for long periods of time.

This is where liquidity comes in to ease the investor’s tension.  It does this by providing investors with assets that are easily liquidated at any time, while simultaneously allowing firms permanent access to capital that is raised through equity issues.  In this regard, I believe that there is no better time than now to intensify our efforts in ongoing initiatives that foster the advancement of regional integration and cooperation.

These sub-regional integration efforts such as WACMI in West Africa, CoSSE in Southern Africa, and EAC in East Africa must be encouraged.  We must also begin to study how to effectively link the entire region.  Hence, the African Exchanges Linkage Project (AELP) which is a jointly owned mandate between ASEA and the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), is a step in the right direction.  It is aimed at addressing the lack of liquidity in African capital markets by creating linkages across key regional markets to reduce fragmentation and information asymmetry.

All of these efforts to deepen the continent’s markets will aid in pushing Africa’s economic transformation, and enhancing national competitiveness.  But we must be careful to never lose sight of the real objective of these initiatives, which is to stimulate opportunities for the investment community, and expose issuers to deeper pools of capital, and a wider community of analysts and investors pools.

Weak corporate governance is often found responsible for many of the corporate failures in Africa.  However, as securities exchanges, we operate powerful platforms through which we can influence and promote sustainable business practices.  Accordingly, we must increase our contribution and participation in developing our national codes of corporate governance, by setting strong listing and maintenance requirements, and ensuring adequate disclosure of listed companies’ corporate governance arrangements.

Africa is becoming known as the continent that leapfrogs traditional stages of growth or development.  We have seen this in the telecommunications industry where despite insurmountable challenges with communications infrastructure, the impact of mobile phone technology in Africa has been phenomenal, and is now revolutionizing many other sectors of our economy.  When it comes to mobile phone technology, Africans are doing great things and leapfrogging the West, ironically driven by a lack of infrastructure.

Mobile payment systems experienced phenomenal growth in Kenya because many Kenyans did not have bank accounts, but they had mobile phones.  Here in South Africa, the innovation of mobile commerce where you can order something on your phone and pick up from a locker is growing in popularity, and the driver for this is the limited number of physical malls.  As a result of poor infrastructure in the health space, Africans are yet again turning to mobile technology for health information on platforms such as Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA).

This trend is no different in how quickly the continent has embraced innovations in renewable sources of energy.  Between 2010-2012, Nigeria’s renewable power production posted the world’s fastest growth, at more than 15% a year, according the World Bank.  I therefore call on my colleagues in the capital market space to do no less in the capital market.  Let us be aware of our opportunities and tremendous capabilities and get involved in understanding what emerging technology can do for our sector, from blockchain technology to advancements in cyber security.

I have no doubt that the programme at this year’s conference will surely drive the level of engagement and idea generation that will solidify and strengthen our association’s strategic resolve.  But more importantly, I believe that the learnings from our interactions will elevate our business strategies to ride out the headwinds that our markets have experienced this year.  In the end, I sincerely hope that we are better positioned to unlock our continent’s growth potential, and empowered to advance the development of our capital markets.

Thank you for your attention and for your anticipated contributions to the dialog during this conference.  Once more, I welcome you all to the ASEA Conference 2015, and I wish us all fruitful deliberations.

•Oscar, President, African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) presented the speech at the associaton’s 19th annual conference in South Africa, last week.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Economy

Federal Government Halts Cooking Gas Export to Lower Local Prices

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cooking gas cylinder

In a bid to stabilize domestic prices and meet rising demand for cooking gas within Nigeria, the Federal Government has announced a temporary halt on the exportation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), commonly known as cooking gas.

This decision follows a significant surge in the cost of cooking gas, which has placed a strain on consumers across the country.

According to reports, the halt in LPG export aims to increase the availability of the commodity within Nigeria’s borders, thereby reducing its local price.

The move is part of broader efforts to address the challenges faced by consumers grappling with the high cost of living.

In recent years, the demand for cooking gas has steadily increased in Nigeria, driven by urbanization, population growth, and a shift towards cleaner energy sources.

However, despite being a major producer of LPG, Nigeria has struggled to meet its domestic demand due to insufficient local production and distribution infrastructure.

