Category Archives: SDG

Sustainable Finance by Kenyan Bankers

The Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) launched a report on the progress towards the implementation of sustainable finance in decision-making at Kenyan banks.

The KBA houses a Sustainable Finance Working Group that complies mid-level managers at Kenya banks that champions and promotes sustainable finance principles and practices among Kenyan banks. The report shows that 85% of banks have aligned their credit policies to responsible and sustainable lending practices and 57% of banks have integrated sustainability reports into their financial reporting. The results are based on voluntary disclosures by banks.

KBA also launched a revamped Sustainable Finance Initiative e-learning website that is now Persons With Disability (PWD)-friendly.

Since it was originally launched in 2015, over 99% (33,000 employees) of banking industry staff have received training on how to make more inclusive financial decisions. The bankers are trained on different modules, including on green bonds and with case-studies from other markets. The top-performing banks in SFI e-learning have been NCBA, Bank of Africa, Diamond Trust, I&M, and Sidian banks. Also, bankers can now sign in with user names, as access is no longer based on their email addresses, which created hitches when people learning switched banks.

The new platform has got case foreign and local studies on blue and green finance. Some of the ones cited in the report include the Acorn Green Bond, arranged by Stanbic and guaranteed by GuarantCo, which raised Kshs 4.3 billion for environmentally- friendly student accommodation in Nairobi. Others are CBA’s $2 million lending to M-KOPA, a seller of solar-powered devices to low income, mostly unbanked households, on a pay-to-own instalment basis and Standard Chartered’s Kshs 10 million 3-year loan to assist Uhuru Flower Farms to acquire a solar system to reduce their energy costs and improve the reliability of the power supply.

Also this week, Family Bank joined the United Nations Global Compact network, and became the 4th bank in Kenya to commit to building a sustainable business that adheres to the ten principles of the network.

The KBA sustainability study was done with support from WWF-Kenya which is also supporting the green bonds program in Kenya.

Absa Kenya’s Sustainability Push

Absa Bank will plant ten million trees over the next five years with partners and stakeholders as part of a broad plan to promote sustainability and the wellbeing of Kenyans. This is the latest initiative by the bank that has identified three areas of climate action, recycling and sustainable resourcing to champion.

Jeremy Awori, the Absa Kenya Managing Director, said that while companies have historically engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR) as philanthropic ventures, these initiatives are now going through a transformation to make them more sustainable and impactful by making them a part of the core business.  

Absa has tied its initiatives with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on quality education (SDG 4), economic growth (SDG 8) and responsible consumption (SDG 12). The bank has also signed on to the Sustainable Finance initiative, championed by the Kenya Bankers Association, UNEP’s Principles for Responsible Banking initiative, and has also joined the Kenya Green Building Society with a plan to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Its suppliers, 90% of who are local, are undergoing training on sustainable business and the bank plans to have them all sign up with the UN Global Compact in 2021. The bank’s enterprise supply chain development program has provided unsecured loans to small and medium enterprises and a ready to work program has trained 415,000 people.

Caroline Ndungu, the Marketing Director, said old computers and furniture at the bank are being repurposed by Computers for Schools Kenya and Fun Kidz to equip labs at 66 educational institutions with 1,000 computers. Absa is also replacing water dispensers with water purification systems and will recycle billboard branding materials from the Barclays transition into school bags. The bank will also do tree planting exercises as they hand over the labs.

Moses Muthui, the Absa Country Strategy Director, said banks should exist not to profiteer from people but to profit with people. As such, along with other covid-mitigation measures, the bank has now restructured Kshs 60 billion of loans. Absa has also enabled over half their staff to work from home while still keeping all their banking channels open to provide essential financial services to customers.

Kenya had 6% forest cover in 2009 and is estimated to lose 50,000 hectares of forest each year through deforestation. Speaking at the launch, Dr Chris Kiptoo, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environment called on banks to provide innovative financial solutions to promote commercial forestry by the private sector.

The Absa Sustainability Commitment report is available on the bank website.

AfDB’s record capital call of $115 billion

The shareholders of the African Development Bank (AfDB) have approved an increase of its capital to support its future development finance and impact across the continent over the next decade.

Meeting in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, in October 2019, the shareholders, representing 80 countries, approved an increase in the AfDB’s authorised capital, from $93 billion to $208 billion. At the end of 2018, the Bank had assets of $47 billion and $58 million of net income.

The voting power of shareholders includes Nigeria (9.3%), Egypt (5.6%), South Africa (5%), Algeria (4.2%), Morocco (3.6%), Côte d’Ivoire (3.7%) and Kenya (1.4%). African nations have a total of 59% of the voting powers, while other nations, including the USA (6.6%), Japan (5.5%), Germany (4.1%) and Canada (3.8%), have total votes of 41%.

The path to the seventh capital increase began back in January 2018 and has gone through several steps including interactions and progress review updates with shareholders and partners that were summarized at the 2019 AfDB annual meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

The last capital increase was in 2010. Some of the highlights of the funding during the sixth period include the establishment of agro-industrial zones across Ethiopia and arranging $1 billion in finance for South Africa’s Eskom to expand its generation and transmission capacity. There was also the Sene-Gambia bridge, which was the realization of a 40-year dream to connect two countries, the 895-kilometers Addis-Mombasa highway and the expansion of Namibia’s Walvis Bay port to become a regional logistics hub.

A bank study of the impact of its $1.4 billion investments in East Africa region, between 2013 and 2015, found that this had resulted in the addition of $1.2 billion to the economies of the different countries and created over 380,000 jobs

The new funding, which will be called up from shareholders between 2020 and 2025, is intended to finance the Bank’s High 5 priorities and maintain its AAA rating with the top rating agencies. Over the next decade, the AfDB plans to double the funding efforts towards energy and agriculture, with targets to allocate 25% and 20% respectively, to the two sectors by 2031.

The Bank has lined up a three-year pipeline of projects to lend to, including $15 billion in 2020 and $13.6 billion in 2021. Some of the planned projects are targeted at improving continental transport networks, supporting climate change initiatives, and increasing access to electricity and water. One of them is a “Desert-to-Power” initiative that aims to transform the climate-fragile Sahel region into the largest solar zone in the world that will generate 10-gigawatts and impact 250 million people.