The pandemic has brought many changes to the way we work. In your view, what changes are here to stay that will shape the workplace of the future?
This past year has been far from an ordinary one for our regional market. According to the experts, it has been the worst year in decades for many countries because of the pandemic, which has killed more than 2 million souls globally.
We were not expecting a crisis of this nature. The pandemic brought many changes, from greater flexibility in working times and conditions to high reliance on digital supports.
In this regard, I have to say that we have been able to tackle this crisis smoothly because of our experience dealing with a number of political and social crises in our subregion. Over the years, BRVM has developed a strong Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that enables remote and safe access to the trading platforms for the brokers and key staff members of the Exchange (e.g. operations, IT and surveillance).
As a key institution in the WAEMU region, the BRVM sensitized its employees and community to the precautionary measures stipulated by the World Health Organization and the national governments regarding the observance of hygiene and social distancing, such compulsory use of hydro-alcoholic gel; systematic temperature check on anyone entering our offices; mandatory wearing of masks; and limitations on in-person meetings.
These are the major changes that we see staying around in 2022 and beyond. It’s hard to predict exactly what 2022 will look like -- will vaccines be efficient? Will work life still look pretty much the same? -- but we hope that the situation will improve.
What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for your exchange in the year ahead?
Around the world, most organizations made a quick transition to a remote workforce with a more intense focus on engaging with their stakeholders through digital channels.
However, the digital response to the COVID-19 crisis has also created new security vulnerabilities, and particularly the greater exposure to cyber attacks and data protection.
It is a real challenge that we will have to face over the next years.
Also there is another difficulty that is not related to companies themselves: The quality of the internet connections in the WAEMU countries (bandwidth, slowness, etc.).
In term of opportunities, the use of digital tools reduces the cost of operations of a number of activities and has the ability to reach a wide audience, for marketing purposes for example. There is another point we sometimes forget but seems very key to me: Digitalisation increases the measurement of the actions we take. On the same note, recently the BRVM recorded a major technological development: Online Trading. This innovation enables investors to transmit orders from their computers, as well as devices such as mobile phones and tablets, to BRVM’s trading system
, after the order has transited a broker’s platform for appropriate automatic checks.
This technological development strengthens the position of the BRVM among other innovative stock exchanges and represents a good opportunity to improve market liquidity; reduce order execution times; and increase the participation of retail investors.
What was your most memorable moment this year as a leader?
So far, 2021 has not been as chaotic as expected, especially for African markets that had experienced good performances. For example, BRVM’s equities indices have experienced a sharp rebound from their level at the end of year 2020. However, the Omicron variant appears to be spreading across the globe and creating new uncertainties.
On a more personal note, I feel delighted to have celebrated few days ago the 25th anniversary of the BRVM, which is an economic, political, institutional and technical success.
What are three key industry themes you will be focused on in 2022?
The resilience demonstrated by our stock exchange since the inception of the COVID-19 crisis has once again highlighted the importance of human resources in an organisation of this scale. Thus it seems important, on one hand, to attract the best talent
s in order to ensure efficiency in our organisation.
On the other hand, it seems essential to create innovative, highly technological and digital products and services that are in line with the investment needs of regional and international investors. This approach will undoubtedly allow us to meet, in a more specific way, the financing needs of companies, while promoting the attraction to the BRVM's listing of new companies, including SMEs, from branches of activity going beyond traditional sectors. For example, in 2022, BRVM must increase its asset class offerings in light of the emergence of new categories of issuers and investors concerned about the challenges of sustainability, climate change, and corporate social responsibility.
Among the challenges facing the BRVM is the lack of awareness of stock investing. The stock market culture in the WAEMU region has not reached the expected level. As a response to this challenge, we have decided to launch a BRVM Web TV to strengthen the dissemination of information and stock market education among the people. The Web TV will be launched in the course of next year.
Tell us one thing that will change in 2022 and one thing that won’t?
As our countries continue to suffer from the impacts of the COVID-19 and African leaders mobilize resources to reboot economies, the continent requires strong financial platforms that are able to provide long-
I think that capital needs for both private and public entities will dramatically increase as we truly enter the post-Covid era. The measures taken by the WAEMU governments to mitigate the virus deterred states from investing in public infrastructures. The time has come for governments to change the focus of their spending to large-
On the opposite, something that I am sure that will not change in the years ahead is the permanent threat of experiencing a new crisis. Traditionally, we have been used to activate Business Continuity Plans in times of crisis but I am afraid to say that will be old-fashioned now. We navigate in a new era of uncertainties, therefore we should accept that we must live in this new world if we want to have a chance to survive.
The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.