Category Archives: NSE investor awareness

Absa AFM Index shows African countries improve in investor readiness

The 2019 Africa Financial Markets Index report that was released in October, found that several countries had closed gaps to perennial leader South Africa, improving on several measures such as financial transparency, local investor capacity, legal protection and macroeconomic opportunity.

Showing just how much African countries have made progress, while only six had scored better than 50 (out of the maximum 100) in the first index in 2017, last year ten countries did that, and in 2019, thirteen countries scored better than 50 points.

The ranking of countries in the Absa 2019 Africa Financial Markets Index and some of the market/investor activities highlighted in the report include:

South Africa (and also number 1 in the last index): Is the top country in 5 pillars after it regained the lead from Kenya on the foreign exchange one. The JSE also launched a Nasdaq clearing platform.

2 (4) Mauritius: Has diversified its economy from sugar and textiles to tourism and financial services. It leads the continent in pension assets under management of $4,331 per capita. It has also established a derivatives trading platform.

3 (3)Kenya: More detail on Kenya’s ranking and investor initiatives here.

4 (6) Namibia: Bank Windhoek issued a green bond in the year. One concern is that the country lacks sufficient financial markets experts.

5 (2) Botswana: The country’s exchange has large market capitalization, but this is mostly due to dual-listed mining companies that have low trading volumes. They also formed a financial stability council to coordinate different regulators and plan to launch a mobile phone bond product like Kenya’s M-Akiba.

6 (5) Nigeria: Showed big improvement as they have liberalized their exchange rate and built up reserves. Pension funds were freed up to invest in infrastructure, bond, and Sukuk funds.

7 (15) Tanzania: Created a tax ombudsman and also repealed an amendment that had made it illegal to publish statistics that were not approved by the Government.

8 (8) Zambia: Improved budget reporting. But reserves dropped due to high interest payments on external debt as mining production has declined.

9 (11) Rwanda: Share of exports grew, and an agreement was reached with the IMF to accelerate urbanization and financial markets.

10 (10) Uganda: Market trading activity dropped from $25 million to  $11 million and one of the largest stockbrokers opted not to renew their operating license.

Others were:

11 (16) Egypt: Topped the pillar of macro-economic opportunity due to export gains and declines in non-performing loans. Moody’s also upgraded their banking system ratings.

12 (9) Morocco: Now publishes monetary policy announcements and data releases. Has an active financial market but limited availability of financial products. It plans to launch an agricultural commodities exchange.

13 (7) Ghana: Is seeking to cap foreign holdings of government debt. The Bank of Ghana merged small banks and revoked licenses of others that did not meet minimum capital requirements.

16 (13) Ivory Coast: Enabled more-accessible budget reporting and plans to launch an agricultural commodities exchange for 2020.

20 (20) Ethiopia: Announced plans to launch a stock exchange for 2020, with aims to have significant privatization events including the listing of telecommunication companies. Local banks are also adopting international financial reporting standards. But the requirement that their pension funds can only invest in government securities is considered an impediment.

Also on the index are Seychelles (ranked 14), Mozambique (15), Angola (17), Senegal (18) and Cameroon (19). The 2019 AFM Index report was produced by the Absa Bank Group and the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) and it can be downloaded here.

Kenya Tax Changes in 2020

A look at some of the Tax changes that become effective on January 1, 2020, as a result of the Finance Bill 2019 that was signed by the President on 7 November 2019.

The highlight was the repeal of Section 33B of the Banking Act which had put an interest rate cap on commercial bank loans, but there are also other taxation clauses of note.

