Archive for the 'Technology' Category
April 29th, 2013 by Tom Minney
Congratulations to the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (www.zimbabwe-stock-exchange.com) on its excellent new website, launched last month, including a very useful listed companies’ data terminal. This is good work by the ZSE team and Rob Stangroom’s work at African Investor Relations and related websites. The site opens up great access to a wide range of Zimbabwean listed companies annual reports, together with trading and other useful data.
Congratulating the ZSE, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance, the Honourable Tendai Biti commented: “The ZSE has come of age and it is moving in the right direction with this new functional data portal. It creates a platform for international investors to obtain the latest information on investment opportunities in Zimbabwe, and we are in effect, promoting and branding Zimbabwe properly as an attractive investment destination. There is now more transparency than ever before and stakeholders’ information requirements are being met.” This is quoted in the ZSE press release on the new system
According to a post by Rob: “The new Zimbabwe Stock Exchange website / data portal has a number of unique notable features not least of which is the complete availability of all corporate data, corporate actions and company information – all of it disseminated using push technology and social media (Twitter and Facebook). Notable is the Investorpass function supplied by B2i Technologies in the USA, which enables each registrant to have their own secure repository (for 7 years) of all communications received from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
“The new ZSE data portal has some handy online share charting tools for retail investors to compare the share price performance of the top 10 companies by market capitalization and any companies that are in the same sector. This may not seem significant other than the fact that information like this usually has to be paid for in Africa’s other stock exchanges.”
In the ZSE press release, Mrs Eve Gadzikwa, Chairperson of the ZSE, said: “The ZSE recognises the role of the Internet in communications in investor relations and, as part of our capacity building exercise, we are now able to respond to the needs of stakeholders who have been looking for a mechanism to obtain almost real-time information at the click of a button. Even though our organisation is a small institution, we are adopting a different approach in data dissemination which has meant a significant input into data collection, implementing functionality that ensures we achieve our objectives. We have teamed up with www.africanfinancials.com , Africa’s largest portal of online annual reports, to ensure that every annual report is available for viewing and download online immediately it is released. This is not something done in other markets. Compared with other data portal sites in Africa, ours is undoubtedly a notch above the rest.”
“Certainly, from a cost perspective, we can do away with hardcopy communications, which will save listed companies a significant amount of money and increase efficiency. On our side is international online investor relations precedent and best practice, high Internet penetration in Zimbabwe, so the pillars are there and it is a case of us getting online experience and taking it from there,” she said.
CEO of the SEC, Tafadzwa Chinamo, said he is impressed that the ZSE is now in control of its information and in charge of communicating relevant data to its stakeholders. “We can see that the necessary steps have been taken to ensure the ZSE’s online information dissemination is of a high standard and as a regulatory body, we look forward to the continued progress the Exchange will undoubtedly make in disseminating information timeously to all its stakeholders.”
According to Rob: “My involvement in online investor relations in Zimbabwe over the past 5 years has been rewarding and the launch of the ZSE Data Portal the pinnacle of this journey. I look forward to taking our integrated communications services to more listed companies and want to urge investors to consider Zimbabwean listed companies as an investment opportunity. In the ZSE Data Portal stakeholders in Zimbabwe now have a comprehensive tool to make more informed investment decisions.
Martin Matanda, Acting CEO of the ZSE, added: “The exchange is pursuing a bigger picture than just efficient information dissemination. It will be moving to a fully electronic communications’ platform.
View the ZSE data portal on www.zimbabwe-stock-exchange.com.
In January Rob’s team announced that stock exchange information was available on smart phones. The African IR App is a smartphone application that allows African stock-exchange-traded companies to optimize their investor relations (“IR”) content for iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices. The African IR App is powered by the IRapp™, the leading investor relations app platform engine. He said that 8%-10% of investor relations website traffic came from smartphones.
December 14th, 2012 by Tom Minney
Africa’s 24 stock markets should learn to work together better if they are to seize high levels of investor interest, said Nicky Newton-King, CEO of South Africa’s JSE Ltd (www.jse.co.za), Africa’s biggest securities exchange. She was speaking in an interview with agency AFP.
