The African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) have been challenged to work towards the listing of at least 44,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) out of the estimated total of 44 million SMEs currently operating on the African continent.

Ms Arunma Oteh, the former Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and current VP and Treasurer of the World Bank, stated this in Lagos while delivering a speech during the ongoing 22nd annual conference of ASEA.

She stressed the need for stock exchanges across Africa to list small businesses, saying that doing so would help to deepen the markets.

She also noted that small and medium scale enterprises are key drivers of any economy. Unfortunately, they often face major challenge bothering on the lack of access to finance; something that could easily be taken care of through listing.

She also used the occasion to stress the need to advance Africa’s infrastructural base as well as diversify the economies on the continent in order to guarantee sustainable development.

In her words-

“If we focus in 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.” -Oteh

Also speaking during the opening day of the conference is Mr Oscar Onyema, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the President of the African Securities Exchanges Association. He spoke about the benefits of the strategic relationship the alliance fosters, including a $1.5 million grant that has been set up and targeted at African Exchanges Linkage Project among other important projects.

“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.” -Onyema

This year’s ASEA conference was themed Champions on the Rise: Africa’s Ascension to a More Sustainable Future and Ms Aruma Oteh is among the 44 high profile individuals slated to speak during the 2-day event.

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