The total equity market value of all companies traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange is about $50 billion (about N20 trillion naira). There are 168 of those firms but four companies account for two-thirds of the value, Nairametrics new data shows. Those firms command 65% of the total cap. Those firms are Dangote Cement, MTN Nigeria, Airtel Africa and BUA Cement. Recently, these four firms have been doing spectacularly well in the exchange, creating the illusion that NSE is rocking it. But in reality, nothing much is happening in most of the other entities.
Now, the big question: in the old great Nigeria, we got Unilever, Coca Cola, Nestle, etc to list on our exchange, is there any possibility that Nigeria can get the Unilevers, Nestles, etc of this era to list? Those new era companies are Google, Microsoft, etc which do business in Nigeria.
It sounds crazy and if it does, it shows how our world has changed by technology. Indeed, no one expects it to happen, but that does not mean that it is not the right thing to do. The presence of MTNN and Airtel Africa have improved the local bourse – and we need to keep pushing to expand the options by getting these great tech firms to list in Lagos.
Kenya is pushing a legislation that would require global digital and web companies to offer a good percentage of their local subsidiaries to nationals or Kenyan-native companies if they want to operate in Kenya. For example, 30% of Facebook Kenya would have to be owned by Kenyans or Kenyan companies. This makes sense if you believe that the wealth of the future will go through digital and web. My only addition is this: do not make 30% of Facebook Kenya available to the few connected in Kenya, push it to trade in the Kenyan bourse! That way everyone will benefit.
This is the biggest deal in the evolution of the African tech systems since Bill Gates pioneered, through Windows and Intel/IBM chips, personal computing in ways anyone could participate. Yes, foreign companies planning to do business in the Kenyan ICT sector must be required to surrender 30% shareholding to Kenyans, corporates or individuals. This new ordinance is captured in the National Information Communications and Technology Policy Guidelines 2020, which was published last week, spelling out new regulatory mandates for players in the ICT sector: “It is the policy that only companies with at least 30 per cent substantive Kenyan ownership, either corporate or individual, will be licensed to provide ICT services.”
Here is the deal: Google Nigeria, Facebook Nigeria, and Microsoft Nigeria must emulate Nestle, Unilever, etc and list in Nigeria. They are the industrial (yes, knowledge) powers of the 21st century and Nigeria needs them available for all. Just as we got the old players to do the needful, Nigeria should get these companies’ subsidiaries to list locally across key African exchanges. People, it is time!---
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