“The appetite for Africa is very, very high. I think everybody is trying to find their way, to participate meaningfully in that. All of us who are privileged enough to run exchanges, need to figure out that these waves of investor appetite aren’t yours by right. Once they come you have to be able to ride them properly. We should not be taking this as business as usual, this is a business opportunity.”
The International Monetary Fund forecasts the aggregate economy of sub-Saharan Africa will grow at around 5.7% next year, presenting a giant opportunity.
Newton-King said on 7 Dec that one way to channel the investor interest through African markets would be to make it easier to invest across borders and to improve liquidity in small markets so that assets can be bought and sold quickly.
The JSE already works closely with the Namibian Stock Exchange (www.nsx.com.na) and she said it is looking to make deals with two other African bourses. She said that creating a single pan-African bourse is not currently on the agenda and the JSE is concentrating on improving the continent’s financial plumbing including allowing cross- and dual-listings and easier order-routing.
“I think it is far more about collaboration. Were we not to have any exchanges on the continent I think we would have wanted to create a single exchange that would service multiple jurisdictions out of one legal base. That’s the most efficient way to do it, but I’m a bit of a realist. Once you try to do cross-border mergers and acquisitions, you run into much more trenchant issues of a regulatory nature, all of which stem from ‘how do we protect the local investor?’, ‘how do we make sure the local market grows?”
Newton-King identified liquidity as a key challenge to attract foreign investors: “Really big trades are not going to go to illiquid markets. The average day’s trade on the JSE is more than the average annual trade on Kenya and Mauritius put together. There are amazing companies in both of those countries.”
She said that allowing Kenyans to invest in joint-listed South African stock in KES shillings, or by allowing South Africans to more easily place orders into Nigerian stock markets would attract more foreign investors. She adds that there are benefits from cross-listing (securities being traded on more than one exchange), as the JSE learned when its leading shares moved to London: “When Anglo-American cross-listed in London, the amount of trades in Anglo-American increased. South Africa’s percentage of trade in Anglo-American decreased, but the decreased percentage was worth more. In those cases you have to think quite bravely.”
She was echoing a theme about Africa’s securities exchanges needing to become more liquid to serve the growing needs both of investors and of enterprises seeking capital.This theme has been strongly stressed by Sunil Benimadhu, CEO of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius, since he took over as Presdient of the African Securities Exchanges Association in October 2010, as reported on this blog.
The JSE has consistently offered to work closely to help other exchanges to develop and the author of this blog was GM of NSX when it linked its trading and broker systems in 1998-9. Exchanges in Southern Africa and in East Africa are stepping up the pace of collaboration. The Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges (COSSE) is working to forge more links,improve technology and other connections and take other steps to improve markets and boost liquidity, as reported here.
“Nigeria the new gateway to African capital markets”
The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE – www.nse.com.ng) aims to transform Nigeria into the gateway of African capital markets. Oscar Onyema, CEO of the NSE, on 12 Dec said this at a national competition for secondary and tertiary schools and colleges in Lagos. Priorities for the NSE management in 2013 will continue to be innovations in technology and new product development. Onyema promised more technology-based solutions and data services and said the NSE would advocate changes in policy and would also continue cleaning and restructuring, and making the market accessible.
September 4th, 2012 by Tom Minney
Months of hard work came to a climax when the Botswana Stock Exchange successfully launched its automated trading system (ATS) and now has live trading. This replaces the open outcry trading system and the aim is to make the BSE more visible and trading more efficient. The exchange has been using a central securities depository (CSD) since 2008 and this was upgraded alongside the implementation of the ATS.
The ATS was installed by MillenniumIT, part of the London Stock Exchange Group, after a BWP8.8 million ($1.1m) contract. MillenniumIT also installed the CSD.
The new system was implemented on Friday 24 August. The day before, Thursday 23 August, was a trading holiday, while Friday was a settlement holiday with trades settling instead on 27 August. These holidays were meant to enable the BSE to transition from the old CSD system to the upgraded version.