  • Import Declaration Fee levy has been increased from 2% to 3.5%. Also, the Railway Development Levy, which is an important component of paying for the SGR, has been increased from 1.5% to 2%.
  • Companies that list under the Nairobi Securities Exchange’s GEMS program for the next three years can be forgiven tax penalties and interest, provided they pay the principal amount. This move to encourage listing at the NSE became effective in November 2019. But if they delist within five years, that window lapses and all taxes due before listing will again become payable.
  • Taxes also go up for cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, fruit wines and spirits.
  • Motor vehicle excise taxes go up from 20 to 25% for cars over 1500 cc, and that for station wagons and race cars go up from 30 to 35%, but for electric-powered motor vehicles, that goes down from 20 to 10%.
  • Sports betting companies take another hit with a 20% tax lopped on to each bet amount, regardless of the outcome of the wager.
  • New economy taxes: The new year ushers in taxes on the digital economy market place – this encompasses “platforms that enable interaction between buyers and sellers of goods & services through electronic means” who are now liable for income tax and value-added tax (VAT). Along with that, a taxpayer PIN is mandatory when one is registering for a paybill and till numbers (to process mobile payments) through a telephone company
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s), which were exempt from corporate tax are now also exempt from income tax.
  • There is an income tax exemption for people who register under the Government’s Ajira Digital (online work) program from January 2020 to December 2022.
  • Green bonds: Interest income on all listed infrastructure bonds, or green bonds,that are a minimum three years to maturity will be exempt from income tax as will income on the National Housing Development Fund.
  • Turnover tax of 3% has been reintroduced and will be payable monthly by any business whose turnover does not exceed Kshs 5 million (~$50,000) in any year. EDIT – does not apply to companies already registered for VAT or those earning employment income rental income, engaged in management & professional services and limited liability companies. There is also a Presumptive Tax, a new tax that is 15% of the annual fee paid for a license e.g. to operate in Nairobi County and that can be offset when paying the turnover tax.
  • Environmental stuff: Plastic recycling companies will get a preferential corporate tax rate of 15% for five years and machinery and equipment used for plastic recycling plants are now VAT exempt. But, going the other way, equipment for the development of solar and wind energy, including batteries, which were previously exempt from VAT, now require the Cabinet Secretary for Energy to approve any such exemptions.
  • A taxpayer PIN is now mandatory when one is renewing membership in a professional body or with any licensing agency.
  • Mitumba and shipment consolidators are now recognized – if they have warehouses in the country of origin and Kenya, and have no history of dealing with substandard or counterfeit goods.

Meanwhile, the President said at the Jamhuri Day celebrations (on December 12) that a mortgage scheme he had previously proposed, and which entailed a deduction of 1.5% of salaries, would not be mandatory. Parliament resumes in February 2020 and we shall see if they amend that.

Extracts from reports done by KPMG East Africa, RSM Eastern Africa LLP and KN Law LLP .

M&A Moment: November 2019

A roundup of East Africa merger deals announced, ongoing, or completed in the latter half of the year 2019. Most are drawn from approval decisions from the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK Kenya).

The deals include:

Airline/ Oil/Energy/Mining M&A

  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of 863,477 Series B preferred shares in Windgen Power USA Inc. by Omidyar Network Fund LLC, Acumen Fund Inc., Stitching DOB Equity and Microgrid Catalytic Capital Partners.
  • Rubis, having completed the takeover of Kenol, are now going after Gulf Energy, the fourth-largest fuel marketer in Kenya with 46 stations.
  • A bid by the owners of IberAfrica, Kenya’s largest thermal power producer, to sell the company to a South African energy firm has collapsed. Read more.

Banking and Finance: Finance, Law, & Insurance M&A

  • The CAK approved the proposed merger between Commercial Bank of Africa and NIC Group on condition that they retain 1,872 employees for a period of 12 months. Post-merger, the market share of the entity will be 10.67%, making it the country’s second-largest bank.
  • Equity Group entered a non-binding agreement with certain shareholders of Banqué Commerciale du Congo (BCDC), for the purchase for cash of a controlling equity stake in BCDC, with a view to eventually amalgamating the business of BCDC with that of EGH’s existing banking subsidiary in DRC, Equity Bank Congo.
  • The CAK approved the proposed acquisition of National Bank of Kenya by KCB Group on condition that 90% of the merged entity’s employees will be retained for a period of eighteen months.
  • Fund manager ICEA Lion Asset Management has signed an agreement to acquire Stanlib Kenya’s business of managing funds, assets and investment in Kenya – including the Fahari I-REIT – in a deal valued at Kshs 1.5 billion. 
  • The business of non-deposit taking micro-finance carried on by Kenya Ecumenical Church Loan Fund has been transferred to ECLOF Kenya. 
  • The CAK has authorized the proposed acquisition of 93.57% of  Transnational Bank Plc by Access Bank Plc.
  • Exim Bank Tanzania acquired UBL Bank, a subsidiary of Pakistan’s UBL Bank, as part of its plan to expand nationwide and become a top- five bank in the country. It now has assets of 1.7 trillion Tanzania shillings. 
  • In 2017 private equity firm Capitalworks acquired AON’s shareholding in several African operations, alongside local shareholders including governments in many markets.
  • I&M Holdings unit, GA insurance has acquired 100% of Nova Insurance Company in Uganda. It is part of GA’s plan to expand across East Africa where insurance penetration remains low. (via Kenyan Wall Street).

