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World Bank J-CAP capital markets conference highlights reforms

Participants at the World Bank J-CAP conference in Abidjan, Ivory Coast ended their meeting on Tuesday, emphasising the need to improve regional financial market pricing, enhance financial education of the citizenry and to broaden the investor base as well as diversify financial products.

The exchanges also expressed the need to adapt market infrastructures to international systems for direct access to foreign investors, the provision of English language information and the implementation of tax incentives for both issuers and investors.

A communique read at the end of the conference by Mr Mamadou Ndiaye, President of the Regional Council of Public Savings and Financial Markets, emphasised the need for reforms to make the financial markets attractive to become effective means of financing development in the countries.

The conference, which was organised around 14 sessions, agreed on the need to take steps to ease regulatory constraints on pension funds and insurance companies in terms of investment.

There is also the need to promote bond issues and to pool pension funds to facilitate long-term financing while Fintech should be leveraged to push growth and financial intermediation to increase the savings rate and increase investment.

With regard to investment funds, it was proposed that an appropriate and favourable regulatory framework be adopted and accompanied by incentives.

 It will also be necessary to develop processes dedicated and adapted to the financial education of investors, the extension of stock market culture through banks and insurance companies in order to reach more people.

Regarding the development of a culture of credit risk, the exchanges were held around the issue of transparency and governance in particular of SMEs in the context of their financing through the financial market and financial education pre-development of the risk culture.

The key issue of financial ratings also emerged in order to reduce information asymmetry and allow the market to be attractive beyond its borders.

There was also a focus on the real estate sector with a call to encourage players to develop new instruments, including the use of green finance as a source of real estate financing.

The meeting also stressed the need for financial communication, transparency and governance in order to improve the liquidity of the market and to raise awareness of SMEs in the region.

In addition, it was proposed to raise awareness among states about using the regional financial market in the context of the privatization of public companies.

 Mr Ndiaye said the conference in general had allowed participants to measure the significant progress that had been made, adding, however, that much more needed to be accomplished.

On his part, Mr Jean Pierre Lacombe, Director for J-CAP, World Bank Group, stressed the need to fast track the reform process to ensure that capital markets support sustainable development.

He said the J-CAP, which is a merger of efforts, was bearing fruit and called for the demonstration of innovative products with long-term maturities.

The two-day capital markets conference held from February 10-11 on the theme: ‘Capital Markets: Investing for Growth’ was 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 participated in the conference to discuss the most important trends, challenges, and opportunities for WAEMU’s capital markets. GNA

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