There is still a key target to encourage more shareholders to dematerialize their paper certificates and register them in the CSD for ease of trading. According to the BSE Annual Report, 46% of all domestic company shares and 91% of foreign company shares were dematerialized by December 2011, and so was the first corporate bond. In the annual report Chairman Patrick O’Flaherty notes “Along with the implementation of the ATS, our CSD (Central Securities Depositories) system is also being upgraded. This will ensure that the trading, clearing and settlement infrastructure of the BSE remains state of the art”.
In 2011 the BSE recorded average daily turnover of BWP4.1m. The volume of shares traded in 2011 was 458.7m, up from 308.7m in 2010. Letshego Holdings did a ten-for-one share split in 2010 and Furnmart and G4s followed suit in 2011.
INTERVIEW WITH HIRAN MENDIS, CEO OF BOTSWANA STOCK EXCHANGE
ACMN: What has the market participants’ reactions to the ATS?
HM: The response has been very positive. Automated trading is a completely new development in our market, but all market participants, particularly the brokers, have embraced the development and have basically hit the ground running. The amount of enthusiasm in the market is very humbling for the BSE.
ACMN: Were there any problems in the implementation?
HM: Apart from the normal day-to-day challenges that form part of any project, there were no major challenges. As the BSE, we had to work extra hard throughout the lifetime of the project to bring all stakeholders together and make sure that everyone is on the same page; that everyone understands and embraces the primary objective of bringing our market to par with other regional and international giants. Overall, it has been an extremely demanding but very rewarding experience for all stakeholders.
ACMN: Have you seen an increase in trading volumes?
HM: It’s still too early to say. In the first 2 days, it was quiet; probably because the traders were being cautious with the new trading platform. But turnover has since jumped back to previous levels.
ACMN: Are brokers now connecting from their offices (wide area network)?
HM: The brokers have been connecting from their offices since 2008 and this setup is still being used, even with the ATS. The networks have so far been very cooperative as we have not had any outages. The links that we have been using for WAN connectivity since 2008 have been very stable. On average, we have experienced less than 10 hours of downtime per year since 2008. About half of this downtime happened outside of trading hours.
ACMN: Can you give some technical details about the ATS and the CSD and their integration?
HM: The ATS is a trading platform, primarily responsible for accepting client orders, as input by brokers, and matching those orders on set criteria to produce trades. CSD system acts as a back-end for the ATS, handling the registry function for the ATS, together with clearing and settlement of all trades that happen at the ATS. For a client to be able to trade through the ATS, then they need to open a CSD account first. Communication between the systems is on a real-time basis and as clients buy/sell shares, their CSD account balances are updated in real time. The ATS is able to trade equity, debt, ETFs (exchange-traded funds), and GDRs (global depository receipts). Instruments that are currently actively trading through the ATS/CSD are equities and ETFs. Plans to include bonds are underway and CFDs will follow in due course. Trading currently happens from 10:30 to 13:30. The first trading session is an opening auction, followed by regular trading, then an interim auction session, then another regular trading session, which is followed by a closing auction session, and finally a closing price cross session.
ACMN: What future steps are planned – such as increased data flows, remote membership of BSE and direct market access?
HM: At this point we are more concerned with ensuring that that system continues to function according to expectations. Once the dust has settled and all stakeholders are comfortable with the system then the BSE will begin exploring availing market data in real-time to data vendors etc. After that, as a second phase of the automation drive, we will explore the possibility of Internet trading. As the BSE, we understand and appreciate that a wide spectrum of developments are now possible with an automated market. Funds and time permitting, we will build services around the CSD/ATS systems in order to turn our market into a true global player.
July 6th, 2012 by Tom Minney
The 10 stock exchanges of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) are working together to increase the effectiveness of their markets. The Committee of SADC Stock Exchanges (CoSSE) has agreed to concentrate on 6 priority areas in support of regional moves to more efficient capital markets.
The stock exchanges will explore ways to use technology to link their trading and order systems and work together to ensure clearing and settlement systems align with global standards adopted in April. They are working closely with SADC institutions to support development of regional systems, including payment and will boost visibility of trading data and enhance their joint website (www.cossesadc.org), launched in April by the JSE and I-Net Bridge. The bourses will also pool resources to accelerate training and skills development for capital markets staff.
