Capital market regulators in the sub-region have given the clearest indication yet of their commitment to the West African Capital Markets Integration (WACMI) project.
Introduced in 2013, the project has its overriding goal as the establishment of a harmonised regulatory environment for the issuance and trading of financial securities, as well as development of a common platform for cross-border listing and trading of such securities in the sub-region.
The integration roadmap adopted by WACMI is three-phased, attaining the first of those – the Physical (Sponsored Access) which allows for brokers within the member-countries to trade securities and settle in markets other than theirs – through local brokers in the other member jurisdictions, formalised in 2014.
The second phase (Integration of Qualified West African Brokers) entails the harmonisation of regulations to allow qualified West African brokers (QWAB) to participate directly in the markets across the sub-region – and appeared to have stalled, pending regulatory approval, after market operators submitted a list of proposed rules.
However, at the second edition of the West African Capital Market Conference 2021 (WACMaC 21) in Accra, Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh – speaking as a member of the West African Securities Regulatory Authorities (WASRA) – explained that due to the varying levels of capital market developments across the region, the regulators were seeking to strike a balance between speed and due-diligence.
“The participating regulators have different governance structures. For instance, here in Ghana and in Nigeria there are differences. But there are even more differences when we take our francophone peers under the Conseil Régional de l’Epargne Publique et des Marchés Financiers (CREPMF); and this make things a little more complicated.”
He however moved to allay any fears about an extended delay in the project’s actualisation – stating that members of WASRA are working assiduously to achieve an integrated market as they are acutely aware of the economic and social benefits to individual member-states and the wider region.
“We are all fully behind this as we know it means issuers will have more opportunities to raise capital to expand their business, and that will feed into growth of the country… since we see the benefit in our capital markets of our individual countries, we know what could come if we have bigger platforms to mobilise long-term, patient capital. And that is why we are so much interested in achieving integration, because it will benefit the individual countries and wider region as we’ll be able to tackle challenges like infrastructure deficit and unemployment, among others,” Mr. Ogbamey-Tetteh stated explained.
Managing Director of the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) who doubles as President of WACMIC, Ekow Afedzie, on his part expressed optimism that the conference will afford opportunities for increased dialogue on the subject and that a resolution will be reached shortly.
“We have delegations from across the region duly represented here, and we believe this will be an ideal platform to iron-out the pending issues,” he said.
This sentiment was echoed by Director-General of the Nigerian SEC, Lamido Yuguda, who also called for more robust regulation to drive investor confidence.