The African Development Bank is pushing for cross-bourse cooperation

President of African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina President of African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina

African nations are working to bolster cooperation among their stock exchanges, with the goal of better utilizing the region’s financial wealth for the development of its economy and infrastructure.

The initiative, backed by the African Development Bank, began with an agreement in July between the bank and various bourses to carry out trials.

“We are piloting the integration [of stock exchanges in South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and West Africa] to see how it goes,” the bank’s president, Akinwumi Adesina, told The Nikkei in a recent interview.

Integrated stock exchanges “will make it easier to mobilize domestic savings” into infrastructure investment, he said. Such steps will allow a “faster regional [economic] integration because capital can move more freely.”

The ADB will provide technical support to enable a company to list shares on multiple exchanges in the region. The bank will also help the bourses’ efforts to modernize and standardize information systems.

The total market capitalization of listed African companies came to roughly $1 trillion as of the end of 2015.

Africa is home to a variety of pension funds, government-affiliated funds and mutual funds. But large portions of their assets are held in U.S. and European properties and bonds.

Channeling the continent’s financial wealth to develop infrastructure is a high priority for Africa, since poor infrastructure is a major hurdle to economic development.

“The biggest challenge is infrastructure. To diversify the economy, you need roads, you need ports, and you also need to have electricity,” Adesina said.

Declines in commodity prices and an economic slowdown in China — Africa’s biggest trading partner — are having a significant impact on the region’s economy, according to the ADB president.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review