Agri-Business, Food & Beverage M&A

  • Coca-Cola Sabco (East Africa), which owned 72% of Nairobi Bottlers, has bought 27.6% of that company from Centum Investments, along with 53.9 % of Almasi Bottlers for a total of Kshs 19.2 billion. Centum states that the stakes had a combined value of Kshs 16.8 billion. CAK approved the deals on condition that it continues to operate current bottling plants in Nyeri, Eldoret, Nairobi, Molo and Kisumu for at least three years and retains 1,749 of the 1,760 permanent employees for the same period. Also that Almasi reserves 20% of the storage space in its coolers to SMEs for products (excluding products of Coca-Cola’s three largest global competitors). Coca Cola shall also allow Coastal Bottlers to distribute other non-alcoholic ready-to-drink brands.
  • The CAK approved Vivo Energy B.V.’s proposed investment in Kuku Foods which operates 24 outlets in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu and Nanyuki under franchise from America’s Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).
  • The CAK approved the proposed subscription of 33.9% and joint control of Maziwa by Pledge Holdco, which is wholly-owned by Texas Pacific Group (TPG). Maziwa is owned by Bainne and distributes of milk and milk-related products in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia under the brand name ‘Lola’.  The CA determined that the main players in the processed milk market, were Brookside Dairy (40%), New Kenya Co-operative Creameries, (25%), Sameer Agriculture (14%) and Githunguri Dairy Co-operatives (12%) while the merged entity will have a market share of 3.9%.
  • The CAK approved the acquisition of 100% of Aquamist Ltd by Aquapani Ltd. Aquapani is newly incorporated in Kenya as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Menengai for the sole purpose of this transaction. The deal is being done alongside Aquaplast which manufactures PET bottles, jars and closures and Polycarbonate plastics for refillable water containers mainly for the bottling business of Aquamist.
  • The CA-K approved an investment by Stitching DOB Equity and Acumen Fund into Coconut Holdings which had a turnover of Kshs 162 million in 2018. More here.
  • The CA-K approved the acquisition of 100% of Gilani Butchery by Upland Meat Products. Gilani had s turnover of Kshs 116.9 million in 2017.

Health and Medical, Pharmaceutical M&A

  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of Honos Parent Ltd By Doctor No Parent Ltd
  • US pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson has teamed up with private equity firms, South Africa’s Inqo Investments and London-based Sumerian Partners, to buy out Naivasha-based South Lake Medical Centre in a deal valued at nearly Kshs 100 million. The hospital was acquired from Flamingo Horticulture which had established the facility to serve its low-income farmworkers.  
  • Interswitch has acquired eClat, expanding its reach into Nigeria’s health-tech sector. The move is the latest in a series of strategic investments into Africa’s growing digital marketplace by the firm. Asoko has tracked 8 other deals in the Nigerian health care industry since 2015, of which the eClat deal is the second involving a health-tech firm. Investors were most active in the pharmaceutical segment, with three deals in that space over the period. (via Asoko
  • The CAK authorized the acquisition of 54.23% of AAR Health Care Holdings by Hospital Holdings Investments.

Logistics, Engineering, & Manufacturing M&A

  • The  CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of all ARM Kenya‘s (Under Administration) businesses, assets and properties by National Cement Company on condition that the merged entity ensures continued operation at ARM’s Kaloleni and Athi River plants and retains 95% of ARMs 1,100 employees.
  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of the plastic manufacturing business of Metro Plastics (Kenya) by Metro Concepts East Africa on condition that the acquirer absorbs at least ninety employees.
  • CAK has authorized the proposed acquisition of control of Chemi & Cotex Kenya by Unilever Overseas Holdings B.V on condition that the acquirer continues providing the products (Whitedent, Bodyline, Baby Soft, Skin Glow, Siri, U & Me, Lovely, Barnister and Tressa) in the market for at least three years.
  • The CAK approved the proposed acquisition of an additional 47.5% shareholding in Speedex Logistics Ltd by Suresh Naran Varsani. The transaction will result in a change of ownership from joint to sole control.
  • The CA-K approved the acquisition of direct control by Tuffsteel in Hwan Sung Industries Kenya which has a turnover of Kshs 5.8 million in 2018.