CoSSE members are Botswana Stock Exchange, Malawi Stock Exchange, Stock Exchange of Mauritius, Bolsa de Valores de Moçambique, Namibian Stock Exchange, South Africa’s JSE Ltd, Swaziland Stock Exchange, Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange of Tanzania, Zambia’s Lusaka Stock Exchange, and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. They met on 25 June in Gaborone, Botswana in a meeting convened by CoSSE with support from SADC Secretariat.
“Stock exchanges have their roles cut out in each of our economies to augment our governments’ efforts to grow national economies for the greater good and as part of the SADC region’s struggle for growth to escape poverty,” says Mrs Beatrice Nkanza, Chairperson of CoSSE and CEO of the Lusaka Stock Exchange. “They are the channel for long-term risk capital, which is urgently needed for the region’s businesses, infrastructure providers and even governments. They also encourage saving and investment. CoSSE members are working closely together to support SADC initiatives and to make individual markets even more effective”.
CoSSE was set up in 1997 as a collective body of the stock exchanges in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It promotes co-operation and collaboration between member stock exchanges and is resourced by a Secretariat, supported by the JSE. SADC defines CoSSE’s role in the Finance and Investment Protocol and other policy documents and CoSSE has links to ministerial and senior treasury bodies and also works closely with the Committee of Insurance, Securities and Non-Banking Financial Authorities (CISNA) and the Committee of Central Bank Governors (CCBG).
CoSSE had set up three working committees to implement six business plans, prioritized from the initiatives identified in its Strategic Plan 2011-2016. These are:
1. Legal and Secretariat working committee – chaired by Geoff Rothschild of the JSE. This is responsible for formalizing and resourcing the Secretariat, and for continuing and improving liaison with CISNA and other SADC organs.
2. Market Development working committee – chaired by Vipin Mahabirsingh of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. CoSSE has been developing models for inter-connectivity between automated trading systems at some or all member exchanges. The working committee will help member exchanges ensure their clearing and settlement systems comply with new global standards and support regional initiatives.
3. Capacity-Building and Visibility working committee – chaired by Anabela Chambuca Pinho of the Bolsa de Valores de Moçambique. This will liaise with member exchanges, regulators, stockbrokers, investors and others to develop and coordinate training courses. It will also enhance the new CoSSE website, help members to upgrade their own websites and to ensure their trading data and company news are disseminated internationally.
Progress will be guided by an Executive Committee, consisting of CoSSE Chairperson Mrs Nkanza, CoSSE Vice-Chairperson Gabriel Kitua (CEO of the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange in Tanzania) and the three working committee chairpersons. The strategic plan was developed with assistance from FinMark Trust.
For more information contact
• Beatrice Nkanza, CEO Lusaka Stock Exchange, tel +260 (1) 228391 or email nkanzab [at] luse.co.zm
• Gabriel Kitua, CEO Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, tel +255 22 2135779 or email gabriel.kitua [at] dse.co.tz.
• Pearl Moatshe of CoSSE Secretariat, tel +27 11 5207118 or email pearlm [at] jse.co.za
April 27th, 2012 by Tom Minney
The Nigerian Stock Exchange says it will have the fastest trading system in Africa when it upgrades its trading to NASDAQ OMX Group’s X-Stream platform, with a target date of second quarter of 2013. The new system will handle a wide range of instruments, accounts will be accessible from smart-phones and it will enable the NSE to host other exchanges’ trading platforms.
Previously the NSE was automated with NASDAQ’s Horizon system. The new platform is part of the wider reforms being carried through by CEO Oscar Onyema, some of which were initiated by the previous interim administrator Emmanuel Ikazoboh. Reuters reports that reforms to the market include allowing covered short-selling and extending trading hours. The news agency reports that exchange officials said that the new trading system will build confidence in the market’s transparency and adds that analysts expect the market to end 2012 with gains.
The signing ceremony was held on 24 April, chaired by CEO Onyema and Adeolu Bajomo, (Executive Director, Market Operations and Technology) from the NSE, and for NASDAQ Sandy Frucher, Vice Chairman of The NASDAQ OMX Group and Lars Ottersgard, NASDAQ senior vice president and head of technology. The NSE and NASDAQ OMX have been working on designs since September 2010. Frucher said that the surveillance system has been integrated into the trading system while Ottersgard was reported as saying the latest edition of the X-stream technology matches orders in under 100 millionths of a second.
