Despite disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic, financial markets in Africa are proving robust with innovators such as South Africa and Mauritius leading the way.
This is according to the 2020 edition of the Absa Africa Financial Markets Index. Now in its fourth year of publication, the Index presents a wide-ranging view of progress across the African continent and this year’s edition has been expanded to include three new countries; Eswatini, Lesotho and Malawi, to raise the total country count to 23.
Independently produced by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), the Index records the openness and accessibility of financial markets across the continent. It is the premier indicator of the stage of maturity of Africa’s financial markets, and serves as a guide for governments to put the necessary infrastructure in place to deepen and improve the markets in order for Africa to attract its fair share of global investments.
George Asante, head of global markets for regional operations at Absa Corporate and Investment Banking, says 2020 has been an important year for demonstrating the growing resilience of Africa’s financial markets.
Reflecting on the current state of the global markets, Asante says: “For the greater part of 2020, Africa has been pre-occupied by the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on health and economic outlook.
“However, going forward the importance of continuing to develop its financial markets is going to be greater as the continent looks to attract investment to re-accelerate economic growth.”
At the inaugural launch in 2017, just three countries scored above the index’s halfway point of 50; in 2020 that figure has jumped to 11, reflecting the solid gains made across the continent in building efficient financial markets.
South Africa and Mauritius retain the top spots, performing well on most pillars. South Africa maintains a sizeable lead because of its deep financial markets while, for Mauritius, it has been the growing capacity of local investors that has kept it near the top. Nigeria, Botswana and Namibia round off the top five.
The countries whose scores improved the most from last year are Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco and Seychelles. Firmer rules enforcing close-out netting boosted Ghana’s and Nigeria’s standing. Improving business environments in Morocco and Seychelles earned them points.
Charles Russon, chief executive of Absa Corporate and Investment Banking believes that the Index is an important contributor toward providing transparency and encouraging investment to support Africa’s growth.
“Since its inception, the Index has played a crucial role in informing the decisions of policymakers, investors and regulators across the continent by identifying areas for improvement and development on the region’s financial markets,” says Russon. “Data included in the Index provides important insights for all stakeholders and supports informed decisions about the development of financial markets.
“As an organisation with deep pan-African ties, we are passionate about driving progress in order to build the strongest possible financial markets that can aid the recovery across Africa from the impact of the global pandemic.”