Data from the Nigerian Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority reveals that while the total consumption of cooking gas in Nigeria has been on the rise, the country has relied heavily on imports to bridge the supply gap.

The recent decision by the government underscores its commitment to prioritizing the domestic market and ensuring that Nigerians have access to affordable cooking gas.

Consumers have been grappling with escalating prices, with reports indicating a significant increase in the cost of refilling a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas in major cities like Abuja, Lagos, and Kano.

The decision to halt LPG exports signals a proactive measure by the government to mitigate the adverse effects of rising prices and alleviate the financial burden on households across the nation.

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Economy

Manufacturing Sector Records 7.70% Quarter-on-Quarter Growth in Q4 2023

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German manufacturing

In the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s manufacturing sector grew by 7.70% year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The surge in growth reflects a significant uptick from the preceding quarter and underscores the resilience of the manufacturing industry amid economic challenges.

This growth trajectory indicates positive momentum and signals potential opportunities for economic recovery and development.

The manufacturing sector, comprising thirteen key activities ranging from oil refining to motor vehicles and assembly, demonstrated notable dynamism across various subsectors.

This growth surge is attributed to increased production, enhanced operational efficiencies, and strategic investments across the manufacturing value chain.

Despite facing headwinds such as supply chain disruptions and regulatory uncertainties, the sector’s robust performance underscores its pivotal role in driving economic diversification, job creation, and industrialization efforts in Nigeria.

Moving forward, sustaining this growth momentum will require continued policy support, investment in infrastructure, and efforts to address key bottlenecks hindering the sector’s expansion.

By fostering an enabling business environment and promoting innovation and technology adoption, Nigeria’s manufacturing sector can further catalyze inclusive economic growth and contribute significantly to the nation’s development agenda.

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Economy

Nigeria’s GDP Grows by 3.46% in Q4 2023, Driven by Services

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Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.46% in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023 on the back of robust performance of the services sector, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The GDP expansion though slightly lower than the 3.52% recorded in the same period of 2022, reflects a positive trajectory for the Nigerian economy amid ongoing challenges.

The growth rate surpassed the 2.54% recorded in the preceding quarter, indicating a rebound in economic activity.

The services sector emerged as the key driver of growth expanding by 3.98% and contributing 56.55% to the overall GDP.

This sector’s resilience underscores its pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic landscape, encompassing diverse industries such as telecommunications, finance, and real estate.

Also, the agriculture sector experienced growth, expanding by 2.10% compared to the same period in 2022.

Meanwhile, the industry sector recorded a notable improvement, growing by 3.86%, a stark contrast to the -0.94% contraction observed in the fourth quarter of 2022.

On an annual basis, Nigeria’s GDP expanded by 2.74% in 2023 compared to 3.10% in the previous year, reflecting sustained but moderated growth.

The positive trajectory in GDP growth reflects resilience in the face of various economic challenges.

However, sustaining and accelerating growth will require continued efforts to address structural bottlenecks, foster investment, and promote inclusive economic policies across sectors.

Nigeria’s Oil Sector Growth

During the fourth quarter of 2023, Nigeria’s oil sector posted a real growth rate of 12.11% year-on-year, signifying a significant improvement from previous periods.

This was driven by the surge in average daily oil production to 1.55 million barrels per day (mbpd), a positive shift in the sector’s performance.

Despite challenges such as global market fluctuations and production constraints, the oil sector contributed 4.70% to the nation’s total real GDP in Q4 2023.

Nigeria’s Non-Oil Sector

Nigeria’s non-oil sector sustained growth momentum, posting a 3.07% real growth rate in Q4 2023.

This growth was primarily attributed to key industries including finance, telecommunications, agriculture, manufacturing, and construction.

Accounting for 95.30% of the nation’s GDP in the same quarter, the non-oil sector continues to drive economic diversification efforts and reduce dependence on oil revenues.

Despite facing challenges, such as infrastructure deficits and regulatory bottlenecks, the sector’s resilience underscores its pivotal role in fostering sustainable economic development and inclusive growth agendas.

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