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Ethiopia - Commodity Exchange Pushes Opening Back Two Months
By MICHAEL CHEBUD
The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECEx), which was due to begin operations last week on December 12, has postponed opening for two months due to delays in installing equipment.
The exchange, which is expected to change the face of Ethiopia's grain marketing, plans to open in February. Promoters hope the ECEx will aid in alleviating food shortages and encourage the commercialisation of agriculture by facilitating transactions between producers, traders and consumers.
"Even the standardised trading pit, which is supposed to be installed in the middle of the Exchange Centre, has not been procured," a source at ECEx told Fortune.
Chaired by Eleni Gebremedhin (PhD), from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), headquartered in Washington D.C., a taskforce has been established and commissioned by the federal government to spearhead the project. Other members include representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD), the Quality and Standards Authority of Ethiopia, the Grain Trade Enterprise and Ethiopian Development and Research Institute. The taskforce reports to Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Legesse, also minister of MoARD.
Commodity exchanges, first created in Chicago, United States (US), in 1848, provide a centralised trading venue for member businesspeople. They also disseminate market information instantly, collecting statistics, publishing price quotations and setting rules and standards for trading.
ECEx is a nationwide project that will work to harmonise the commodity markets through 13 mammoth announcement boards that will be installed across the country to show prices at the Exchange centre.
However, a source at the exchange disclosed to Fortune that none of the screens have made it to the country yet. Moreover, the exchange has yet to start registering members.
"We will be launching the project registering members as high as 100," Eleni told Fortune.
Though there was a plan to officially launch registering members on December 12, it was not done. This is because the board of the Commodity Exchange Authority, overseeing the project, did not give the final approval of the draft membership rules and regulations. The board, accountable directly to the prime minister, discussed on the draft rules last week on Thursday December 13. The draft has yet to get final approval of the board.
"The process is in the final stages," Ambassador Addisalem Balema (PhD), director general of the Authority told Fortune. "Membership registration will start in the near future once the draft gets final approval."
Desalegn Jena, deputy general manager of Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, said that his union would first assess its relevance before joining the exchange as a member.
Officials at the exchange hope that consumers and producers cooperatives would be embraced in the ECEx project.
According to an official at the ECEx, a series of campaigns will be carried out to create awareness among the rural producers to get organised in cooperatives and join the Exchange.
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