West Africa Sets 2020 for Start of Cross-Border Securities Trade

The cross-border trade of debt and equities in 15 West African countries and Morocco is scheduled to start in 2020, according to the region’s securities authorities.

Regulators operating in the Economic Community of West African States and Morocco will ask the finance ministers of member nations to endorse the plan at a meeting scheduled for December, Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh, chairman of the West African Securities Regulatory Authorities, said in an interview.

Thereafter, individual states are expected to ratify the pact by the middle of next year, he said in Abidjan, the commercial hub of Ivory Coast.

“Once we get the green light that the Ecowas processes have been completed, we need to aggressively bring the brokers up to speed so that they can take the ball and run with it,” he said. “There are so many benefits that a bigger, deeper market will present to investors, to issuers and to those who manage funds.”

The start of trade will signal a further step to integrate markets in a region of more than 350 million people.

While the mostly French-speaking members of the bloc already sell debt among themselves, buyers in the rest of the region typically need intermediaries for cross-border transactions.

The region have stock exchanges in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Casablanca.

In a memorandum of understanding that was signed by regulators in August, members agreed to implement rules and procedures that will ease the trade of stocks and bonds and canvass central banks for their support.