According to a report in This Day newspaper, Onyema described the new platform as high-performance, robust and scalable, multi-asset, multi-market matching trading engine: “The new trading platform will enable the NSE to have the fastest trading engine in Africa and investors, through their stockbrokers, will have real-time access to market prices, their portfolios and be enabled to execute market orders in near real-time from anywhere and on a wide range of devices including smart phones.”
Onyema noted that the new system would improve transparency and provide efficient price discovery in the market, among other benefits, stressing that investors in the market would benefit significantly from the system upgrade as it would afford them the opportunity to diversify their investment portfolio: “With this new system, equities, a fully functional bond market and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) will be accommodated in phase one of the project, while derivatives will be introduced in the second phase. The system will also enable the NSE to host other exchanges.” Several West African countries are discussing plans to open stock exchanges.
Bajomo said the process of selecting the system had been rigorous and that the NASDAQ OMX X-stream is used by 94 exchanges around the world. “We will work aggressively to go live with the Nasdaq platform by the second quarter of 2013, but this will depend largely on the preparedness of the other market operators.”
The price of the new platform is mostly quoted in the Nigerian press (for instance Daily Independent newspaper as US$2 million. A day earlier, This Day newspaper had put the cost at over $8.8m.
Other reforms: market makers, ETFs
Media reports (for example here) quote Onyema pointing to other reform targets, including a big rise in the number of listed companies, vibrant trading of those securities and a wider range of products: “As part of the strategic transformation of the exchange we set out last year to launch five products in five years and in December 2011, we launched the first exchange-traded fund in West Africa, the ABSA NewGold ETF. We are working on launching more products in the medium term and by 2013/2014, we plan to create an options market that will trade stock options, bond options and index options. This would be followed by a futures market in 2016 that will comprise currency futures and interest rate.”
On market liquidity, he said the exchange recently unveiled 10 market makers: “With this in place, we will soon start short selling and securities lending to further increase efficiency and liquidity in the market by making available securities where they are needed. These initiatives are a vital part of increasing the vibrancy, depth and competitiveness of the market. We have also put in place rules to allow companies to repurchase outstanding shares through a share buy-back process. This would facilitate the repurchase by a company of a portion of its outstanding issued shares. The aim is to improve shareholder value (ROA, ROE, EPS, P/E); meaning a companies that feel their share prices are undervalued may engage in share buy-back to shore up the prices while also reorganizing their capital structures.”
Reportedly the NSE aims for market capitalization of $1 trillion by 2015 and to be “the gateway to the African markets”. According to an earlier report in This Day newspaper the 10 stockbroking market makers were selected from a list of 20 applicants. They include: Stanbic IBTC, Renaissance Capital, Future View Securities, Vetiva Capital, ESS/Dunn Loren Merrifield, WSTC Financial Services, Capital Bancorp, FBN Securities, Greenwich Securities and CSL Stockbrokers. Onyema said: “The companies selected went through a very rigorous process and met the minimum net capital requirement of N570 million ($3.6m). We also examined their compliance history and looked into their operational capabilities, including their technology and processes.” He added the firms were trained, debated the appropriate market structure and the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the selection. The market makers used a draw to select a basket of quoted companies in which they would provide the desired level of liquidity.
December 17th, 2011 by Tom Minney
The Securities Commission of Zimbabwe (www.seczim.co.zw) has declined to grant the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (www.zse.co.zw – under maintenance), an operating licence, according to local media, and is challenging the exchange to provide a business plan. The Financial Gazette reports that the ZSE failed to provide critical information demanded by the regulator. ZSE CEO, Emmanuel Munyukwi, reportedly dismissed the SECZ claims, saying the exchange had complied with all requirements in terms of the law: “There is nothing like that. As far as I know we have confirmed and verified that all the required information is with the regulator,” he said.
According to a report in Zimbabwe Independent SECZ CEO Tafadzwa Chinamo summoned all members of the ZSE to attend a meeting. The Commission is reported to be concerned that the exchange has not automated and done away with the current paper-based trading system, despite suggesting that could happen by the end of 2011. However, the call-over meetings in Zimbabwe are often more active and lively than the screens of some of the less liquid African exchanges, which may even only record a few deals a day.
