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October 17, 2010

Mauritius launches exchange for African commodities

by Jean Paul Arouff

A commodities and currency exchange will go live in Mauritius on October 18 offering a local platform for investors worldwide eyeing Africa's rich resources.

Commodity-hungry economies such as China are increasingly eyeing investment opportunities in Africa.

'Mauritius is the gateway to Africa. We feel that in the next 30 to 40 years Africa will play a very important role in the financial life of the globe,' said Venkat Chary, chairman of the exchange, known as the Global Board of Trade (GBOT).

The exchange will offer Mauritius rupee/U.S. dollar, dollar/rand, euro/dollar, British pound/dollar and Japanese yen/dollar pairings.

'We are going to begin small and then expand the array of commodities and speed up the ramping-up process, which works very successfully with the MCX in India,' Chary said.

Mauritius is one of Africa's best performing economies, politically stable with a highly-educated workforce and in a time zone that allows daytime business with Asia and America.

Chary said GBOT would at a later stage offer derivatives.

'It can be stock futures, index futures and so on. So many things can be done now,' he said, but added easy liquidity would determine the exchange's success. If you come to me at 11 a.m as a buyer and if I am going to reply to you at 3.30 p.m as a seller, that's not a good market. A good market is where every second there are exchanges. That is the kind of liquid exchanges that we would like to set up,' he said.

Joseph Bosco, GBOT's managing director and chief executive, said the exchange would start with twelve brokers.

It would also be looking at opportunities in Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Egypt, but did not view other exchanges in the region as rivals, he said.

'Many countries have got three to four exchanges,' he said.


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