It's time to grow!

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has been given the green light by its members to become a publicly listed company, it said on Thursday.

The members also approved the appointment of South African bank FirstRand and local investment firm Chapel Hill Denham to guide it through the process of becoming a listed company.

The second-biggest bourse in sub-Saharan Africa, after Johannesburg and a main entry point for investors in Africa; the NSE is owned by stockbrokers and some institutional investors.

It has around 200 listed companies, all included in its benchmark share index.

As a first step, the NSE will change its ownership structure from a mutual company of brokers to add new shareholders.

NSE president Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede said this demutualisation "will bring the Nigerian capital market on a par with other international jurisdictions, result in enhanced governance (and) transparency".

"It will also attract "strategic partners, investors and good quality issuers", he said.