Monday, December 28, 2009

SITI East Africa

A securities training institute has been launched in East Africa. The Securities Industry Training Institute (Siti East Africa) is based at the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) in Kampala, Uganda.

This initiative is financed by the IFC. The board members of Siti East Africa include representatives of all of the exchanges of East Africa-Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. It is a capacity building initiative.

The curriculum was agreed by all of the exchanges. It contains 4 distinct courses: a Fundamentals course, Markets participants course, Officers and Directors course and Specialty seminar. The objectives of the entire program are to widen the base of knowledge that the capital markets rely upon to regulate itself and to function in a capable way with the public. The program targets directors of companies, brokers as well as policy makers and financial professionals.

The modules as described on the USE website cover such things as Client account management, payment and settlement, and Legal Aspects of the Securities markets. These fundamentals are essential for any market participant let alone financial market professionals. One of the objectives of SITI is also to conduct programs on Information Technology and Clearing and Settlement. This is absolutely necessary for the exchanges of East Africa.

I think this program is utterly awesome. But it is financed by the IFC so it is basically US subsidized. Right now I am struggling with whether that is entirely a bad thing….

The US financial markets have fairly stringent standards when it comes to broker education and examination. This is not replicated in the UK or elsewhere. Typically, the English are far ahead of us in education but here they fall behind I am afraid. I think this is absolutely the right thing at the right time. With worrying activities in Kenya as far as broker activity, requiring education and potentially examinations of financial industry professionals can only be a good thing.

Moreover, the potential for the involvement of information technology is enormous. A guy who works for SWIFT spoke at ASEA in Abuja. I met him at the water table between speakers at ASEA and accused him of being part of a global mafia controlling the transfer of international payments (swift code and all that). He said, ’rubbish!!’ and explained that they are completely transparent. (Ian Bessarabia, SWIFT). I did really believe him and I think he has something that Africa wants. SWIFT can provide clearing capabilities for exchanges. AND the fact that they are already so internationally connected means there may be some bullying but ultimately they provide credibility. ALSO, they can document easily all transactions so should disputes over trades occur resolution may be nothing more than production of the paper trail- rather than something more arduous requiring testimony or worse-lawyers. All of this sounds too good to be true, so it probably is. HOWEVER, I think that sometimes fear of bullying or too much corruption or fear alone prevents progress.

Take this Nigerian student on the Northwest flight to Detroit. People do things. Countries do things and organisations do things. If we begin to forget the differences between all of these things we might as well forget surviving global warming let alone the next 10 years.

People do things. Progress dies when we stop seeing with our hearts and our inner sense. Politics is number one right now in the US…not reason and progress.

Africa has many progressive initiatives. This education is run by the IFC but I don’t care about that. I no longer care where people come from. I only care about people as humans. What difference does it make anyway? Enough crazy politicians want to seem effective and make us sit for the last hour of a transatlantic flight. Well ok.

I choose life. I see people and they do things good and bad and I see that too and I am not confused.

I encourage everyone to develop this skill.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Totally cool poster of Zimbabwe money

A friend has created a two-sided poster of the crazy progression of Zim dollars during hyper-inflation. It is amazing.
This picture shows both sides of the poster. It is for sale-$10 USD.
Let me know if you want one. I already have mine!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Abuja-one last time

Sunrise Day 1
National Football Stadium
National Mosque

Driver shouting, "Did you get the picture? Did you get it!!!!? Take a picture of this bridge! Did you get it???!"

Village in the distance
Abuja, city gate


Monday, December 7, 2009

Arik airlines saved my life!!

I had a hell of a time getting out of Abuja, because BA completely let me down. What is more important is that all the people at Arik airlines and those at the Abuja International airport saved my life. They rushed to help me and I am not exaggerating.

The man behind the counter, the money changers, the ticket man, security, the ladies at the gate. They took pity on me. I was FRANTIC when BA refused to let me on the flight because I was late, another story completely. BA wanted to put me on the flight to LAGOS!!! and then to London the next day. Unacceptable because I was due to meet my new supervisor.

Arik rushed me on to a plane that left 15 minutes after the BA flight. And BA was rule oriented for what??

The Nigerians in Abuja dispel everything I have ever heard about Nigeria. Across cultural, racial and religious lines they saved me from the Lagos airport and got me to London. I am eternally grateful and I will NEVER FLY BA EVER AGAIN!!

To be clear the Arik airplane was brand spanking new, clean and the staff was friendly, efficient and exceedingly polite.

I found Abuja to be the complete opposite of everything everyone has said.

Nigerians are the Americans of Africa-misunderstood, misjudged, a little naughty, self-deprecating in their humour and a good deal of fun to be around.

Pictures to follow as I am in London right now freezing. Back to So Cal tomorrow then I will load the pics of the National Mosque and the city gate of ABUJA!!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beautiful Abuja!!

Nigeria has been wonderful. Abuja has beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I hope to capture that on film tomorrow and post.

The ASEA meeting has gone well. There are about 300 attendees. The panels have been informative but because some speakers did not show there have been substitutions.

So far the best speaker was the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He was very plain spoken regarding the recent banking crisis in Nigeria and said that there are serious problems that he is addressing. I will write a fuller report when I get back.

The conference was not fully attended by all African Exchanges but a fair amount of CEOs showed up. Today there was an excellent discussion on technology in the aFrican Capital Markets. I want to consider how such developments compliment or overlap with the law. It seems to me that if technology is excellent, some legal infrastructure may be forgone without losing confidence in the integrity of what is being done...whatever it is...but in my mind market integrity.