The 11th annual Conference of the African Securities and Exchanges Association (ASEA) opened in Accra yesterday with a call on member Exchanges to work towards the integration of their markets to be able to handle big volumes of transactions.
Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, Chief Advisor to the President, who made the call, said the move towards an integrated African regional stock exchange was necessary to enable the continent to meet the demands of the competitive global environment.
Experts believe that the creation of a single stock market would allow the various stock exchanges to grow and become competitive as well as provide investors and companies a large market within which to raise capital.
But for this to happen, the exchanges as a first step have to harmonise the trading platform, rules and regulations governing trading in shares on the respective markets to pave way for integration of the markets.
While emphasising integration, Mrs Chinery-Hesse said the exchanges must also bring themselves closer to the small and medium scale enterprises and the self-employed, who currently seemed far removed from the activities of the bourses.
'Indeed, we need to create public confidence in the Exchanges through education to allow for active participation in its activities,' she said.
Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, said the government was determined to ensure the development of the Ghana Stock Exchange through the provision of infrastructure and facilitating the divestiture of government's interest in companies through the bourse.
He reiterated the need for continuous public education of the people to ensure the participation of all sections of the public in the trading activities on the bourse.
Mr Frank Adu, Jnr., Chairman of the Ghana Stock Exchange Council, said the management of the Accra Bourse was resolved to see the integration of the exchanges in the West African sub-region.
In this direction, a technical committee, made up of representatives of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Abidjan-based Bourse Regionale Mobilieres Valuers are working to harmonise the rules and regulations and to adopt a common platform for trading and cross border listings.
Mr Adu Jnr. said efforts were being made to ensure that these rules and regulations were compatible and meet international standards to provide investors the guarantee of protection of their investment.
He urged the stock exchanges not to resist innovation, saying it was the only way to grow the exchanges. Mr Maged Shawky Sourial, President of ASEA, said the stock exchanges had been doing well.
Mr Kofi Yamoah, Managing Director of the Ghana Stock Exchange, in an interview said integration was necessary for the capital markets in the sub-Region to fully participate in the global market. He said a single market would allow free flow of capital and expand investors' horizon to explore opportunities across frontiers.
But for this to succeed the law of one price, access to trade in equities at the same price and legal and financial obstacles must be removed.
In addition, barriers such as tax, legal and regulatory regimes, which do not permit the free flow of capital must be dealt with through the harmonisation of both the regulatory and operational framework and agreement on the use of minimum standards.
The ASEA conference, which is being held on the theme: 'African Capital Markets: The Next Investment Frontier,' would focus on issues affecting African capital markets, tap from the specific experiences of different emerging markets to assist in accelerating economic growth through greater and quality investments on the continent.
A session is being devoted to discussions on how to implement integration of the exchanges on the continent and assess the status of efforts to integrate the markets from North Africa, South Africa, East Africa and West Africa.
Global fund managers, issuers, market operators and regulators will use the three days to explore ways of attracting the necessary investment to aid the rapid development of African markets.