Africa Exchange Holdings yesterday formally unveiled the East Africa Exchange (EAX) at a major regional integration summit in Kigali.
The regional exchange was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, who was in the Rwandan capital to attend the 6th Northern Corridor Integration
Projects Summit alongside his counterparts from Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan; and later take part in celebrations to mark Rwanda's 20th Liberation
Besides the four Heads of State and other leaders from around the region, the launch was also attended by the three principal investors in EAX and Board chairperson, Dr Jendayi Frazer.
The EAX is a commodity exchange that aims to increase regional market efficiency and give the growing population, particularly smallholder farmers, better access to commercial markets.
"The EAX will link small-scale farmers in the East African community (EAC) to agricultural and financial markets so they can get competitive pricing for crops and access to finance.
"EAX will use NASDAQ's OMX X-Stream trading platform for electronic trading and warehouse receipts so farmers can deposit their produce into EAX certified warehouses and access its services," according to an EAX statement sent to The New Times following the formal launch.
Established by Tony O. Elumelu, CON, of Heirs Holdings, Nicolas Berggruen of Berggruen Holdings, Dr. Jendayi Frazer of 50 Ventures and Rwandan investment company Ngali Holdings, the EAX provides opportunities for faster and more inclusive African economic growth through intra-African trade previously unseen on this scale in the region. "More regional trade will increase employment, accommodate a higher number of market participants and drive greater scale in terms of agricultural financing."
"The EAX showcases our desire to identify far reaching investment opportunities, while ensuring that most of the value-adding aspects of Africa's resource wealth stay on our continent. Africa must move toward greater self-sufficiency with private investment and strategic partnerships, just as we have done at EAX through our partnership with NASDAQ," the statement quotes Elumelu as saying at the launch.
Nicolas Berggruen said EAX is complementing the EAC's goal of regional economic integration, and putting in place a world-class exchange to create a globally competitive market for Africa's commodities, the statement added.
Dr Jendayi Frazer, formerly the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said "the EAX has the capacity to facilitate cross-border trading of commodities within the EAC, providing a central marketplace, connecting buyers and sellers throughout the region. To be a true regional exchange we are also opening up for regional investors so we can become East-African owned."
Irene Ndikumwenayo, Chief Financial Officer, Ngali Holdings, an EAX board member and EAX shareholder, "echoed the importance of the regional nature of the exchange". "The East African region is the fastest growing bloc in Africa. It only makes sense for local companies to support the initiative and to promote trade and economic growth in our region," he said.
In 2013, EAX became the first regional exchange to link smallholder farmers to agricultural and financial markets with competitive pricing.
The East Africa Exchange is a regional commodity exchange established to link smallholder farmers to agricultural and financial markets, to secure competitive prices for their products, and to facilitate access to financial opportunities. EAX's goal is to facilitate trade across all five East African Community member states. EAX is wholly owned by Africa Exchange Holdings, Ltd (AFEX).
EAX in Rwanda is owned by local investment company Ngali Holdings.