Ms. Arunma Oteh, Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank, urged the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) to encourage the listing of 44,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) out of the 44 million operating in Africa.
Oteh, who made the call while speaking at the 22nd ASEA annual general meeting and conference hosted by the Nigerian Stock Exchange, (NSE) in Lagos, said the exchanges must ensure listing of these firms on their various bourses as part of efforts to improve markets in Africa.
She said SMEs are drivers of economic growth and development, but they find it hard to get access to finance. Oteh noted that it was imperative for Africa to build infrastructure and diversify economies beyond commodities and natural resources extraction.
According to Oteh, “if we focus in areas of opportunities that abound whether in agriculture, services, retail, technology, particularly emerging technology, financial services, and hospitality, sustainability will be more granted. We must also foster innovation and entrepreneurship and I believe that securities exchanges are the epicentre of the ecosystem”.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Oscar Onyema, President of ASEA said strategic relationships of the association had resulted in grants worth approximately $1.2 million from the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa and the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) fund via the Africa Development Bank (AfDB).
Oyema said the grants received are targeted at initiatives such as the African Exchanges Linkage Project (AELP), ASEA secondment programme, information portal and annual conferences.
He revealed that “these programmes are critical levers of success for ASEA and we aim to continue to broaden and deepen our relationships in order to create increasing value for members and the African financial market”.