Accessing finance in West Africa needs collaborative efforts – Stanbic exec.

access to finance
Kobby Bentsi-Enchil, Head of Investment Banking at Stanbic Bank Ghana

Head of Investment Banking at Stanbic Bank Ghana, Kobby Bentsi-Enchil, has called on West African countries to embrace collaboration and consultative efforts to improve access to finance in the sub-region.

He said this at the opening of the West Africa Capital Market Conference (WACMaC) at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra.

Speaking on the topic: ‘Access to Finance via Cross-Border Listings on Stock and Fixed Income Exchange’, Mr. Bentsi-Enchil said across capital markets in West Africa, the challenges facing cross-border listings are basic, and this requires uniform standards to address them.

“The challenges across the capital markets are fundamentally the same, marked by lack of uniformity of standards, lack of market depth and currency fungibility issues. Also, lack of harmonisation in regulation across markets regarding financial reporting, prospectus disclosures, corporate governance, rating considerations and free float and valuation requirements are critical challenges which must be tackled head-on,” he noted.

He also elaborated on some of the reasons for the hesitancy of foreign capital inflow into domestic markets in West Africa. He mentioned unattractive returns on investments, capital controls and convertibility risks, lack of robust continuing disclosure standards, limited access to current real time information and relative illiquidity in the secondary markets as some of the main reasons for the hesitancy in foreign capital inflow.

In addressing these challenges which confront West Africa’s capital markets, Mr. Bensti-Enchil advocated for collaboration among key stakeholders across the various countries.

According to him: “Collaboration and collaborative efforts are critical to improving access to finance. There must be coordinated efforts between ministries of finance within jurisdictions to encourage potential issuers to pursue cross-border listings. Member-countries should also consider increased collaboration on issuer solicitation, information-sharing, regulation and reporting standards, as well as concessions on fees and levies.

“There is also need for regional bourses to explore collaboration with multilateral institutions and global stock exchanges, while engaging in consistent investor education to enumerate benefits of investing in cross-border listing. Also, leveraging the benefits of AfCFTA’s Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) is one key tool that could facilitate regional integration,” he added.

The two-day conference is organised by the West African Securities Regulators Association (WASRA). WASRA is the regional body for Capital Market Regulators in West Africa with the mandate of facilitating cooperation and consultation among capital markets in the West African region.

The event, which is being held under the theme: ‘Deepening and Strengthening the Capital Markets across West Africa through Effective Regulation’, brings together relevant stakeholders and experts – including regulatory agencies, market operators, inter-regional economic bodies, academics, etc. – to share experiences and deliberate on best practices to improve West Africa’s Capital Markets.

WACMaC is a biennial event that seeks to present the West African region, and indeed Africa as a whole, the opportunity to address important issues related to the orderly growth and development of the regional and continental capital markets.

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