Ms Arunma Oteh, World Bank Vice President, on Monday tasked African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) to ensure the listing of 44,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) out of 44 million operating in Africa.
Oteh made the remark while delivering the keynote address at the 22nd ASEA Annual General Meeting and Conference organised by the Nigerian Stock Exchange, (NSE) in Lagos.
She said the exchanges must nature and ensure the listing of 44,000 SMEs on their various bourses out of the 44 million operating in African to deepen liquidity.
She said SMEs were strong drivers of economic growth and development, noting that the major challenge of SMEs was access to finance.
Oteh, who is also World Bank’s Treasurer, said African countries needed to build infrastructure and diversify their economies beyond commodities and natural resources extraction.
“If we focus on areas of opportunities that abound whether, in agriculture, services, retail, technology, particularly emerging technology, financial services, and hospitality, sustainability will be more granted.
“We must also foster innovation and entrepreneurship and I believe that securities exchanges are the epicentre of the ecosystem.
“Today, Africa is the largest continent with 60 per cent of its population below the age of 25.
“Of the 2.2 billion people that will be added to the world population by 2030, 1.3 billion people will come from Africa. Equally, Africa youth population is expected to double by one billion by 2050.
“Africa’s wealth is indeed it’s people if properly unharnessed,” she said.
Oteh said the focus of African economies should be on strengthening their competitiveness, especially given its importance in enabling sustainable and inclusive growth.
According to her, strong competitiveness will enforce resilience to shocks and well-being opportunities for the populace.
She stated that various emerging markets and Africa were still struggling with more difficult financial conditions, debt burden concerns, and weak commodity prices, among others.
“I will say that the greatest challenges of our time are extreme poverty, inequality, climate change, protectionism, populism, anti-globalisation, ethnic sentiment and uncertainty over the impact of disruptive technologies,” Oteh said.
Mr Oscar Onyema, ASEA President, said strategic relationships had resulted in grants worth approximately 1.2 million dollars from the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa and the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) fund via the Africa Development Bank (AfDB).
Onyema said the grants received to date were targeted at the African Exchanges Linkage Project (AELP), ASEA secondment programme, information portal and annual conferences.
“These programmes are critical levers of success for ASEA and we aim to continue to broaden and deepen our relationships in order to create increasing value for members and the African financial market.
“To this end, tomorrow we will officially sign a memorandum of understanding with the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE). I will like to thank the WFE and we look forward to working with the Federation on many initiatives.
“To ensure we deliver value for members and partners, we created a five-year strategy running from 2019 – 2023, which will provide a structured approach to delivering on our initiatives.
“The strategy is designed to position ASEA as the authoritative source of information on African exchanges and as such, we recently remodelled the statistics portal of our website in order to present quality statistics in insightful ways,” Onyema said.