Last week, the who’s who of the Ethiopian business community congregated in the UNECA conference hall discussing an issue which is dear to their heart: the establishment of a stock market in Ethiopia. Although the discussion has been going on for past 20 years the authorities are yet to pay attention to it. Nevertheless, some of the papers and arguments also showed how the economy is now ripe for an organized exchange platform and that it is completely feasible for the country to operate one. Meanwhile, how the fear of the unknown is still holding the authorities back, writes Asrat Seyoum.
An ordinary discussion forum organized by the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association in Ghion Hotel back in 1998 was rare in attracting the interest of the business community in the capital. The meeting hall was utterly packed without a single chair left unoccupied. In fact, few of the participants were even willing to attend the proceedings from their standing position at the back. The subject of discussion was the prospect of capital market in Ethiopia; and the guest speaker was none other than Ermias Amelga, the embattled CEO and found of Access Real Estate, a developer currently under scrutiny for failure to deliver housing units for its customers.
With a stellar career as an investment banker in the US, Ermias, who decided to resettle in Ethiopia two years earlier, took the podium to share his view on the prospect of a capital market in the country. Asserting that Ethiopia was in fact the second country next to Egypt to operate an organized stock exchange in Africa, Ermias told the business community that operating a stock exchange is a lot easier than it is made out to be in Ethiopia.