Real Estate, Tourism, & Supermarkets M&A

  • The CAK approved the proposed acquisition of 100% of Quick Mart by Sokoni Retail Kenya, which is owned by Adenia Partners of Mauritius, a private equity fund manager. Quick Mart, incorporated in 2006, has 10 supermarket outlets located in Kiambu, Nairobi and Nakuru counties. In October 2018, Sokoni had acquired Tumaini Self Service, another retailer in Kenya with 13 outlets located in Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, and Kisumu counties. EDIT Quickmart has recently undergone a merger with Tumaini Self service stores and the merged entity will be the third largest retailer in Kenya, backed by a strong institutional investor, with plans to open 6 stores over the next year.
  • The CAK approved the proposed acquisition, with controlling rights, of 22.32%  of the Riara Group of Schools by Actus Education Holdings AB. Riara operates six learning institutions in Kenya which offer the 8.4.4 and British Curriculum education systems. The CA found that of the schools offering British Curriculum, Braeburn Schools with 10.2% of the students, Aga Khan Academy 7.1%, Srimad Premier Academy 3.8%, and Oshwal Academy 3.4%. The CAK has approved the acquisition of 100% of the shares in Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies by Heritour Ltd. One of Abercrombie’s Kenya subsidiaries is a tour operator that offers tourist accommodation in the Maasai Mara.

Telecommunications, Media & Publishing M&A

  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of 100% shareholding in Eaton Towers Holdings by ATC Heston B.V 
  • BRCK has acquired the Surf Network. BRCKs Moja Network passed 300,000 unique monthly users in January, with 1,500 mobile nodes in buses and matatus across Nairobi and Kigali. The new acquisition takes them close to 500,000 active monthly unique users,  and they state this is the largest public Wi-Fi network in East Africa, and second-largest on the continent. 
  • Co-creation Hub (CcHUB), the leading technology innovation centre in Nigeria, acquired Kenya’s iHub for an undisclosed fee. The deal will see the iHub become part of the CcHUB’s network, while retaining its name and senior management structure.  The move comes seven months after CcHUB expanded into Rwanda, with the launch of its Design Lab. 
  • The Airtel-Telkom merger is still ongoing. Kenya’s Parliament has raised some queries about the transfer of government assets and shares as has the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. Rival Safaricom also stepped in and pressed for the two companies to settle a combined debt of Kshs 1.3 billion they are owed before the transfer is completed. They also argue that the merged entity will have an outsize frequency allocation (77.5 MHz of spectrum serving 17.3 million customers) compared to Safaricom (who serve 31.8 million customers with 57.5 MHz) and ask that this is rebalanced. EDIT December 14: The Competition Authority has approved the proposed acquisition of the mobile operations, enterprise and carrier services business of Telkom Kenya by Airtel Networks Kenya with conditions including; the merged entity shall not sell or transfer its licenses (Network facility provider, applications service provider, content service provider, submarine cable landing ) and frequency spectrum (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz), with the 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz ones reverting to the Government after they expire. Also, the merged entity shall honour all agreements and not enter any sale agreements (for five years). It shall retain 114 Telkom Kenya employees for two years and 115 others of the merged entity and not enjoy preferential access to the 4,204 kilometers of fibre managed by Telkom on behalf of the Government.
  • The CAK authorized the proposed acquisition of 100% of  De La Rue Kenya by HID Corporation on condition that all existing contracts De La Rue has with the Kenyan Government are honoured.
  • The CAK has authorized the proposed establishment of a joint venture and the acquisition of control of certain assets of Kul Graphics, The Rodwell Press, Printfast Kenya, Digital Hub and Colourprint by The Print Exchange on condition that the parties retain 100 permanent employees of the merger parties for a period of one year after completion of the transaction and the 72 contractual employees serve to the end of their contracts.  In May 2019, the directors of the six companies had announced plans to merge due to the printing industry’s price sensitivity and demands for new technological innovations that had created financial and operational challenges for them.
  • The CAK has approved the acquisition of 80% of iWayAfrica Kenya by Echotel International Proprietary. iWayAfrica Kenya provides a range of ICT services. The CA estimated market shares for the main providers of retail Internet access services to be Telkom Kenya (28%), Liquid Telecom (25%), Safaricom (14%), Internet Solutions (13%) and Simbanet (4%). iWayKenya is at 1.2% and Echotel at 0.6%.
  • It was announced this week that two of Tanzania’s best-known telecommunications companies – Tigo and Zantel – have completed there merger, combining their operations on both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. (via Arden Kitomari)
  • The CA-K approved the acquisition of direct control of Digital Packaging Innovation Holdings and A-One Plastics by Rifts Investments.
  • ScanGroup is set to sell two of its subsidiaries for more than Sh2.4 billion in a deal that was triggered by a related transaction involving its London-based parent company WPP Plc with Bain Capital. Read more.

