Concord Times (Freetown)

11 February 2013

Sierra Leone: Mr. President, Let's Improve the Sierra Leone Stock Exchange

opinion

"The time for politics is over, let's continue the path of economic development now". I extracted this excerpt from your swearing-in speech at State House, to lay credence on the urgent need to move the country forward, as there are a bundle of tasks ahead. In my previous commentaries, nothing is utterly urgent in moving the country forward, economically, as the manufacturing industries. It will delight you to see a vibrant manufacturing industrial sector booming, producing basic utility goods in the country. Prices of goods produced locally in the country will be reduced, coupled with the net-multiplier effects on youth employment you have been craving for in virtually all your past speeches.

For a successful industrial take off, the Sierra Leone Stock Exchange needs to be bolstered and strengthened. I understand the Stock Exchange is at its infant stage and very few companies float shares on its stock market. The Stock Exchange is the capital market where investors trade their shares in a one-stop-shop. The advantage of having a locally vibrant stock market is the domestic mobilization of internal capital, through trading of shares in an open floor. Another advantage is that it encourages Sierra Leonean entrepreneurs to become captains of industries, whereby shares traded in the stock exchange reap dividends at the end of designated periods.

Industrial giants like the African Minerals, London Mining, Cape Lambert, coupled with the new industries like Vita Foam, Dangote and a few others will float their shares in the local stock market. The beauty of this postulation is that these companies will properly get sound Sierra Leonean foothold, with less emphasis on foreign stock markets. A situation where, for instance, African Minerals stock outlook in Sierra Leonean iron ore industries is capitulated in the London Stock Exchange is not healthy for the Sierra Leonean economy.Mr. President, nothing more beneficial, especially to your "Agenda for Prosperity", than the development of Sierra Leonean share capital in manufacturing industries in the country. When Sierra Leoneans buy-up shares in industries, it beefs up their economic prowess and ultimately may lead to the evolution of many captains of industries in the economy. A situation where, for instance, there is only 1% Sierra Leonean share capital in Vita Foam Industries, is certainly not healthy for Sierra Leonean economy.

Mr. President, Sir, for the "Agenda for Prosperity" to be on a sound footing, there is an urgent need to take a hard look on improving the Sierra Leone Stock Exchange. It has no fully-functional staff and no technically-equipped building on its own. A Stock Exchange in other West African countries is a fully-staffed building with trading floors, peopled with men and women who are technically proficient on stock-related issues. The building is electronically-equipped with computerized market trends, with charts score-point board, displayed openly on the floors of the market.

I suggest a more vibrant Stock Exchange, with a functional staff and technically-equipped building. This is the foundation base for foreign investment. More importantly, it will be beneficial to the country and your vision for a strong private-sector will be achieved. With politics over, I expect people will now focus more energy on the economy, and less on politics.

Mr. President, Sir, the future is bright as foreign investments will continue to flow into the country as a result of the just-concluded elections that have received international accolades and encomiums. I see a quick turning around of the economy with a visionary leadership and quite frankly, you can achieve it with the political zest I always portray in you. Let's commence the industrial journey now, with a serious look at the compelling need for the strengthening of the Stock Exchange, the pillar for a successful industrial take-off.

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