By some measures, it’s been the least profitable year for me so far in my adventures on the Abidjan-based West African stock exchange (BRVM). Still, the last few days have seen a surge, and after a year hovering around 10% annual growth, I finish the year 18.6% up (in XOF terms). Long-term blog readers may remember that I don’t do any trading myself, I just leave the bank to manage. Not much compared to 2013’s 31.4% or 2012’s 27.2% but pretty respectable none the less. This is a calculation of the overall growth of capital invested over the year and a fair bit this year was only invested in the last third. My portfolio got a lot wider, even to the point where my fund manager invested in the local cigarette company, which is specifically against the instructions on the account. She fold a few days later, though the cost of the mistake was born by me.
Anyway, I only keep this annual blog strand going to show outsiders that there seem to be gains to be made on African stock markets, and to show Ivorians that there are alternatives to the too-good-to-be-true investment project that their cousin with no entrepreneurial experience is trumpeting. Shares can of course go up as well as down, and the big winners of five years ago, cash crop exporters, have been hit hard over the past two years with falling world rubber and palm oil prices.
The BRVM does have the added plus of being in the CFA Franc, pegged to the euro at a rate unchanged in twenty years, so that offers a good deal more stability than other exchanges on the continent. Imagine if you’d had shares in Ghana’s cedis over the past year! Nevertheless this year has witnessed a considerable decline in the euro (and hence the CFA): a million CFA francs (XOF) 12 months ago was worth (roughly) in dollar/pound terms $2,082 / £1,267, and today would get $1,859 / £1,196. And, so the UK Sterling value of my investment has risen only 9% over the year.