Africa Exchange Holdings has formally unveiled the East Africa Exchange (EAX) at a regional integration summit in Kigali.

Launched by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the EAX is a commodity exchange aimed at providing small businesses (particularly smallholder farmers in the region) with better access to finance, boosting intra-African trade.

“The EAX will link small-scale farmers in the East African community to agricultural and financial markets so they can get competitive pricing for crops and access to finance,” one of the Exchange’s principle investors, Tony Elumelu of Heirs Holdings, said in a statement following the launch.

“The EAX provides opportunities for faster and more inclusive African economic growth through intra-African trade previously unseen on this scale in the region. More regional trade will increase employment, accommodate a higher number of market participants and drive greater scale in terms of agricultural financing.”

One of the principle aims of the Exchange is to ensure the majority of the ‘value-adding’ aspects of East Africa’s resource wealth stays on the continent. “Africa must move towards greater self-sufficiency with private investment and strategic partnerships,” read the statement.

The EAX will reportedly use NASDAQ’s OMX X-Stream security platform for electronic trading and warehouse receipts. Farmers can keep their produce in EAX- certified warehouses and access its services.