Other M&A

  • The business carried on by Pa’shante Enterprises in Nairobi has been sold and transferred to Pashante Greens Africa.
  • The assets and inventory of Mapflex East Africa at Airport North Road will be transferred to Actiflex Ltd. 
  • The business of a barber and spa carried on Crystal Barber and Spa on Kiambu Road has been sold and transferred to Esther Kinya Guantai. 

Since the last update in January 2019

Kenya remains the third most attractive financial market in Africa

The third edition of the Africa Financial Markets Index report that was released in October 2019, found that Kenya had retained its third position thanks to industry efforts to improve opportunities for investors.

The AFM index by the Absa Bank Group and the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) is a useful tool designed to gauge Africa’s readiness to fund itself and its growth plans. It reviews 20 African countries across six pillars of market depth, access to foreign exchange, market transparency, tax & regulatory environment, the capacity of local investors and macroeconomic opportunity and the legality & enforceability financial agreements.

Overall, South Africa remained in first place, topping four of the six pillars, while Mauritius topped the legal agreements measure and Egypt topped the macro-economic opportunity one.

Speaking on trends across Africa observed in the 2019 AFM Index, Jeff Gable, the Head Of Research at the Absa Group, said there were several exciting financial markets events across the continent this year. These included the first-ever sovereign blue bond by Seychelles to support marine projects, Nigeria selling a 30-year government bond that was four times over-subscribed, Uganda halving the withholding tax on government bonds from 20% to 10%, Zambia launching a primary dealer system and Ethiopia announcing plans to launch a stock exchange in 2020.

On the AFM Index 2019, Kenya, along with Botswana and Namibia, increased to above 50 in the first pillar of market depth. The value of bonds listed in Nairobi doubled from $8.8 billion to $17.5 billion, mostly due to sovereign issues. However there remained a need to have more active trading of bonds and equities, and Kenya has rolled out an M-Akiba infrastructure bond targeted at retail investors that they can access for just over $30.

Kenya came second behind Mauritius on the pillar of enforceability of market agreements. It also scored well for its new insolvency law which encourages rehabilitation of distressed firms, and its endorsement of standard financial master agreements (ISDA GMRA, GMSLA).

However, it lost the lead on the foreign exchange pillar to South Africa. While the country has built up high foreign exchange reserves, up from 4 months to 5.8 months of import cover, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had reclassified Kenya’s exchange rate regime from ‘floating’ to ‘other managed arrangement.’  The AFM Index has continued to highlight the risk of rigid management of foreign exchange by some African countries and pushed for more flexible regimes.

On the third pillar of market transparency, Kenya’s tax code was found to be supportive, but the country had raised taxation on mobile cash transactions creating some uncertainty. There has also been some recent progress as, in the last few weeks, capital markets stakeholders have convinced the Government to retain the country’s capital gains tax at 5%, and set aside an amendment in the 2019 Finance Bill that had proposed to change it to 12.5%.

The country was also flagged for its capping of interest rates which had shrunk credit availability and weakened companies profitability.

Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Ukur Yatani, in a speech read on his behalf at a Nairobi launch of the report, spoke of the need for Kenyans to save and invest to fund economic growth. Even with the country attaining formal financial inclusion of 82%, up from 26% in 2006, more could be achieved through financial markets.

He said that the country had established a Nairobi International Financial Centre authority to attract capital to Kenya and with the movable property security rights in place, the government was now supporting the setup a Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company that would make it easier for banks to advance funding towards affordable home ownership.

He noted that President Kenyatta had declined to assent to the Finance Bill until Parliament reviewed the cap on interest rates which, evidence showed, had resulted in a negative impact on the economy. Kenya was one of the few countries on the index which saw bank non-performing loans go up, from 10 to 11.7%, last year. He hoped that Members of Parliament would now view the President’s determination as an opportunity to give a stimulus to the economy.

