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.
Yesterday there was forum on renewable energy in Nairobi. It was organized by the Embassy of France and the Kenya government to show executives from French energy companies opportunities to invest in renewables and other energy projects in Kenya and Africa. Aqylon, Engie, GreenYellow, Quadran, Sogea Satom, Total , UrbaSolar, Vegrent, and Vinci representatives were part of the group.
French companies built hydro dams in Kenya
- Large silent corporations include Engie which produces 3 GW in Africa and Vinci which has EUR 800 million of revenue, and 14,000 staff in Africa.
- SUNREF from AFD/KAM provides tailored finance for green energy to Kenyan companies through Bank of Africa, CBA, Diamond Trust and Cooperative Bank. 11 companies have now been financed, and some that have got SUNREF green energy finance include KTDA, Meru dairy, Strathmore University, and Redland Roses.
- Kenya has 10 independe power producers (IPP’s) producing 650 MW (28%) of its electricity – shows how vibrant it is for investors.
- Regional electricity sharing in future: Kenya produces 2,200 MW, Ethiopia 4,284 MW (90% from hydro), Tanzania 1,583 MW (65% from thermal), and Uganda 900 MW (80% from hydro)
- GreenYellow works with factory, malls, hotels, to finance & build (heat/cold/solar/light) systems that reduce their energy costs by 30%
- UrbaSolar is working with Kenyatta University on a 100% self-consumption plant that will reduce electricity bills by 80% (20% is night).
- Total is constructing a 40 MW solar plant at Isiolo with Green Millenia, while Kenya’s rural electrification authority (REA) has got funding to do a 50 MW one near Garissa.
- KenGen which provides 80% of Kenya’s electricity, has tendered for an Olkaria 5 plant, and will build an industrial park there.
- There’s opportunity in Kenya off-grid & mini grid electricity, but there’s no legal framework for integrating with the national grid integration & projects sometimes face land acquisition or compensation delays.
- Solar has not picked up in Kenya, but with drop of photovoltaic prices, there’s lots of interest here now – Energy Permanent Secretary J. Njoroge told the companies.. He also said renewable energy is intermittent – it can only be used up to a certain % of Kenya’s electricity grid supply. Later there was mention of CSP solar plants which are more complex & expensive than traditional PV ones which but do give stable solar electricity.
Kenya has been called a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship.
But is it really and will it transform Kenya? The World Bank does seem to think so. In a report titled “From Economic Growth to Jobs & Shared Prosperity” – released this week, and in comments by Apurva Sanghi, World Bank Lead Economist & Program Leader, it stated that while some Kenyan firms are more innovative than China, Malaysia, India ones, in terms on products and processes:
- The innovation is small and incremental.
- Kenya’s management capacity, while high for Africa, still lags that of China and India.
- Only 3% of local firms buy licenses and patents.
- Few companies invest in R&D (only 26% of firms).
- Few new products are introduced in Kenya (only 12% of firms introduced new products).
Found this interesting booklet from the 1980’s. It’s out of print but glancing at some pages, it has some interesting perspective in terms of things to come (excerpts in italics):
- Government Used to Love the World Bank and Hate the International Monetary Fund: (but) one result of the struggle with stabilization and structural adjustment has been a reversal of the government relations with the bank and the fund..Kenyan officials contemplate an application to the fund with reluctance, they regard negotiations as unnecessary taxing, tie up lots of top officials and are short-term in gains. Relations with the World Bank were preferred but now things are changing; (in 1983) the World Bank announced it was withholding the second tranche of its structural adjustment loan pending fulfillment of conditions attached to the loan. At the same time the IMF singled out Kenya as an example of an economy where effective adjustment policies had brought down inflation and promoted economic growth, and an IMF Survey reported that Kenya’s efforts to reduce domestic and external imbalances (pzrticlulary under the current economic adjustment program), have met with considerable success.
Some Kenya Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP’s)
- Top Technocrats speak the same language as the IMF: While relations with the World Bank are strained, those with the IMF have blossomed. New appointments have helped this including George Saitoti who replaced the unhappy Arthur Magugu as Finance Minister in 1983 and he called for larger IMF loans, moderation in import legislation and exchange rate flexibility. So does the governor the central bank, Phillip Ndegwa, whose recent collection of papers includes one on the virtues of exchange rate fluctuation.
