Monday, December 17, 2012

Post-Cairo ASEA 2012 thoughts

The African Stock Exchange Association (ASEA) conference in Cairo was more intimate in many ways because of the threat of violence in Cairo. The Egyptian Stock Exchange (EGX) did an amazing job organizing and running the show. Many of the presenters were Egyptian and spoke passionately about what was happening literally a few blocks away at Tahrir Square. It really was pretty amazing to be there and engage in discussions about what was happening  and try to understand the various perspectives. Newspapers were delivered twice a day directly to our tables which was impressive. (If only individuals in Orange County California read that much things might improve here.) In addition to the politics outside in Cairo, there was the usual politics of African Stock Exchanges inside.

We heard presentations from the African Development Bank and the World Federation of Exchanges. Many speakers failed to show at the conference so Exchange Officials stepped in to fill in spots. This actually worked out well and contributed to the intimate feel of the discussions.

There was still plenty of discussion of a pan-African Exchange and the concept that economies of scale would address liquidity issues. This only seemed to underscore more the very real sense that an Exchange has a national identity. Any economies of scale must allow that identity to remain. Creative order-routing and cross-listing were mentioned and currently do and can address liquidity issues on the continent.

Another interesting inclusion at the conference was Asian exchanges. This was an excellent idea by conference organizers. The panel touched on common interests and goals and served to begin a dialogue which is how a journey of a 1000 miles is accomplished. See below:  

Panel 7: Exploring Cooperation Opportunities among African and Asian Exchanges

Panel Moderator: Geoff Rothschild, Head of Government & International Affairs, Johannesburg Stock Exchange JSE 
1. Oscar N. Onyema, CEO, Nigeria Stock Exchange 
2. Mustafa Baltac─▒, Secretary General of Federation of Euro Asian Exchanges (FEAS) & Vice Chairman of Istanbul Menkul Kiymetler Borsasi (IMKB) 
3. Aftab Ahmad Ch, Managing Director & CEO Lahore Stock Exchange (LSE) & Secretary General of the South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE) 

I was very excited to connect with a lawyer working at the Nepal Stock Exchange and have already begun to think of papers to pursue with her. 

My main take-away was that the venue was a perfect back-drop to what proved to be a valuable conference and a great opportunity to meet and hear from knowledgeable experts who regulate, run and advise exchanges in Africa.    

Conferences are what they are in some respect and you make of them what you can. I found this one valuable for the discussion and the professionals that I met.

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