22nd Annual Conference Of The African Securities Exchanges Association
AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS HAVE ROLE TO PLAY IN CHAMPIONING SUSTAINABILITY, FINANCIAL AND SOCIAL INCLUSIONS WITHIN CONTINENT
“As experience elsewhere has shown, greater financial inclusion is only a short leap away from increased engagement in other financial activities including micro-insurance, micro-loans and indeed participation in stock markets be it unit trusts.”
REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, THE VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 22ND ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE AFRICAN SECURITIES EXCHANGES ASSOCIATION ON THE 26TH OF NOVEMBER, 2018
It is a very special pleasure to be here this morning at this 22nd Annual Conference of the African Securities Exchanges Association.
I join all those who have spoken before me in welcoming participants, especially those that have come from other African countries and indeed, the rest of the world to Lagos.
It is evident that the African Securities Exchanges Association has a key role in our continental quest for economic growth and development. This is not only because of the vital role that capital markets play in our domestic economies, but because the Association reflects the right spirit of collaboration and partnership required of African countries and their economic institutions, to bring about a more vibrant, dynamic continental economy.
The theme of this year’s conference: ‘Champions on the Rise: Africa’s Ascension to a More Sustainable Future’, is at once uplifting and thought-provoking. It is inspirational because it recognizes that Africa through its talents, businesses and commerce, is on the rise. Africa as we all know is the last frontier for virgin economic opportunities and given recent positive developments in the continent, it is only a question of time before the abundant opportunities in the continent bring about major socio-economic changes.
At the same time, our theme reminds us that the path of development which worked for the more advanced countries and leading emerging economies, especially their indulgence in environmentally damaging industrial practices, may be no longer sustainable. This means that past pathways to growth and prosperity may no longer be easy to replicate. In other words, Africa’s rise is to some extent, an unbeaten path. There lies high significant challenges but also great opportunities.
Much has been said since the turn of the Millennium, about the relatively high growth rates in Africa, such that the more optimistic amongst us were already seeing the continent as a potential pole for global growth. The global economic and financial crisis and the end of the commodity boom tempered some of this exuberance, but there is still a lot to be said about Africa’s positive trajectory.
Several African countries, including those that are not rich in natural resources, continue to do well and we also have transformed the outlook of democracy, accountability and anti-corruption on the continent. Not quite twenty years ago, these were bad words in Africa, but now there is hardly any African country in which elections are not considered the commonplace and this year is the African Union year of anti-corruption, with President Buhari as its champion.
All of us in African governments, private firms, market institutions must be the champions on the rise and we have a duty and responsibility to assure a sustainable future for this beautiful continent.
We in the Federal Government of Nigeria realise this and know that what is required is the rigorous and unglamorous business of keeping to the vision of our Economic Recovery and Growth plan, fiscal prudence and discipline, and ensuring rigorous governance in the public finance space. We are accordingly committed to ensuring macroeconomic stability in an inclusive economy with a diversified production base.
We also realise of course that a conducive and supportive environment is essential for businesses to thrive and have accordingly invested heavily in infrastructure while working strenuously to make it easier to do business.
We also realise the importance of a sustainable future and we have become one of the first, if not out rightly the first African government, to float a green bond to promote the environmental objectives of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. Of course, sustainability is not only about repairing the environment, but also ensuring that our rising populations can be clothed, fed and housed without further depleting or damaging the finite stock of global resources.
This will require using resources more efficiently and effectively. It also means that we have to avoid the tragedy of the commons and also tackle inequality of opportunity and outcomes.
Our social investment programmes in school feeding, job creation and economic empowerment, through interest-free micro-loans, will certainly promote social inclusion and help ensure peace and security so vital for long-term investment and economic sustainability.
African companies, especially those listed in the exchanges that make up this Association, must also be champions on the rise. They must keep faith with the continent not only for patriotic reasons, but also because they understand better than foreign firms that there are great rewards for staying the course. They not only understand local conditions but they are also well placed to navigate through seeming complex local practices.
