Tag Archives: Africa Rising

Atlas Mara Prospectus Peek

Atlas Mara is selling 44.44 million new shares at $2.25 each to raise $100 million. Atlas Mara is acquiring 13.4% equity in Union Bank Nigeria (UBN), from Clermont Group for $55 million, increasing its stake to 44.5%.

This offer aims to raise $30 million from Fairfax Africa (a Canadian investment holding company that is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange) by selling them 13.33 million shares at $2.25 each. Fairfax will also sign up for $100 million of mandatory convertible bonds due in 2018. It is intended that the funds raised from the issue of the mandatory convertible bonds will be used to fully fund the UBN purchase and the remainder be used to fund the bank (expansion of the market, treasury and fintech business lines and product offerings) and participate in the UBN rights issue.

Atlas Mara is a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (largely a tax-free territory – no income, withholding or capital gains taxes) and is the holding company for a group that provides bank and financial services across sub-Saharan Africa which they intend to disrupt. Atlas Mara was formed in November 2013 by Atlas Merchant Capital LLC and the Mara Group, led by Robert E. Diamond Jr. and Ashish J. Thakkar, respectively. In 2016, Atlas Mara had $2.7 billion assets and $ 9 million profit in 2016.

Africa footprint: Besides UBN, they also own 100% of Finance Bank of Zambia (the 5th largest bank in Zambia, serving 2 million people), and 62.1% of Banque Populaire du Rwanda (swelled by a merger with BRD Commercial Bank). Also ABC Holdings – Botswana (owned 62.13% by the Company and 37.87% by Atlas Mara Financial) owns 100% of African Banking Corporation Zambia, 100% of ABC Holdings (Zimbabwe), 68% of Tanzania Development Finance Corporation, 97% of African Banking Corporation of Tanzania, 100% of African Banking Corporation of Mozambique SA, and 100% of African Banking Corporation of Botswana

Atlas shareholders are Guggenheim Partners Investment Management (11.22%) Wellington Management Company, LLP (9.91%) Owl Creek Asset Management, LP (7.99%), Trafigura Holding (6.23%), UBS Asset Management: O’Connor (8.10%) Janus Capital Management LLC (3.92%). Of the founders, Atlas – AFS Partners LLC has 0.5% and Mara Partners FS has 0.13% while Mr. Diamond beneficially owns 1,000,000 Founder Preferred Shares and Mr. Thakkar beneficially owns 250,000 Founder Preferred Shares.

UBN is a mid-tier bank with about 3% market share of assets and loans and deposits in Nigeria. It was established in 1917 and rescued from insolvency in 2009 along with other banks. It now has 3 million customers, 900 ATM’s and 414,000 mobile banking users and, in 2017, UBN  signed agreements with Visa and MasterCard

UBN Plans: While Atlas Mara is not going for a majority stake in UBN (though they may choose to do this), they will;
– Push UBN to be a leading Tier II bank in Nigeria
– This will be done using fintech and treasury initiatives
– They will use UBN to secure more lending
– After 2019, they will push UBN to be a Tier I bank by acquiring another Nigerian bank

Risks facing UBN: Nigeria has recently experienced significant depreciation of the Naira, inflation and economic recession. Also, UBN’s loan book is exposed to the oil and gas sector which comprises 47% of its lending. Also, there is currently a 12.9% free float of UBN’s shares, which is below the mandatory 20% free float requirement prescribed by the Nigerian Stock Exchange Listing Rules.

Fees: $1.9 million will be paid to Atlas Merchant Capital LLC, the investment fund co-founded by Bob Diamond, upon completion of the transaction.

The deal deadline is 29 August.

Extracts from the Atlas Mara prospectus.

EDIT August 30 Atlas Mara is pleased to announce the closing of the offer period for the recently launched Placing and the Open Offer on 29 August 2017. The Placing and Open Offer, together with the recently announced strategic investment from Fairfax Africa (comprising a Mandatory Convertible Bond and a Firm Placing) constitutes “the Strategic Financing”. The Strategic Financing will support Atlas Mara’s growth initiatives in the acquisition of additional equity interests in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc (“UBN”) and scaling up the Markets and Treasury and Fintech business lines. ..Bob Diamond, Chairman of the Board of Atlas Mara, said: “We are thrilled to have Fairfax Africa as our long-term partner. This transaction puts Atlas Mara in a very strong position to deliver on our strategic goals. We remain focused on execution and delivering on cost discipline and profitability.”

