Launch of data portal gives ZSE edge

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The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) will be moving to a fully electronic communications platform, following the launch of its updated online data portal on Tuesday, according to acting CEO Martin Matanda.

— Staff Writer.

The ZSE launched the data portal as part of is modernisation strategy using international best practice technology and compliance standards. The data portal serves as a comprehensive information platform and will enable the ZSE to communicate effectively with all its stakeholders, providing quality and relevance not only for the local market, but for regional and international investors.

“Naturally, following on from creating an environment where there is immediate and universal access to investor information … the ZSE is pursuing a bigger picture than just efficient information dissemination,” Matanda said.

The ZSE has released the “beta version” of the portal, which means it expects to evolve it over time according to the needs of the market, as well as the ZSE’s internal needs. It will complement other automation systems once they are in place.

Congratulating the ZSE on this milestone, Finance minister Tendai Biti said: “The ZSE has come of age and it is moving in the right direction with this new functional data portal. It creates a platform for international investors to obtain the latest information on investment opportunities in Zimbabwe, and we are in effect, promoting and branding Zimbabwe properly as an attractive investment destination. There is now more transparency than ever before and stakeholders’ information requirements are being met.”

Talking to stakeholders and media at the launch, the ZSE chairperson, Eve Gadzikwa, said the portal is part of the on-going brand re-building which not only has the endorsement of the regulatory body, the Securities Exchange Commission of ZImbabwe (SECz), but the government has on several occasions expressed its desire to see the ZSE modernise.

“Most people are aware of the much-talked about automation projects and the data portal will complement the modernisation efforts through improving the visibility of the exchange and, therefore, attract capital,” Gadzikwa explained.

“The ZSE recognises the role of the internet in investor relations and, as part of our capacity building exercise, we are now able to respond to the needs of stakeholders who have been looking for a mechanism to obtain almost real-time information at the click of a button. Even though our organisation is a small institution, we are adopting a different approach in data dissemination which has meant a significant input into data collection, implementing functionality that ensures we achieve our objectives.”

Zimbabwe has emerged from hyperinflation and it was important for the ZSE to ensure that the investment opportunities in Zimbabwe were understood.

“For the ZSE to promote informed investment decisions, investors need to have full and immediate information and this data portal enables everyone to access any and all information on listed companies. In other markets, this information is either sold or is limited in terms of its availability to retail investors,” she said.

As an example of its commitments to providing information, the ZSE had teamed up with www.africanfinancials.com, Africa’s largest portal of online annual reports, to ensure that every annual report was available for viewing and downloadable online immediately after its release. This was not something done in other markets and compared with other data portal sites in Africa this puts ZSE a notch above the rest.

“Certainly, from a cost perspective, we can do away with hard copy communications, which will save listed companies a significant amount of money and increase efficiency.

“On our side is international online investor relations precedent and best practice, high internet penetration in Zimbabwe, so the pillars are there and it is a case of us getting online experience and taking it from there,” said Gadzikwa.

SECz CEO, Tafadzwa Chinamo, said he was impressed that the ZSE was now in control of its information and in charge of communicating relevant data to its stakeholders.

“We can see that the necessary steps have been taken to ensure the ZSE’s online information dissemination is of a high standard and as a regulatory body, we look forward to the continued progress the exchange will undoubtedly make in disseminating information timeously to all its stakeholders,” said Chinamo.

Tino Kambasha, executive director of Imara Edwards Securities (Pvt) Ltd concurred that the portal would be extremely useful to global investors.

“Imara supports this initiative as part of the modernisation process undertaken by the ZSE, confident that this is an important ingredient to increasing activity in our market,” Kambasha said.

He lauded the major features, which include centralised distribution of information for all listed companies, including nature of business, key decision-makers, financial performance and contact details. The portal also incorporates comprehensive data on market performance, including real time price information, trading trends and sectoral comparative information as well as graphing ability.

Matanda believed the role of social media in the ZSE’s new initiative was critical and Twitter and Facebook were being used to interact with all stakeholders, enabling the ZSE to communicate and receive feedback from anywhere in the world as a result of immediate information dissemination.

“Because we showcase listed companies and their brands comprehensively, they will have the benefit of additional exposure to the outside world”, said Matanda.

“Many corporate websites that employ social media have information that is out of date or have negative comments posted on them. In that regard, the ZSE board has adopted a philosophy of engaging stakeholders online in accordance with a disclosure and social media policy, which can be viewed online; so how we relate to our stakeholders is transparent,” he said.

Matanda said while the exchange was new to this, it would learn from it so the ZSE’s disclosure policy was expected to evolve according to its experiences.

“There are established ways of dealing with insulting or negative comments, but these disadvantages are far eclipsed by the advantages, and as we pursue this initiative there is increased focus on the communication function at the ZSE to ensure stakeholder satisfaction,” he said.

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