Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Politics of African Stock Exchanges

The University of Texas at Austin is having a conference on Africa in March 2011. It is all about Politics and History. I submitted an abstract. Here it is:

In many countries in Africa, a stock exchange seems an oddity. Exchanges, national symbols of investment and commerce are housed in cities rife with poverty. Some African Stock Exchanges were established with funds from international donors-their existence a condition for receipt of funds. In general, there was no pressing economic need to establish an exchange. Since inception, these stock exchanges function in much the same way as their birth would suggest; as products of a political agenda in contrast to the traditional economic institution generating wealth for private and institutional investors.

This paper considers specific African stock exchanges, primarily in Eastern and Southern Africa, in comparison to Western exchanges in terms of history and politics. These exchanges are distinct in many ways in terms of liquidity, volume, and regulation. Furthermore, they continue to strive to conform to international standards. For example, many endeavour to obtain membership in the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), the gold standard in securities regulation dominated by Western developed exchanges. Additionally, they operate in nations that have few companies able to raise capital on the exchange and few consumers with the financial capability to invest.

The African exchanges considered by this paper developed in a manner distinct from Western exchanges. Still they are compared and measured according to standards set by others. This paper explores specific stock exchange beginnings and how they function now to hopefully better define how they operate domestically and possibly discover where they fit in the global community of stock exchanges.

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