Head of commodities at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), Dr Raphael Karuaihe, will be leaving the company at the end of 2021. He recently spoke to Plaas Media’s Lise Roberts about his return to his country of birth, Namibia. After a career spanning almost ten years at the JSE, he has now been appointed as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Agricultural Bank of Namibia.

Dr Raphael Karuaihe is the new CEO of AgriBank of Namibia.

Dr Karuaihe has always had a special place in his heart for agriculture, although he never thought of the industry as a career in his early days. His parents have been farming with livestock all their lives. He grew up managing livestock on their farm and still farms today. However, as a career he looked at finance rather than agriculture. Yet he ended up completing his PhD in agricultural economics when he relocated to the United States (US) with his family.

Once they returned to Namibia, Dr Karuaihe wanted to work in the commodity derivatives space in Namibia. However, with their smaller economy he could not do it there. After completing his South African Futures Exchange (SAFEX) exams, his love for commodity derivatives brought him to South Africa. Here, he started his career at an agribusiness and brokerage company that traded derivatives via SAFEX in 2008.

Highlights at the JSE

Dr Karuaihe joined the JSE in 2012. Early this year, he already celebrated a personal highlight in his career when the company introduced formula-based methodology for calculating location differentials. During his career he also helped launch the listing of livestock products on the JSE. In 2015, beef and lamb carcass contracts were introduced where the JSE previously only traded in grain. In 2017, a wool contract was also introduced. 

Furthermore, the JSE introduced soya differentials and thereby harmonised all derivatives products on the exchange by approaching them with the same evaluation perspective. He also assisted in implementing changes to agricultural contract specification in 2020. They introduced better accountability and better efficacy at grain loading facilities when the country almost ran out of white maize stock.

Listen to the interview with Dr Karuaihe here:

He looks forward to his new position at the head of the Agricultural Bank of Namibia. This institution is a state-owned enterprise equivalent to the Land Bank in South Africa. The Agricultural Bank of Namibia was established as a mandate to advance finances in the agricultural industry. This new opportunity ties in with his long-term plan to retire in Namibia.

He assures South African agricultural role-players that he will not be completely lost to the industry since he will explore joint programmes to accomplish expansion in African trade. For example, due to the lack of adequate grain storage in Namibia, post-harvest losses are a major issue. This in turns limits commodity finance. He believes that Agbiz Grain members could play an important role across the South African border. He hopes to explore such programmes in the future. – Ursula Human, AgriOrbit