- The tourism plans were considered ambitious: The target for 1988 was 724,000 tourists for 1988 (35% above the 1985 figure).
- Oil Price Trends are in Kenya’s Favour
- Annual growth rate (target) for 1970 to 1983 was reduced from 6.3 to 5.4% since population growth was estimated (since the 1979 census) at 3.9%, not 3.5%
- Fiscal & Monetary Reforms Proposed: Attempts to tighten control of government expenditure and reduce tax evasion would be accompanied by attempts to shift deficit financing from the CBK to commercial banks. There would also be upward adjustment of interest rates to stimulate increased savings..
The World Bank launched the 12th edition of the #KenyaEconomicUpdate in Nairobi today.
- John Randa of World Bank Kenya said they still predict Kenya will grow at 5.4% this year, and it’s economy is sustainable
- He said In the last 4 years, Kenya government expenditure has grown 7%, while revenue has grown 2%..this is not sustainable
- Also that when agriculture performs, the Kenya economy performs (but there are people who say agriculture is inconsequential)
- But the government getting more revenue from income tax, but what is coming from VAT is declining. Also that stocks in Nakumatt aisles are like those in SA, and perhaps Treasury should consider excise tax on unnecessary imports
- Interbanks have been volatile, but less so than it was in 2011 (Arab Spring) and if all tools are used, volatility can be managed, but with better communication to investors – and that while public debt is rising it’s still sustainable. 50% is not cast in stone, it is unofficial
- He said exports are a drag, that are falling behind as a share of GDP since 2011, while imports have remained the same. With the stagnation of manufacturing sector, exports are not growing. Kenya has to fix exports as that’s the only solution for the manufacturing sector. Past incentives don’t seem to have worked and while most manufactured products go to the region, there is completion from India and China – while local companies face poor transport, high input, and high credit cost. Still the government has r out several initiatives to help like easier business registration, infrastructure investments and the port improvements.
Government Spending has gone from Kshs 696 billion in 2011/12 to 1.5 trillion in 2015/16
- But increased spending is not all due to counties. In 2012-13 national government was 24% of (XX), today it’s 26%.
- They will have to make some cuts by looking at discretional spending – and there is a lot of space to cut in the 2 trillion budget e.g. obscure roads and also from the duplication of functions at both the national and county governments – such as the health ministry whose budget has not trimmed despite health being devolved to counties.
- The SGR, whose full impact will be seen in a few years, has already boosted GDP by 1.5%, according to the IMF.
Micah Cheserem, the former Central Bank Governor, and current Chairman of the Commission for Revenue Allocation, also made some remarks. He was introduced as having been appointed to the Central Bank (CBK) when Kenya had turbulence in 1993 and CBK went on to take the Kenya shilling from 82 to the dollar to 38 in 2 years.
- If choosing between weak shilling or high rates, choose low-interest rates & let the market set the currency rates. If someone bought a flat in Lavington at 15%, they won’t afford it if the bank raises the mortgage rate to 25%.
- The World Bank Kenya should do more county reporting and see what the 4.1% funding to counties has done. When this goes to 40%, this might be Switzerland
- Government should release money & not disturb county pilots. Nairobians should travel & see changes from devolution. For many Northern Kenya counties (Turkana, Samburu, Mandera, Wajir), independence came in 2013, not 1963 and there’s no going back. Despite challenges & noise, devolution is working, and in 2.5 years, counties have done more things in some places than the national government in 50 years.
County Finance: County leaders woke up to citizen participation in budgeting only after a court invalidated the Kiambu govt budget (quoting a Turkana county leader in a World Bank Kenya video)
- Perception of success of devolution are tied to development – it is positive where there is infrastructure development. Kenyans care and judge development by roads and health facilities.
- Counties are still failing in sharing budget info as per the PFM act – e.g. finformation should put on web. They say uptake on the website it poor, but they are not making budget available via other sources,. Still the council of genres have put up all 47 county development place on the council website.
Other: Terry Ryan said, if you take out the ( Kenya Airways – one time purchase) airplanes, Kenya’s current account deficit comes down significantly.