SECZ also said only 3 out of 20 stock-broking firms had been registered by the commission as having sufficient capitalization to continue and would issue their licences by circular. The regulator said there was concern that the exchange and most stock-broking companies did not get enough income to cover their expenses and remain viable, due to falling trading volumes. The Commission charges a yearly fee of US$3,000 for stock-broking firms and US$1,500 for individual stockbrokers.
According to the reports, the SECZ accused members of abandoning the exchange, given its current state of affairs, saying they needed to be proactive in the development and running of the exchange. It issued a circular to stockbrokers saying the ZSE had to comply with its licencing requirements and had to provide SECZ with information specified in Section 30 of the Securities Act, like other capital market intermediaries and “given that it operates as a Self Regulatory Organisation”.
The capital markets regulator reportedly wrote: “It is worrying therefore that the commission has not yet issued the ZSE an operating license due to the failure by the ZSE to provide the required information. Of particular concern to the commission is the non-submission of the 2010 financial statements which would enable the commission to verify the exchange’s capital adequacy. Also of concern is the lack of a business plan to satisfy the commission that the ZSE is working towards specific goals in developing the market.
“The exchange is owned by the members and as such it is the responsibility of members to ensure its smooth running. Members have a responsibility to resource the ZSE and see to it that the necessary management structures are established and supervised for the day- to-day operations of the exchange,” said Chinamo. “As the Commission we have reason to conclude that members have abandoned this responsibility and we seek to establish members’ position.”
The meeting was adjourned after brokers failed to reach consensus and they have nominated a 5-member committee, working under acting ZSE board chairperson Eve Gadzikwa, to sort out several issues affecting the viability and integrity of the exchange and report within a week. The committee includes veteran stockbrokers, Tediuos Matsaira, Bart Mswaka, Jeff Mhlanga, Edward Mapokotera and Rufaro Zengeni.
Chinamo reportedly added: “Given the important role members play in operating the exchange the Commission is concerned by the non-transparent manner in which new members are admitted. Several applications are awaiting approval months after submission resulting, in a number of firms operating without two brokers as stipulated in the SEC rules.” One broker was reported as saying that only having 30 stockbrokers was a limitation: “I believe that if the membership grows the bigger the pool of ideas we have and this can increase the pace of transformation of the market,” a leading broker indicated.
December 6th, 2011 by Tom Minney
Africa is using much less than its share of global financing available for carbon reduction projects, but the process to apply is complicated and a special facility has been set up to help. The African Carbon Asset Development facility has funded successful projects to reduce carbon emissions in Africa. A workshop was held last weekend for sharing practical lessons, attended by about 30 developers, investors, and local experts and bringing together African carbon asset development partners and financiers and beneficiaries including entrepreneurs on how to make carbon finance work for Africa.
The workshop highlighted successful carbon investment projects in Africa supported by the African Carbon Asset Development facility (www.acadfacility.org), formed by the United Nations Environment Programme (www.unep.org) in cooperation with Standard Bank Group (www.standardbank.co.za) and funded by the German Federal Environment Ministry (www.bmu.du/english). The ACAD partnership addresses key barriers that have stopped more people in Africa benefitting from carbon financing on projects as it provides technical assistance, seed capital, and specialized advisory services to both green entrepreneurs and to banks across Africa.
Although carbon financing is growing in importance worldwide, Africa’s share remains very low. According to ACAD facility’s website, in 2009 around $84 billion was invested in 684 emission reduction projects in emerging markets, but African nations got only 2% of the global total. The aim of ACAD is to help increase Africa’s carbon markets.
The workshop was held (somewhere) in Durban as part of a Conference of Parties (COP 17/CMP7) to discuss the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (at sometime) over the weekend 3-4 December. It was organized by Standard Bank and UNEP.
Two examples of successful projects were cited. Johannesburg-based AAP Carbon (www.aapcarbon.com) has developed a technology that can generate heat and electric power from furnace waste gases emitted during ferrochrome smelting. The development was piloted with a financing plan which included carbon credit revenue.
