The two-day capital markets conference being held from the 10-11 February on the theme: ‘Capital Markets: Investing for Growth’ is focused on the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), which is made up of eight countries.
Government and industry leaders from across five different continents are participating in the conference to discuss the important trends, challenges, and opportunities for WAEMU’s capital markets.
Opening the conference, Mr Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the Prime Minister of Ivory Coast, underscored the importance of capital markets as major sources of investment for economic transformation and development.
He said well performing capital markets had been major drivers of support for the growth of many small and medium enterprises, and infrastructure development, among others.
However, there were challenges of shallowness of the capital markets, and domination of financial instruments with short-term maturities.
Mr Coulibaly urged the participants to use the opportunity that the conference provided to reflect on ways to spur economic growth through the adoption of innovative means to attract investors to the region.
On her part, Ms Anshula Kant, the Chief Financial Officer and Managing Director of the World Bank Group, said the conference marked a key milestone for the World Bank and the West African Economic and Monetary Union.
She said the World Bank Group understood the importance of the capital market as an effective means of mobilising savings and protecting economies from the excessive reliance on foreign donors.
It was also strategic in the drive to support poverty reduction among the vulnerable population.
Ms Kant said since its launch in 2017, the J-CAP had made enough progress in the priority countries, including financial support for SMEs and supporting climate financing through the issue of green energy bonds.
Mr Adama Coulibaly, the Ivorian Minister of Finance, said the operations of the capital market provided the opportunity to leverage investment for growth acceleration.
The conference will feature development stories from across the globe, examine their replicability and propose new partnership, investment and business opportunities for foreign and domestic stakeholders, with innovative ideas explored through dynamic public-to-private sector conversations and hands-on working groups.
The conference’s spotlight will be on the creation of a strong government bond market that would function as a gateway for corporate financing and foreign investments; and the development of equity and corporate debt markets that would offer major opportunities for WAEMU’s real estate and infrastructure sector, as well as its SMEs, and financial institutions.
Another area of attention would be the expansion and diversification of the investor base, with a focus on the mobilization of foreign investors into the onshore capital markets and the expansion of the domestic pension fund industry as a source of long-term finance and stability.
The World Bank and IFC launched the Joint Capital Markets program (“J-CAP”) initiative in mid-2017 to affirm their commitment to the development of local capital markets.
The programme mobilizes experts across the World Bank Group to unlock synergies and create systemic impact in funding strategic sectors of the economy.
J-CAP is initially focused on six target countries—Bangladesh, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, Vietnam, Indonesia —as well as the sub-region of the West African Economic & Monetary Union.