Smooth West African Polls May End Bourse’s Four-Year Losing Run

The benchmark stock index in West Africa’s regional bourse, which has been in retreat since 2016, may get a boost if a flurry of elections in member countries pass off smoothly this year, according to a money manager.

Four states affiliated with the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres: Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and Ivory Coast, Francophone West Africa’s largest economy, go to the polls this year. Successful voting, combined with beaten-down stock valuations could entice investors back to the market, said Myriam Ouattara, of EDC Asset Management, which oversees about $307 million in mutual funds.

Togo kicked off a season of West African elections on Feb. 22, to be followed by Ivory Coast in October, Burkina Faso in November and Niger at the end of the year. Regional voting aside, investors are also tracking progress in changes to the CFA franc currency, used by all eight of the countries linked to the BRVM. The exchange’s main index has slipped about 10% so far in 2020. A fifth year of declines would be the worst since its inception in 1999.

“If the elections go well, there’s no reason for the market not to go up,” Ouattara, who also heads up research at EDC, said in an interview in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast economic capital and home of the BRVM. The bourse features companies that are profitable but trading at low price-to-earnings ratios, Ouattara said, citing Total Senegal SA and Bank of Africa Senegal as examples.