Global Policy Forum

African Stock Exchanges Attractive For Investors, Experts Tell Wall Street

United Nations Development Programme
April 16, 2003

The future of Africa's stock markets is the future of the poor in Africa, UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown told investment managers, financial experts and heads of African stock exchanges in New York's Wall Street district yesterday. "The jobs, the businesses, the prosperity and the future of the region lies in its stock markets," he emphasized.

The returns in Africa are starting to be very impressive, said Mr. Malloch Brown, and this is linked to the future of the poor, since economic development is essential for mobilizing resources to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Mr. Malloch Brown spoke at the African Capital Markets Forum at JP Morgan Chase & Co., organized by UNDP in partnership with the African Stock Exchanges Association and the New York Stock Exchange. UNDP Associate Administrator Zéphirin Diabré chaired the event. It introduced the African Stock Markets Handbook, which provides investors with comprehensive data and market information on all 18 African stock exchanges.

Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, Chairperson of the African Stock Exchanges Association and Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, said: "Poverty reduction comes through wealth creation, and African stock exchanges help create wealth and the long-term capital needed for development."

Noting that equity investors traditionally look for high growth opportunities, Bryant W. Seaman III, New York Stock Exchange Group Executive Vice President, International, said: "Africa offers an unparalleled opportunity in that regard."

"You come together because you believe in Africa -- its people and its potential," said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a statement delivered by Deputy UN Secretary-General Louise Fréchette (since he was on a mission related to the Iraq crisis). "There can be no credible vision of a humane and peaceful world order for the 21st century that does not include a positive future for Africa," he said.

Most African countries are at peace, led by democratically elected leaders, noted Ms. Fréchette in her own statement. Under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) launched by African leaders, many of the private sector's priorities, such as effective regulatory systems and safeguards against corruption, have become Africa's priorities as well.

Claude Bébéar, Chairman and Founder of the AXA Group (Groupe AXA), the French insurance and financial management multinational, chaired panels on investment opportunities in Africa and investing in African capital markets. "Despite some of the weaknesses inherent in emerging markets, the potential of African stock markets is now greatly under-utilized," he said.

The high-level panelists discussed African reforms to encourage investment and proposed solutions to key challenges, such as mobilizing capital for small and medium-sized companies. "It takes money to make money, and we are seeking ways to increase capital availability," said Walter H. Kansteiner, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Other panelists included Ghana's Finance Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo; Charles Konan Banny, Governor of the Central Bank of West Africa States; and T.T. Thahane, Lesotho's Finance Minister; Alan Patricof, Chairman of Apax Partners; James Harmon, Chairman of Harmon & Co.; and Dr. Nicholas Biekpe, head of the African Center for Investment Analysis.

Cyrille Nkontchou, Managing Director of Liquid Africa, an online African investor services provider, presented highlights from the African Stock Markets Handbook, prepared by his company in partnership with UNDP.




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