Ghana stocks headed for the lowest in 21 months as investors sold shares to free up cash as they contend with the fallout from banking reforms in the West African nation.

The Ghana Stock Exchange Composite Index retreated 1.5% as of 12:09 p.m. in Accra Wednesday, heading for the lowest close since October 2017.

Ghana’s banking industry regulator completed a clean-up and recapitalization exercise in December that closed nine banks and led to several mergers, cutting the number of lenders to 23 from 34. Six months on, some investors still complain that their funds aren’t available because some lenders have been recapitalized through bonds and have low cash levels, impeding clients’ access to savings.

The stock market weakness is caused by the “after effects of the banking crisis,” Eli Keledorme, a stocks analyst at SAS Finance Group, said by phone. “A lot of investors have funds locked up in some of these institutions and some investors had to sell because of the need for funds.”

The stocks benchmark has dropped 8.5% this year. And dealing has dwindled, with 88.8 million cedis ($16.6 million) in stocks traded in the first half, down from 456.3 million cedis a year earlier, according to Central Securities Depository Ghana Ltd.

Credit: Bloomberg

(By Moses Mozart Dzawu)