Capital markets to drive wealth growth in Africa

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“The capital market is the one big idea that one needs to focus on today to help move us to the next level. You can create wealth through the capital market because companies are listed [and] the business environment is much easier because infrastructure is funded with medium to long-term finance,” said Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Nigeria director-general, Arunma Oteh.

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“The second thing is that you can distribute that wealth more broadly because individuals can invest in stock markets around Africa. When we look at some of the challenges of insecurity around the world, particularly in Africa today, focusing on how to empower the average person so that they can create wealth, so that income is more broadly distributed, is absolutely essential.”

Oteh, speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Africa, emphasised the importance of forging inclusive growth and creating wealth as the theme for this year’s conference.

“It’s an absolutely appropriate theme for Africa because Africa has been growing at five per cent over the last decade. Nigeria particularly has been growing at seven per cent,” she said.

“What everyone’s asking is ‘how does this translate into individual strengthening of wellbeing for the average African, for the average Nigerian’ so focusing on how to ensure that the growth that we’re seeing in Africa translates into inclusive growth and creates jobs is absolutely essential.”

(READ MORE: WEF Africa to address quality of African growth)

She added that for the SEC specifically, collaboration in capital markets is critical to development and growth.

“Any regulator that regulates a market that investors, globally, are interested in must be a member of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions. Integrity issues are particularly important for building world-class capital markets, therefore, if you’re a member of a body that covers 95 per cent of the capital markets around the world, you can gain information [and] you can share information,” Oteh explained.

“We security regulators have been at the vanguard of collaboration. We’re very pleased with the initiative that’s happening – the West African integration of our capital markets. There’s clearly an interest, it’s very important, it’s what will make sure that we have the same standards. It’s what will make sure that we build and share information that supports our markets.”