Category Archives: World Bank

WDR 2017: Governance and the rule of law

WDR2017, the World Development Report from the World Bank for 2017, looks at governance and the rule of law around the world and how they can impact countries and economic development.

Illustrative pic from the Star Newspaper to show what a large sum of cash will look like

some excerpts;

  • Elections alone are not enough to bring change – even when citizens manage to remove politicians whose performance is poor or diverges from their preferences, elections alone offer no credible guarantee that, once elected, new leaders will not shirk their electoral promises and credibly commit to citizens’ demands.
  • Local elites can capture public spending despite participatory programs; as they can disproportionately sway expenditure decisions
  • Inequality begets inequality In societies in which inequality is high as the effectiveness of governance to deliver on equity outcomes can be weakened structurally because those at the top of the income ladder not only have control over a disproportionate amount of wealth and resources, but also have a disproportionate ability to influence the policy process.
  • Devolve: By multiplying the number of more or less autonomous arenas within which public authority is exercised, decentralization increases the opportunities for policy innovations and the emergence of effective leaders. Often these innovations are spurred by political outsiders, who may not have access to the national policy arena but are more likely to acquire citizen support locally and spur local institutional reforms.
  • Female leaders are less prone to patronage politics and corruption.
  • Media content is often defined by elites leading to a bias, but new media can counteract this.
  • Political parties are on average the least-trusted political institution worldwide
  • Politically connected firms gain undue advantage in countries through using market regulations to favor firms, granting import licenses to favored firms, and diverting credit.
  • Land redistribution policies often fail due to transaction costs, incomplete contracts, and political agreements.
  • The Panama Papers highlighted legal and illegal ways in which assets found their way to 40 countries: Funds are legally earned through tax evasion and evading currency controls and shifting profits, but also illegally by exploiting natural resources, violating intellectual property rights, corruption, embezzlement, drug trafficking, and human smuggling etc.

See the 2016 WDR report.

World Bank Reduces Kenya Economic Forecast

A new report from the  World Bank slightly revised down the forecast for Kenya economic growth from the 5.9% achieved last year to 5.5% in 2017. This is attributed to ongoing drought, depressed private sector growth, and rising oil prices while 2016 had low oil prices, tourism recovery, and favourable weather conditions.

At the launch, Central Bank Governor, Patrick Njoroge said the focus should not be on the rate change, but on the medium term in which Kenya’s economy had distinguished itself by its resilience. This comes from Kenya having a highly diversified economy  – a mix of largest export is tea but his tea, and that goes to Egypt (not the UK), the economy has a strong regional focus (25% of exports are to EAC, and 40% to sub-Saharan Africa), a dynamic private sector (that’s becoming more transparency, with good governance & better business models), a well-educated labour force and investments in infrastructure (he said more should be written about the SGR vs. the old lunatic express railway) which will improve the country’s competitiveness. He said that foreign exchange reserves were at an all-time high (5.3 months) and while rains had failed in 2017 and there was a slowdown in bank lending, the risk of Brexit to Kenya was more on foreign direct investment (FDI) side and less on exports.

At the launch, the World Bank also did a report on housing in Kenya titled unavailable and unaffordable that highlighted that there were fewer than 50,000 new houses being built each year compared to an annual demand for 200,000 homes. Also, there’s low financial participation with fewer than 25,000 mortgages in the country, yet mortgages are one of the most secure loans, as people do not default on their homes easily.

The World Bank proposes having a Kenya mortgage refinance company (KMRC) that adapts from other successful models in Malaysia, Morocco (guarantees for 70% of loans) and Nigeria (fully subscribed bond scheme) to see if the number of mortgages in Kenya can go up to 60,000. They also have private-public partnership at Naivasha in Nakuru County to build 1,000 low-cost homes, most of which will be below Kshs 2 million (~$20,000)

Also see a report of an IMF staff visit to Kenya.

Growth Crossings: Africa Rising?

Excerpts from the Economist Events #GrowthCrossings dinner in Nairobi this week.

growthcrossings-nairobi

  • China grew by exporting to the world, Africa is rising by buying products – Abiola Olaniran
  • There are 1 trillion cash transactions in Africa that can be financially included through partnerships & technology – Sanjay Rughani
  • In two years, the unbanked African population has dropped from 54% to 46% – Sanjay Rughani
  • An ADB study found 3 drivers of Africa growth to be demographics (young urban population), climate change, and digital leapfrogging – Donald Kaberuka
  • A mobile network is many things in Africa, and Safaricom will be an ecosystem for others to succeed e.g in health, education, energy – Stephen Chege.
  • E-commerce is driven by high volumes, consistent delivery, and consumer protection – this takes a lot to succeed in Africa –  Sanjay Rughani.

