It is with great privilege that I welcome you, on behalf of African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA)’s Executive Committee, to the 23rd Annual ASEA Conference here in the beautiful tourist town of Kasane, Botswana.
I am deeply honored to have here with us our very special guest, His Excellency the President of this great Republic of Botswana Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Masisi. His Excellency allow me to congratulate you following Botswana’s national political multi-party elections in which Batswana elected you the 5th President of the Republic of Botswana. It is due to your traditions and values as Batswana and the upholding of democracy that we are able to set foot here today from all over the world, amid peace and tranquility, to advance matter of mutual interest. Once again congratulation Dr. Masisi and I sincerely wish you success in office in serving your nation.
I am delighted and honored to be addressing you on this established and well-respected gathering of the African Securities Exchanges Association.
This conference, themed “Building Resilient Capital Markets”, comes at 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.
I am sure that many valued members of the ASEA are represented in this room, but I would like to say a few words as President of the organization to introduce it to those who may not be as familiar with it; and to update the audience on the priorities and challenges which we have been engaged with.
The African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA), is the premier association of twenty-five (25) securities exchanges in Africa, five (5) associate members and two (2) observer members that have come together with the aim of developing member exchanges and providing opportunities for knowledge-sharing and collaboration.
Established in 1993 and headquartered in Kenya, ASEA works with African Member Exchanges to unlock potential of the African Capital Markets by;
-Enhancing the visibility of ASEA members at an international level, with a view to attract capital inflows to African Capital Markets;
-Providing an authoritative information portal on African public markets and aggregated statistics on African Exchanges;
-Being a powerful lobbying entity and voice of advocacy for Member Exchanges;
-Promoting market development among Member Exchanges;
-Promoting capacity building and training for Member Exchanges;
-Initiating strategic alliances on behalf of Members.
Ladies and gentlemen, over the last two and a half decades our organization has been resolute in its mission of being an enabler of African securities exchanges to become key economic and societal transformation drivers of the continent.
Our strategy, which commenced in 2019 focuses on five (5) key areas which will map out the critical initiatives required to deliver our value proposition.
We are guided by five (5) key themes in the execution of our strategy which are:
• Leading Advocacy for African Exchanges
• Promoting Liquidity in African Markets
• Building capacity for the Ecosystem
• Creating Regional Linkages
• And Ensuring our long-term sustainability
As part of creating value for our members and partners, we see it befitting and important to gather on an annual basis through this conference platform, with the aim of sharing ideas and knowledge on how our capital and financial markets can be further developed.
Development-wise, there has been significant progress as you will note from African Capital Markets Report presentation tomorrow, which will detail how each of our markets has grown and what we need to do to develop even further.
Undeniably for most of our African markets, the issue of liquidity and stimulating local investor participation still remain critical components that need to be addressed.
We must remember that carefully cultivated liquidity allows investors to transfer risk to professional market makers via stable and reliable markets
In addition, more widespread adoption of electronic trading could further enhance liquidity and reduce transaction costs for market participants by providing additional platforms to match buyers and sellers.
Such platforms will, in some cases, help reduce the time required to locate buyers and sellers and improve the process of price discovery.
The upgrade of trading, clearing and settlement systems is extremely pertinent in boosting the liquidity of our capital markets as it allows investors to realize the value of their investments more freely.
Furthermore, robust and efficient market infrastructure with fair and open access boost liquidity by making it safer and cheaper to trade, hold and value capital market securities.
Although these platforms can assist, our markets can benefit immeasurably from the presence of professional liquidity providers willing to buy and sell and accept a transfer of risk from investors.
Ladies and gentlemen on that note allow me to highlight other important drivers of market development which are more closely linked to capital market-specific functions:
Firstly, the importance of focusing on global sustainability issues has been prompted by growth in innovative sustainability-themed capital market products, such as renewable energy investments, green bonds, social-impact bonds, and sustainable funds.
This has been fueled by investors increasingly demonstrating a desire to align with major global frameworks particularly the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE);
Secondly, high quality and timely information is the lifeblood of effective and viable capital markets thus the provision of high-quality information at low cost through well-developed disclosure regimes gives investors the means to value securities;
In addition, a broad and diversified investor base provides a source of stable demand that supports liquidity, depth and stability, therefore greater bi-directional openness to international investors and issuers expands the pool of savings and investment products as well as promoting implementation of international best practices and standards;
Lastly, we believe that deeper complementary markets such as those for derivative, repo and securities lending spur liquidity and broader participation by facilitating the hedging and funding of capital market positions.
As I say mention all these, I have in mind a particular issue that I feel we must not remain behind on – that is technological innovation, which can benefit competition-based growth and a healthy market.
Innovation should operate in a balanced, fair and regulated manner, with appropriate alignment to that applied to established market infrastructures.
We must explore the appropriate use and coordinated regulation of crypto assets and crypto trading platforms and to look towards a regulatory environment in which technological innovation can not only thrive and prosper but also do so in a safe and efficient manner, which serves the consumer and supports stable markets and economic growth.
Ladies and gentlemen before I conclude, I want to thank everyone present here today and I urge all of you to put your ‘thinking caps’ on throughout the duration of this conference.
Over the course of these proceedings be assured that we will be taking note of all discussions and compile key takeaways we can us to do more to support African capital markets and businesses.
Let us engage, question, collaborate and integrate our vast knowledge and leave here with valuable insights with which we can all utilize to take our capital markets to the next level.
WELCOME REMARKS BY ASEA MR. KARIM HAJJI PRESIDENT, AFRICAN SECURITIES EXCHANGES ASSOCIATION. Day 1 of Conference – 25th November 2019.