A plant near Rustenberg, South Africa is already operational for London-listed International Ferro Metals (www.ifml.com) and is reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 200,000 tons a year. Alex Berger, Director of AAP Carbon, explained how the project benefited from UNEP support so that it could tackle challenges in registering for a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which is a global framework allowing industrialized countries to fund carbon emissions in places where this can be done more cheaply. The AAP Carbon project is now in the final stages of registration and has apparently been certified with the premium Gold Standard. Several investors are interested in using the climate-friendly technology for other plants, after IFM and AAP Carbon showed that it works.
Kevin Fruin, a South African small business owner, said there is scope to make bricks in a way that is more efficient with energy. He said that construction accounts for almost 30% of South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions and 200 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa make clay bricks. He is one of the small businesses piloting a cleaner production technology called “Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln”. This can save manufacturers at least 50% of coal use and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and air pollutants such as soot and black carbon. ACAD is supporting the development of a national programme using the CDM to scale up these demonstration projects so that other businesses can use the technology. It is giving financial advisory, legal due diligence, and a customized carbon-auditing tool for participating SMEs.
The session also provided some 30 participants an opportunity to learn more about how to benefit from grants from ACAD and training.
November 11th, 2011 by Tom Minney
The International Finance Corporation (www.ifc.org) plans to invest heavily in new African telecommunications projects, with spending plans for up to $300 million in the financial year to June and another $400m the following year. According to a story on Reuters, the private-sector financing arm of the World Bank group is aiming for projects that are not commercially attractive to traditional financiers.
Kent Lupberger, IFC’s global head for Technology, Media and Telecom, told Reuters at an industry conference on 9 Nov: “We would very much be looking to do $200-$400 million a year for our own account in Africa and ideally helping mobilise funding from other sources — commercial banks, other development institutions — to double or triple that.” The IFC is to focus on new telecoms opportunities such as data centres, tower sharing, IT services and “last mile” broadband connectivity, reaching to end users, among others.
The IFC has previously gave considerable finance to cellular companies but it is cutting back on this because the telcos are now established and have easier access to financing.
October 28th, 2011 by Tom Minney
The next step for Africa’s securities exchanges is critical for the continent’s development. There is a huge demand for capital to be put to productive use in what could be the world’s fastest-growing continent, with a dire need for fast growth to drive out poverty. There is also a tide of international risk capital, looking to fund that growth and share in the profits. Between the two are the capital markets, challenged to move fast to become liquid, transparent and effective.
Lots of these topics are on the agenda for The 15th Annual African Securities Exchange Association conference (www.aseaconference2011.ma) (in Marrakesh, Morocco), which looks to have an excellent agenda. Casablanca Stock Exchange is the host, the theme is “Africa, alive with opportunities!”
Top speakers include key opinion leaders such as Thomas Friedman, Mark Mobius and maybe Christine Lagarde of the IMF. Expect speeches from Sunil Benimadhu (Stock Exchange of Mauritius and chair of ASEA), Karim Hajji of the Casablanca bourse, leaders of African securities markets and top speakers from several world bourses including BM&F Bovespa, Istanbul, NASDAQ OMX and the London Stock Exchange, with India’s National Stock Exchange and NYSE Euronext to confirm. They will be joined by finance ministers, bankers, analysts, traders, investors and many more.
Topics on day 1 include
• “The financial crisis: Is there a pilot in the plane?” Top analysts, bankers and traders, possibly joined by a European Commissioner from the heart of the crisis
• The economic implications of the “Arab Spring” for the continent, featuring key Ministers who are rebuilding post-crisis countries, a strategist and others
• Capital markets and BRICS (see previous story on stock exchange link-ups) – hear from CEOs and Executive Directors of key BRICS stock exchanges and Emergent Asset Management
• Nursing Africa’s future IPOs: heads of top African stock exchanges from Mauritius to Morocco, via Ghana and maybe Nigeria, plus PAI Partners, a leading French private equity firm
• A new FTSE-ASEA African index.
