The Nigerian Stock Exchange has witnessed its first noticeable recovery in months following last week’s announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that after six weeks with no new cases the country is officially free of the deadly Ebola virus.
Prior to the announcement, trading on the bourse had been taking a turn for the worse, with the all-share index (ASI) falling from 41,210 on to 38, 197 in just two weeks in the largest fall since the first quarter, but in a matter of days its value has since returned to 39,087.
The response should serve as a cautionary lesson against fear-mongering in the markets and hopefully shore up confidence in the West African economies yet to be affected by the virus.
“This is a spectacular success story,” WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz announced in Abuja. “It shows that Ebola can be contained, but we must be clear that we have only won a battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.”
In a tempestuous reflection of the real risk, the Nigerian bourse ASI actually hit its low point of 37, 136 on 19th March, several months into the remote Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, before subsequently rising to a 2014 high of 43,030 on 16th July.
The announcement of the first case in Lagos then triggered a decline, though on a gentler trajectory than in the first quarter, before quickening its descent from the 1st October.
There is no clear barometer of fear for the similarly Ebola-free Senegal, which unfortunately lacks its own stock exchange and has only a single company represented through the Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres (BRVM) based in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.
Likewise it will be difficult to assess how investors react to the latest announcement of an Ebola patient in Mali, which while a signatory to the BRVM, lacks equity representation.
Nigeria, however, will continue to celebrate, and hopefully remember the sacrifice of Dr Stella Ameyo Adadevoh and her team, who identified Partick Sawyer as an Ebola patient and prevented him from leaving the hospital at the ultimate cost of their lives.
Nigeria’s state of medical preparation was underwhelming, so these few likely saved many.