By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Lamido Yuguda, has tasked regulators in the West African region to keep pace with capital market dynamics by carrying out a regular assessment of policies and programmes to fit current realities and address the region’s peculiar challenges.
Speaking at the West African Capital Markets Conference with the theme Deepening and Strengthening the Capital Markets Across West Africa through Effective Regulation, he said the need for regular assessment necessitated the revision of the WASRA/WACMIC (West African Capital Markets Integration Council) Road Map to reflect current developments and include specific initiatives that will further improve the successful implementation of integration and other efforts.
At the event organised by the West Africa Securities Regulators Association (WASRA) and held in Accra, Ghana, Mr Yuguda said WACMaC periodically presents members with an opportunity to explore the role that financial markets should play in supporting the growth of the real sector of the respective economies and indeed the sub-region in general.
The SEC chief, who doubles as WASRA Chairman, stated that, “We are not unaware that in some member states, capital markets activities are still in their nascent stage.”
“In collaboration with ECOWAS, efforts are being made to encourage these jurisdictions to join WASRA. We intend to engage and partner with them to build capital markets that will support the growth and development of their respective countries while advancing our regional market integration efforts,” he added.
“As the region continues to expand in market size and influence, it becomes increasingly more important to focus our attention on developing world-class markets by looking at innovative ways to address critical issues such as systemic risk, market integrity, investor protection, fintechs and disruptive technologies.
“We must also be steadfast in our collective efforts to close the geographic distance between our markets through ways and means that facilitate regional integration,” the Nigerian stated further.
Mr Yuguda expressed delight at the high level of participation at the meeting emphasizing that the biennial conference is geared toward promoting robust discussions on how to harness resources and effectively optimize collective efforts towards the integration of markets in the region.
This, he stated, will no doubt lead to the realization of a key outcome, namely, an increase in capital markets’ contribution to the economic growth and development of the region.
“You will recall that at our inaugural conference in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, we resolved to continually strive to create an environment that facilitates cross-border securities transactions; strengthen investor protection; build capacity; be more innovative with our processes, among others.
“To this end, we have made significant progress by adopting strategic initiatives aimed at boosting the economy, generating wealth, improving infrastructure development and growing trust and confidence as we strive for a deeper and more resilient capital market” he added.
In his address, the DG of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ghana, Mr Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh, said the journey to achieve an integrated capital market in the West Africa sub-region began some nine years ago with the overarching goal of creating a regional capital market that would create the platform for various issuers including corporates, governments, regional development bodies, agencies and multilateral to raise relatively cheap capital to fund regional infrastructural projects, corporate expansion and private sector development, cross-border trade and overall economic development of the sub-region.
According to him, “everyone who is participating in this conference has a sense of an appreciation of the important role capital markets play in the mobilization of long term capital in the financing mix of any economy so there is no need to preach to the choir here. The focus of this conference, and rightly so, is on how effective regulation can enable the deepening and strengthening of the capital markets in the sub-region.”
“Any weak link in the regulatory regime in an integrated market can spell doom and hence the need for a lot of effort to be channelled into developing a harmonized set of rules and regulations, the application of best practice in the regulation of securities markets and pursuit of robust cooperation to avoid regulatory arbitrage, protect investors as well as the integrity of the capital markets,” he added.
Mr Tetteh, therefore, called on all the member states of ECOWAS, to get on board as they pursue this noble path to achieve an integrated market in the sub-region.
“No one would do it for us so we owe it to ourselves to assume the responsibility. The good news is that we can do it so let’s go for it. Your very strong participation in this conference says something about commitment to the cause so there’s hope that the dream would become reality,” he stated.