Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Passing the Torch

The new trade actor, Anteneh Assefa, the incoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) was introduced to ECX staff and trading members at the exchange quarter. The Board chairman of ECX reiterated that the transition is not political.
Dr. Eleni Z. Gabre-Medhin, founder and the first CEO of the exchange explained for the coming CEO during the introduction ceremony held on Wednesday and Friday of the past week with traders and ECX staff respectively saying that new CEO is strong, capable and bright minded in his previous duties in the financial sector. In short, “he is the right person for the exchange,” she said as she introduced him to the staff.
Anteneh, 38, confidently explained about himself and his aspirations, which will be vast; needing his tough fortitude. “I will be one of you as of August 1, 2012 and I have a bright vision like the exchange,” he added gracefully in his introduction to staff during the Friday ceremony held at lunch time in the exchange hall.
“When the new transformation was disclosed some traders and staff members were worried and they were asking that what will happen with the trading. But it is a strong and healthy transformation,” Dr. Eleni said.
Addisu Legesse, the current board chairman and one of the major accountable government officials for the formation of the exchange said that this succession can be a benchmark for other officials’ appointments not only in the government offices but in the private sector.
Addisu, who was Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development when the exchange was designed, explained that although some people were sad, the current transformation was known when the exchange was designed years ago. “People were saying the she (Dr. Eleni) had a dispute with the government. But it is gossip exchange and they can continue with this but we undertake our trading,” the board chairman said in his explanation regarding the succession.
“The transition is the outcome of the succession plan carefully implemented since May 2010 to ensure the smooth handover from a team of internationally recruited management professionals who have designed, implemented, and managed the day to day operations of the exchange since its establishment,” the chair added.
Anteneh, who was selected from a hand full of top nominates, was successful in his previous career at the state owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Bank of Abyssinia (BoA) in the past 15 years. He explained that he admired when the exchange officials introduced the new electronic market system for BoA management members five years ago. “When ECX officials explained about the trading in its initial stage, I could visualize the country’s future. And I was interested in joining   the team,” the new CEO said. “I would like to thank the committee and ECX board who gave me this responsibility,” he added.
During the event both the incoming and the outgoing CEOs had extensive discussions with traders on various issues about the trading and future activities of the new CEO. Participants were asking Anteneh how much he will be accessible for the members like the current outgoing management staff.
“One of the strongest parts of these outgoing management staff is their accessibility for trading members to listen and find solutions when problems occurred with training,” one of the founding trading members of the exchange explained to Capital.
“Our accessibility has able to build trust between traders and the exchange,” Dr. Eleni told Capital.
According to traders, Anteneh has promised to continue every tendency of the exchange that they are obtaining in the facility.
Anteneh said that the discussion held with traders was surprising. “It was a good opportunity for me to understand how much she (Dr. Eleni) undertook her responsibility related with traders,” the new CEO told Capital.
Dr. Eleni, who will officially leave the exchange as of the coming Ethiopian New Year told Capital that the new CEO and she herself will pay a month long tour throughout the country to introduce Anteneh to the public.
“We will travel over 4,000Km to visit all 17 ECX branches to give clarification about the activities at these branches for the coming CEO,” she added.
On Friday Addisu gave his appreciation for the soon to be retired CEO and her fellows for their strong dedication and efforts in the trading system over the past years. He also said that he knows that they will continue their support after they leave the trading.  
Dr. Eleni has had many years of experience working on agricultural markets particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, holding senior positions in the World Bank, the International Food Policy Research Institute (Washington), and United Nations (Geneva). She has a PhD in Applied Economics from Stanford University, and Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Economics from Cornell University and Michigan State University respectively.
The CEO, who founded and served the modern electronic market since April 2008, said that she will write a book about her experience in the exchange. She will also become a senior fellow at New York University and will teach classes about commodity exchange to graduate students at the university once a year.
Hollywood based company is negotiating with her to make a feature film about her achievements.