Day 2 tackles
• Regulation for cross-border development: Regulators from Morocco and the central African stock exchange, plus long-term Africa bull stockbroker Jonathan Auerbach
• Cost-effective and scalable technology options for emerging markets exchanges – featuring Tony Weeresinghe of the LSE, Anne Ewing of NASDAQ and maybe Joseph Mecane of NYSE Euronext, 3 top suppliers of securities markets systems to the continent who hold many of the keys to the next stage of evolution.
• “What’s hot in Africa today?” with a host of top speakers from politics, consulting, banking, mining, economics and development finance covering energy, infrastructure, mining, industry, agribusiness and others.
OPINION: Please note the Day 2 morning topics address critical and urgent issues of how African stock exchanges can work across (colonial) borders to build liquid and effective markets, part of the grand process of African integration and building viable economies.
Expect participants from over 100 countries. The ASEA AGM and committee are on 11 Dec and the conference starts on 12 Dec. The official language is English with Arabic and French translations.
Unmissable! Book the conference here via the ASEA website (www.africansea.org).
Warning!! You may not want to come home. The conference is in Hotel Palmeraie Golf Palace & Spa. The conference website says: “As a backdrop, the majestic, silvery, sentry-like summits of the High Atlas stand out. At the foot of the mountain lies a beautiful city, built in red and surrounded by age-old palm trees. Monuments defying time form a string of pearls for her. An enticing labaryinth, created centuries ago, of old ramparts meanders along its slender “body”. In this fairy-tale decor, lies Marrakesh the legendary; Marrakesh the imperial, the pearl of the south, bathed by an invigorating sun all year round.”
September 8th, 2011 by Tom Minney
[SPONSORED STORY] Banking is changing fast and nowhere more than in the African markets, where growth opportunities are huge with some 250 million households still unbanked, but only for banks with the skills and technology to chase them. Banks are expanding fast across Africa, heralding new competition. Innovative banks are seizing opportunities served up by technology to reach out to millions of new customers and find ways to offer financial services that will help them increase bank revenues, through agency or branchless banking, microfinance, SMME lending, or mobile money, e-wallets and biometrics.
Banking strategies for the future revolve around “base of the pyramid”, “technology convergence”, “cloud” and “inclusive banking”. In order to grow against competitors, banks are moving into technology, from core banking systems, adding a range of user interfaces, including Internet, mobile phones, call centres. In 2011 banking leaders are moving to agency banking and branchless lending. Lessons can be learnt and the future charted for emerging markets, including India, South Africa, Kenya and Malaysia.
Speakers at a top conference “Technology Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies” set for London from 28-30 November include global banking leaders in development, SMME and micro-finance institutions such as Anil Kumar, (CEO of IFMR Rural Finance, India), Yolanda van Wyk (CEO Smart Services at First National Bank, South Africa), Sandeep Indurkar (Head Mobile Payments – Internet Banking and Mobile Banking, ICICI Bank, India). Technology and finance expert speakers include Gerhard Romen (Director Mobile Financial Services Nokia), Dr Tim Kelly (Lead ICT Policy Specialist, The World Bank) and Menno van Doorn (Director VINT Research Institute for the Analysis of New Technology). The agenda covers software-banking partnerships, the impact of broadband, government pressures towards financial inclusion, biometrics including fingerprinting, cloud-based technology for banking, e-wallets and banking in growth economies and technologies for scale.
The conference is aimed at banks across the emerging and frontier markets, particularly where their growth will be linked to new customers with growing incomes, also technology experts and banking system vendors, development finance experts, policy-makers and leading commentators.
Together they will discuss potential solutions to challenges such as:
• Poor connectivity – satellites, cable and changing national and regional regulation
• Central and development banks plans to upgrade current ICT infrastructure
• Infrastructure of tomorrow being prepared for the next stage of branchless banking
• Understanding infrastructure needed to support the alliance between telecoms and banking providers
• Can microfinance banks be a delivery channel hard-to-reach regions?
The first day, 28 November, consists of workshops: i) the fast-track on how ICT creates better delivery channels for financial products to reach the unbanked and ii) branchless banking – seize opportunities and mitigate risks.
The conference website http://technologyinnovation-banking.com gives details and bookings. Or call: +1 212 537 5898 or email: email@example.com. Early bird discount of up to GBP300 expires in 8 days.