2020 AFEX Milestones: Impact, Wins and Other Stories

by Abimbola Otepola, Corporate Communications Analyst AFEX

Can you remember a year more life-changing than 2020?

The year was nothing short of a continuous flurry of world-shifting events in all sectors from politics, to education, to health, and agriculture.

Oil prices plunged, millions of dollars were lost in businesses, trades marched to a halt, lives were lost, and there was a slow global economic growth. In the agriculture landscape, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains and the economic recession witnessed in the last quarter of the year also affected the growth in the sector.

While it’s easy to look back on 2020 and remember the challenges we encountered, reflecting on the good things that happened is also important. At AFEX, we had a pretty significant year, accomplishing several important goals both for ourselves and the commodities ecosystem in Nigeria at large.

We’ve rounded up some of the year’s most significant milestones for our 2020 at AFEX. Stick with us as we look at our 2020 year-in-review.

In January, AFEX launched the first-ever inclusive online trading platform in Nigeria that offers the public an opportunity to trade in commodity instruments. Shortly before the realities of the pandemic hit in March, we had a grand launch that witnessed industry experts, key stakeholders in the financial markets, and our many, many friends at AFEX come together to celebrate.

The ComX app has now grown to over 10,000 registered users; affording investors a great experience to learn about alternative investment opportunities, trade at an affordable entry price point and diversify their investment portfolios. With over 10 listed commodity-backed instruments, users have access to hedge against inflation and deliver impact through their activities in the market.

In 2020, AFEX also formalized some major partnerships in the capital market space like the signing of an MoU with FMDQ Holdings PLC. With this strategic partnership, the two capital market entities took on a goal of product innovation for the capital market intended to promote wealth creation that is accessible to every Nigerian in the capital market.

We also signed an MoU with Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX) to provide new market opportunities for the commodities traded on both exchanges. The scope of collaboration between the two exchanges covers several activities from knowledge sharing to commodity contract design and the listing of a Shari’ah Gold Product. In addition to this, agricultural commodities from Nigeria can find a route to international markets with the commodities being traded fairly and transparently on the exchanges.

The AFEX Input Financing Program has grown from serving 803 farmers in 2015 to 35,000 farmers in 2020.

The program is an initiative that unlocks financing from retail and institutional sources for the production activities of smallholder farmers. Created to align with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 8 and 12; no poverty, zero hunger and economic growth, the program has scaled due to AFEX’s proprietary advanced technology, expanded outreach and warehouse infrastructure, and product innovation.

A defining moment for the Exchange in 2020 was ringing the bell with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to promote investors’ education and protection in Nigeria. This was a firm commitment by the two parties to make financial literacy of the commodities exchange market a top priority. We believe in building a strong commodities ecosystem that leaves no one behind and AFEX is intensifying efforts towards that through a robust education campaign that includes training, webinars, digitally learning materials amongst others.

With COVID-19 hitting the world and forcing the country into a lockdown, we switched easily to Work From Home (WFH) and WEBINARS became the new normal. Which meant that our knowledge sharing in various capacities intensified through online platforms. One of our favourite engagements was the panel we hosted alongside SAFIN and AGRA for the 2020 AGRF Virtual Summit. We brought together a brilliant and experienced panel to talk on the topic of “Unlocking Sustainable Financing for Africa’s Food Systems through SMEs”.

Also in line with our goal to share knowledge and data on the commodities market, we released some special reports during the year including COVID-19 and Commodities: Impact, Outlook and Recommendations, The Kaduna State in Focus Report and Commodity Focus on Maize: the Goldmine of Feedgrains.

In less than a year from its launch date, ComX was awarded the AppsAfrica Award in the Agritech & FoodTech category.

This award celebrates the innovation and technological prowess shaping our ecosystems and was a nod to the potential of ComX to orchestrate a massive step forward in the commodities market in Nigeria by attracting significant investment to the sector and introducing innovations that will create a new world of financial products, market education, operational risks, and wealth opportunities for everyone.

In 2020, we accelerated actions to revitalize cocoa production in the western regions in Nigeria. This is a long-term effort to engage the farmers in a sustainable farming approach that boost cocoa production and improve their living standards. We are excited to announce that we met our projection of aggregating 10 times the volume of cocoa set out at the beginning of the year

Following the launch of an updated version of ComX, we launched the first Exchange Traded Commodity (ETC) product listed on an Exchange in Nigeria — the Fair Trade ETC.

The Fair Trade ETC was an investment product containing soybean, maize, and sorghum, in one contract. It enables investors to enjoy a return on investment with lower risks because the Fair Trade ETC delivers the average market performance of the underlying commodities, lowering the risk an investor is exposed to when they invest in individual commodity contracts.

As we launch into the new year, we are excited to be at the forefront of unlocking financing for agriculture, de-risking the sector, and ensuring a transparent, viable commodities exchange ecosystem. We have bigger goals in 2021 and we hope you’ll come along with us.

Happy New Year!

AFEX’s infrastructure and platforms drive capital to build a trust economy in Africa’s commodity markets.