Jeremy Awori, CEO of Barclays Bank of Kenya said that the country had ranked favourably, rising from 5th, when the first AFM Index report was published in 2017, to 3rd in 2018, a position it retained this year. This was due to efforts by industry stakeholders and regulators who had also worked with the Capital Markets Authority to launch a 10-year master plan for the industry. He added that, after Kenya had come up with new regulations for exchange-traded funds, Barclays Kenya had launched the first ETF in the region – New Gold which had performed well since its introduction.

He said that, as Barclays transitions into the Absa brand in Kenya and across Africa, customers will not feel any change in products or services and that they were working to upgrade systems to ensure they remain accessible from anywhere in the world. He added that strong domestic financial markets were a cushion to economic headwinds and that Barclays would soon launch a new wealth and asset offering in Kenya.

Charles Muchene, Chairman of Barclays Bank of Kenya, saluted Paul Muthaura, the outgoing CEO of the Capital Markets Authority, who has led the organization to be recognized as the most innovative capital markets regulator in Africa for four years in a row.  He said that a new ATS platform,  introduced at the Nairobi Securities Exchanges, had broadened the capacity of traders, enabling them to do multiple transactions on the same day, while also supporting securities lending and derivatives trading.

Later, in speaking about the capacity of local investors, the CMA CEO spoke of the need to educate, and shift, more retail investors towards long-term gains from managed funds. This would cushion them from the tendency to speculate on quick returns from land, gambling, and pyramid schemes.

Geoffrey Odundo, CEO of Nairobi Securities Exchange, said they had held some positive engagements with the National Treasury to get more big government listings to the NSE. He also said that they now have an Ibuka program to nurture small companies to be more attractive for investments, adding that this was part of a plan to increase its equities turnover from 6% of the total market to 15% in a few years. The NSE now had 12 asset classes including equity and index futures launched earlier this year and had been voted the second most innovative exchange in Africa.

The 2019 AFM Index report can be downloaded here along with a databank summary of the different country rankings under each of the six pillars.

Private Equity investment guide for East Africa

This week in Nairobi saw the launch by  EAVCA, FSD Africa and IFC Africa of a new private equity (PE) investment guide for East Africa.

The PE investing guide is a tool to enable pension funds across East Africa to assess and invest in private equity assets by raising knowledge among pension fund managers who are primarily invested in stocks and bonds.

It is a simple guide that can be read in just thirty minutes to gain an understanding of private equity assets. It has a checklist of useful information to look for before investing in PE, and after to manage portfolios, and roles for general and limited partners.

Also, EAVCA released a market report on the current status of private equity investments in the region following a survey of pension schemes and PE general partners. It found that, while five Eastern African countries have generous provisions for pension funds to invest in private equity, led by Rwanda at 20%, Uganda at 15% and Kenya at 10%, the uptake has been low with Uganda attaining 2.2% investments in PE funds followed by Kenya at 0.08%.

Nzomo Mutuku of Kenya’s Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA), who officiated the launch,  said that while pushed for pension schemes to diversify and explore alternative investments to grow returns for members, many still had huge investments in one company (i.e Safaricom) and stocks and bonds of banks in which they held their deposit funds. (Later it came up the concentration in a few NSE stocks is not unusual among sub-Saharan markets- Nigeria’s largest firm commands 35% of the market while in Ghana, the top three firms have an 80% share).

Other Insights from the Q & A after the launch:

• Excluding South Africa, there is about $100 billion of funds held by pension and insurance funds and collective investment schemes (CIS). Of that East Africa, has about $30 billion with  Kenya at $20 billion.

• The IFC has been in private equity for over 20 years and is invested in 300 funds globally, with 50 of them active in this region.

• One pension manager cited their investments in I&M bank before it listed at the NSE, UAP, and invested in an energy IPP that gave attractive returns of 13% on a Euro investment.

• Another mentioned that they had participated in 40 bonds offers in 17 African countries with decent returns and no defaults.

• Speakers cautioned about Kenya’s move to raise the capital gains tax on private equity from 5% to 12%, a move that the country’s parliament has since set aside thanks to concerted lobbying.

The teams will next move to market the assets class to trustees in Botswana and Nigeria.