M-Shwari, Equitel, and Mobile Lending Apps in Kenya

Just 24 hours apart, Equity Bank and Safaricom, which arguably have the most financial connections with Kenyan citizens, through m-banking, both made financial results announcements. Equity released their Q3 2016 results while Safaricom, whose year ends in March, was announcing their 2017 half-year results.

Safaricom has M-Pesa and also powers M-shwari at CBA and KCB M-pesa while Equity has Equitel a bank in a SIM card that gets around the barrier of the M-pesa. At the beginning of the year Equity had 8.8 million customers and the country’s largest bank – KCB had 3.8 million . They are surprisingly topped by CBA with 12.9 million customers, largely due to their partnership with Safaricom called M-shwari which allows savings and lending directly from a phone SIM card.

In the results this week, Safaricom reported pre-tax half-year profit of Kshs 34 billion derived from their 26 million customers solar-2Bphone-2Bchargerand their CEO said that they process about 21,000 M-pesa transactions per minute and that 2 loans are processed every second. M-pesa revenue increased by 33.7% to Kshs 26 billion, and message revenue grew by 8.1% to Kshs 8.6 billion (with the increase in premium rate SMS revenue probably attributable to sports betting /mobile gaming)

They now have 50,000 merchants using their cashless platform called Lipa na M-Pesa, and announced a waiver on person-to-person and Lipa Na M-Pesa transactions under Kshs 100 (~$1)  “We have done this to empower the people who support this company the most – the mama mbogas, the small businessmen, and the micro-agents who form our network.”

As at September 2016, Equity had a Kshs 15.1 billion pre-tax profit, an 18% increase over last year.  The Q3 results also showed a second straight quarter of reduction in loans at the bank from Kshs 222 to 221 billion. Whether this is due to the recent interest rate-capping bill or an absence of lending opportunities, or an economic pullback is not clear, but the deposits raised by the bank went to government treasuries which grew by Kshs 21 billion in the quarter.

Equity reaffirmed an ongoing commitment to shift in customer service channels from physical branches to phone and agents. In the first year of Equitel (their telco), it did 151 million transactions in the quarter 142% more than the year before. Equitel is now the second largest move of mobile money in Kenya – at 14%, being M-Pesa (84%)  but ahead of Airtel Money, Orange Money and Mobikash.

Equity Bank has also released a series of Eazzy banking solutions and tools including (an)  Eazzy App, Eazzy Chama (investment group/SACCO management tool) and (an) EazzyAPI (for developers to build on).

Away from the two, the World Bank’s CGAP blog recently highlighted and compared several phone-based borrowing / m-banking solutions and apps available to Kenyans. They are easily accessible but unregulated, and they vary their terms, credit scoring methods, limits (which range from ~S1 to $10,000) interest rates, duration,  and the ultimate cost to the borrower. They include;  Branch, Equitel (Eazzy Loan and  Eazzy Plus Loan), Jumo/ Kopa Cash, KCB-M-Pesa, Kopa Chapaa, Micromobile, Mjiajiri, M-pawa-Sacco, M-Shwari, Okoa Stima, Pesa na Pesa, Pesa Pata, Pesa Zetu, Saida, Tala, and Zindisha.

$1 = Kshs 101

IMF Laments Interest Rate Caps

The IMF has released a statement following its latest discussions with Kenya government officials. It notes that the

“The IMF team expressed concern that the recent amendments to the Banking Act that set limits on deposit and lending rates are likely to have an adverse impact on Kenya’s economy. While these amendments aim to reduce the cost of borrowing and increase the return on savings, international experience shows that interest rate controls are ineffective and give rise to unintended negative consequences. These include reduced access to financing for small and medium-sized enterprises, and an increase in informal and predatory lending at much higher interest rates. Interest rate limits could also reverse the remarkable increase in financial inclusion that has benefited a large proportion of Kenya’s population. These adverse effects could lead to lower economic growth and undermine efforts to reduce poverty. In addition, interest rates limits undermine the effectiveness of monetary policy aimed at ensuring price stability and supporting sustainable economic growth.

that said the law is here and so far banks have complied, and not challenged the law. They are also releasing their Q3 results, but the full impact of the law will not become apparent till the end fo the year when more details are released such as the number and type of new loans issued in 2016.