Happily, the African companies that invest in the continent are expanding quite rapidly and the amount of intra-Africa foreign direct investment almost tripled in the decade till 2016. These companies must also innovate. They must innovate in response to new ideas and take advantage of unique features of the African economy. We must build on the great advances in FinTech like M-PESA, Paystack, Fluterwave and Eyo Owo, in Nigeria. Worthy of mention also are the insightful mini-packets for drinks, soap, milk, medicines, sugar and such like as we find in the retail sector in many African countries.
The emergence of national and corporate champions in Africa will also depend a great deal on the activities of stock markets and other exchanges. This is because of their key role in capital formation and intermediation between various actors in capital markets including governments, firms and individuals.
In addition, African Securities Exchanges have a vital role to play in promoting best practices in corporate governance to ensure the highest standards of transparency and accountability.
Very many of our countries suffer a foreign exchange gap in terms of paying for vital imports, including raw materials and intermediate goods. But by providing an avenue for portfolio investments, capital markets have helped to provide much-required liquidity. Of course, we realise that such inflows can be quite volatile and that we must prepare for sudden reversals to avoid a disorder and potential crisis.
Another key role that capital markets must play in this era is to assist technology start-ups to find the resources they need to promote and grow their businesses. We have an Advisory Group on Technology and Creativity here in Nigeria and one of the dominant themes in our discussions with the young entrepreneurs in these sectors is the lack of affordable and parent capital.
We are accordingly working with the African Development Bank to establish a $500m Innovation Fund that will support activities in this sector. Given the size of our economy and the potential of the technology and creative sectors, I am hopeful that capital market operators will work towards innovative financing solutions to lend further support to these two sectors.
Partnerships will, of course, be essential to ensure that African champions continue to rise in a sustainable manner. Such partnerships must be between governments, private firms and business associations. This is something that we pay a great deal of attention to in Nigeria and over the years, our capital markets have been used for a listing of Federal Government instruments as well as for initial public offerings of privatised firms.
Beyond transactions, our collaboration with existing and potential African champions takes place through our National Industrial Policy and Competitiveness Advisory Council, which has several founders of African multinational in its membership. In addition, we have a Presidential Quarterly Business Forum where we brief and interact with leaders of business associations on an on-going basis. We have held nine of such forums thus far.
We have also been promoting the spirit of partnership in the financial sector in order to promote financial inclusion. In this regard, the Central Bank of Nigeria will soon be issuing licenses for Payment Service Banks, which will increase access to financial services to low-income earners and the unbanked. As experience elsewhere has shown, greater financial inclusion is only a short leap away from increased engagement in other financial activities including micro-insurance, micro-loans and indeed participation in stock markets be it unit trusts.
Before I conclude my remarks, permit me to congratulate the African Securities Exchanges Association for staying the course until this 22nd Annual Conference. The items on your agenda are far from commonplace and I am confident that your deliberations here will promote furthering understanding of how the issues of green growth, cloud banking, and FinTech will impact on African economies.
Moreover, our countries will also benefit from the insights of your members on innovative financing for micro, small and medium enterprises, as well as, for affordable housing.
We must also salute our host, Mr. Oscar Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and his team, on the completion of a very productive tenure as President of the African Securities Exchanges Association. Congratulations also to Karim Haji, the incoming President of ASEA and other members of the incoming Bureau, and our very best wishes for outstandingly successful tenure.
While wishing the entire conference fruitful deliberations, may I also invite you, especially our foreign guests, to sample the sights and sounds of this dynamic, and iconic city of Lagos before departing our shores.
It is now my special pleasure and privilege to declare open, the 2018 African Securities Exchanges Association Conference.
“All of us in African governments, private firms, market institutions must be the champions on the rise and we have a duty and responsibility to assure a sustainable future for this beautiful continent.”