BY James Ume
The Director General of Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr Mounir Gwarzo, in the year 2015, assumed the leadership of the Africa Middle East Regional Committee (AMERC) of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). Relying on his wealth of experience acquired over the years in the art and science of securities management, he has proved by his performance that he is an innovative thinker that has the dexterity to provide solutions to challenges. And this has continued to achieve milestones that have further put in bright lights the image of the Commission and indeed Nigeria, as a leading light in the global securities regulatory firmament.
In his capacity as the current chairman of the Regional Committee, SEC Nigeria has been at the vanguard of expanding the frontiers of the African and Middle Eastern capital markets while also boosting the standing of the regional bloc in the comity of nations. An important stride was first the adoption of Arabic as an official language of IOSCO, in addition to the original four languages comprising English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. While these were the inaugural set of languages of IOSCO since its days as the Inter- American Regional Organisation which started in 1974, the feat is considered ground breaking given that this will be the first time an additional language will be added to the set. The action has in turn further proven IOSCO as a truly globally inclusive community and also give a boost to the interest, commitment and participation of Arabic speaking members who constitute a large percentage of the members from the Region.
In the area of membership mobilisation, the Organisation has achieved considerable increase in the number of new entrants which include Kuwait, Iran, Cameroon, Namibia, Lebanon, Swaziland, an amalgam of Central African countries (COSUMAF) and a host of other jurisdictions. On the technical front, Gwarzo has provided quality leadership that has succeeded in redirecting the focus of the Committee from a purely administrative prism where energy is dissipated on country reports and other routine issues to more technically relevant discourses. This in turn has eventually led to the establishment of its first ever working group. The Group, saddled with the task of assessing the state of listings in Africa and the Middle East, is expected to articulate ways of attracting listings and investments to the Region in order to further accentuate market development and economic growth within the geographical space. While it presented its action plan for approval at the last AMERC meeting which held on the sidelines of the 42nd IOSCO Annual Conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica recently, the technical Working Group, led by the Ag. Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Ghana, is expected to present its report at the next AMERC meeting scheduled for the first quarter of 2018 in Morocco.
The region, under the leadership of Mr. Gwarzo has also improved its membership qualification as internationally conforming jurisdictions. As additional milestones, they have earned for the collective leadership an unprecedented respect and acceptability at the just concluded meeting in Jamaica with not less than five members from the region signing the Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMoU), which is a tool for regulatory cooperation and exchange of information among members. The members included FSRA Abu Dhabi, CMC Angola, CMA Kuwait, FCRA Qatar and CMA Uganda. The MMoU serves as a stamp of quality for members who must pass through a rigorous process of assessment to qualify. Nigeria qualified in 2005. In addition, and also in a bid to open up the African and Middle East markets to the world as worthy investment havens, the leadership of AMERC fought and succeeded in winning for the Securities and Commodities Authority, UAE, the hosting rights for the 45th IOSCO Annual Conference holding in the momentous year 2020.
In view of the great importance attached by IOSCO to capacity building for securities regulatory personnel, the AMERC had seized the opportunity of the regional capacity building hubs initiative to ensure that Securities and Commodities Authority, UAE will host the second regional hub only after Malaysia which was inaugurated a few months back. While we expect work to begin on the hub anytime soon, it is, similarly, expected to bring closer to the doorsteps of regional members’ capacity building programmes, as may be relevant for the region in the nearest future. AMERC is also collaborating with Harvard University and African Development Bank to craft a target training programme for senior officials of member authorities. This is with the aim of rendering available and affordable service to the region.
In view of the series of landmark achievements of the Committee in the recent past, members have expressed continued support for the leadership of the Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria and a stronger commitment to the work of the Committee in particular and IOSCO at large.
IOSCO, an international association of organisations that regulate the world’s securities and futures markets, has members from over 100 different countries, who regulate more than 95 per cent of the world’s securities market. It is globally recognised as the body that sets international standards which are considered the best practices in securities market regulation. AMERC, on the other hand, is one of the four regional committees comprising members from Africa and the Middle East. Others are Asia Pacific, European and Inter-America Regional Committees.
– Ume can be reached through [email protected]