By Joseph Kadiri
A year ago, The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE or The Exchange) made the bold move to activate its business continuity plan which saw the transition to remote trading in support of the fight against COVID-19. Exactly 365 days later, The Exchange continues to maintain seamless trading and business operations recording no down time, and delivering exceptional value to stakeholders.
The Exchange has remained an attractive platform for Issuers and Investors to meet their investment objectives thanks to its steady and consistent capacity building in technology, automation and digitisation of its operations over the years. It is, therefore, no surprise that The Exchange has recorded several notable achievements since it began remote trading.
The Demutualisation of NSE
The NSE made giant strides in its aspiration to demutualise in the past year of working from home and remote trading. Following regulatory approvals from the Securities and Exchange Commission and Corporate Affairs Commission, NSE announced its demutualisation earlier this month and has now embarked on its transition as Nigerian Exchange Group Plc to the ‘NGX’ era.
Impressive Market Performance
The Exchange continues to display remarkable resilience in providing stakeholders with a platform to raise capital and invest. In 2020, the market capitalisation of all securities listed on The Exchange increased to N38.5tn, representing a 49% increase from 2019. In the equities market, the NSE All Share Index delivered a return of 50% closing the year as the best performing Stock Exchange in the world according to Bloomberg. The Exchange Traded Funds market also experienced its best year yet with a 272.30% increase in market capitalization; and the bond market capitalization rose by 35.52%. In addition, over N4.03 Trillion was raised in on the NSE in 2020 and over N722 Billion has been raised already in 2021 by governments and corporates across asset classes.
Digital Resilience for Challenging Times
It is no secret that trading activities continue during normal hours, through the provisions of remote trading access via X-NET, FIX Protocol and Virtual Private Network despite restricted access to The NSE’s facilities. The Exchange has also successfully transitioned many of its physical engagements to digital events including the flagship Closing Gong Ceremony, Facts Behind the Figures series, capacity building sessions, stakeholder engagement sessions and more.
New and Upgraded Products
In line with its commitment to improve market integrity, reduce market asymmetry and improve the flow of information into the market, the NSE has upgraded several platforms and launched new ones. In 2020, NSE released an upgrade to its Data Portal, X-Data Portal; Issuers’ Platform, X-Issuer; and whistleblowing portal, X-Whistle. It also launched several new products including SentryGRC, a platform that automates back-office functions like Governance, Risk Management and Compliance; X-PO, the first end-to-end online public offerings platform in Africa; and X-Filing, a smart and easy-to-use online platform for submitting and processing securities listing applications.
Supporting the Fight Against COVID-19
As a responsible corporate citizen, The Exchange made a commitment of N100 Million to support the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria. Out of this sum, the NSE redeemed its pledge of N60 Million to the Capital Market Support Committee for COVID-19 (CMSCC) with the donation of an ambulance and Twenty-Seven Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira in cash. The balance N40million was devoted to the “Masks for All Nigerians” campaign aimed at galvanising responsible corporate citizens and individuals to donate face masks to Nigerians, especially low-income households, as well as educating the public on COVID-19 protocols. Thanks to the support of its employees and the contributions from 13 other companies, the NSE donated 609,490 masks to this cause.
Ultimately, the NSE has made significant progress in building a digital ecosystem that is serving stakeholders excellently in these unprecedented times. Without the foresight of Management and the dogged implementation of many of its initiatives, the Nigerian capital market would have suffered major disruptions with local and global stakeholders incurring major losses. Rather, the market continues to enjoy seamless operations with continuous trading, frequent stakeholder engagement, market deepening activities, and all other functions fully activated.