Zimbabwe Share Trading Surges, Surpassing Kenya

Daily transactions have increased from $50,000 in March as foreign investors return, making the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange the third-biggest in sub-Saharan Africa by trading value, according to the Moscow-based brokerage with offices in Africa.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono ordered the shutdown of the exchange in November, alleging some traders were engaged in fraud, as President Robert Mugabe blamed pressure from western countries for pushing the economy toward collapse. Inflation soared to nearly 500 billion percent in September and the Zimbabwe dollar plummeted to 12.6 trillion per U.S. dollar.

“The gain in daily traded value is impressive considering where it had been,” Harare-based Dzika Danha, an analyst at the brokerage, said by phone today.

The exchange resumed trading in U.S. dollars on Feb. 19, a week after a new coalition government was sworn in under a power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The economy will probably expand by 3.7 percent this year, more than a previous estimate of 2.8 percent, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said in a telephone interview from Harare July 16.

The market value of shares listed on the exchange reached $4.03 billion yesterday, from an estimated $1 billion when the market reopened in February, Renaissance Capital said. That is more than its most bullish forecast made in April of $3.5 billion by the end of 2009.

Delta Corp., Zimbabwe’s largest beer and beverages maker, and Econet Wireless Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest mobile- phone operator, have been among the most-heavily traded stocks, Dzika said.