M&A Moment: July 2017

Various recent deals in the last few weeks and months in East Africa – compared to 2016 and 2015

Banking and Finance: Finance, Law, & Insurance

  • Commercial Bank of Africa (Kenya) is acquiring 100% of Crane Bank Rwanda from DFCU of Uganda
  • Direct Pay Online Group acquired 100% of Virtual Card Service in Botswana and Namibia. This will be followed by the acquisition of 100% of VCS business in South Africa (via Balancing Act Africa)
  • emase Bank suitors announced by the Business Daily – are led by Societe General, and State Bank of Mauritius (who have also just completed acquisition of Fidelity Bank)
  • Barclays PLC sold 22% of Barclays Africa
  • KCB was linked to another bid for NBK, although the CMA denied any knowledge of such a deal.
  • Kuramo Capital, the largest shareholder of Transcentury is acquiring 25% of Sterling Capital stockbrokers, the second largest bond trader in the country
  • Diamond Trust to acquire Habib Bank Kenya for shares worth Kshs 1.82 billion (~$18 million). EDIT At the end of July, the Competition Authority approved the deal on condition that Diamond Trust retains at least 41 employees of Habib Bank post transaction and the Central Bank communicated that the deal would be concluded on 1st August when Habib would cease to exist as a licensed bank.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of a minority stake of 10.68% of I&M Holdings by CDC Group PLC together with certain veto rights.
  • I&M Holdings also has announced the successful completion of merger of Giro Commercial Bank
  • Carlyle to acquire Global Credit Rating Co. (South Africa)
  • Letshego Holdings Limited (Botswana) acquires afb Ghana
  • Atlas Mara to acquire 13.4% equity in United Bank Nigeria, from Clermont Group for $55 million, increasing its stake to 44.5%
  • Sanlam Group has completed the acquisition of majority stake in PineBridge Investments East Africa Limited. PIEAL is a leading asset management company in East Africa with operations in Kenya and Uganda – and the competition authority approved this at the end of July.
  • EDIT Alexander Forbes Kenya to change name & brand (to Zamara) after a change of shareholding to comply with new pension law that caps foreign ownership to a maximum of 40%.

Beauty & Pharma/Chem

  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorized the acquisition of Dan Pharmacie by Mimosa Pharmacy.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorized the acquisition of Sole Control of Syngenta AG (Syngenta) by China National Agrochemical Corporation (CNAC).
  • The Authority excludes the proposed acquisition of 72% of the issued share capital of Chemserve Cleaning Services Limited by Eye Level Exposure Limited from Part IV of the Act .. (their) combined turnover of KSh. 138,076,904 is below the required merger threshold for mandatory notification
  • Abraaj Group gets approval to acquire 75% of Healthlink Management (Nairobi Women’s hospital?)
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has approved the proposed acquisition of 100% of the issued share capital of Monsanto Kenya by Bayer Aktiengesellschar/KWA Investment. Businessman Chris Kirubi revealed that he holds a 45% stake in agrochemical firm Bayer East Africa.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of the shares in the Dow Chemical Company by Dowdupont Inc. and the Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of the shares in E. I. Du Pont De Numerous and Company by Dowdupont Inc.
  • A local drug store is set to be acquired for Sh. 2 billion. Imperial Health Sciences, which based along Mombasa Road will be acquired by South African investment firm Mara Delta Property Holdings. “The facility will be leased back to Imperial Health Sciences on a 10-year triple net basis, denominated in US$ and guaranteed by Imperial Holdings Limited.”
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorised the acquisition by Kibo Plastic Packaging of a minority (14.02%) shareholding with controlling interest in Blowpast Limited.
  • EDIT Japanese Kansai Plascon Africa has acquired local paint maker Sadolin for Kshs 10 billion.

Food & Beverage

  • Africa’s largest Coca-Cola bottler- Coca-Cola Beverages Africa Proprietary Limited (CCBA) has acquired Equator Bottlers, the third largest Coca-Cola bottler in Kenya. Equator Bottlers, was previously a subsidiary of Kretose Investments Limited owned by the Shah family, has been one of several authorized Coca-Cola Bottlers, which supply products in the Western regions of Kenya. It was established in 1966 and is based in Kisumu. EDIT  At the end of July, the Competition Authority authorized the deal on condition that the merged entity retains at least 2,279 employees post-transaction and that Coca Cola file a compliance report in two years.

  • The Abraaj Group is to acquire 100% of Java House Group from Emerging Capital Partners – the story was first broken at Wallace Kantai’s blog and the deal is said to be worth about $130 million. Java House Group was established in Nairobi in 1999. In 2012, Emerging Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in the Company, with the founder retaining a minority stake. ECP has helped Java House grow from 13 shops in Nairobi into East Africa’s largest casual dining brand, building an ‘eat-out’ culture. Today, it has an unrivalled regional footprint of 60 stores across 10 cities in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
  • Catalyst Principal Partners has, through a newly established firm, Britania Foods Limited, acquired the business and operations of Jambo Biscuits Ltd, being a leading biscuits manufacturer in Kenya with its flagship “Britania” brand.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorized the acquisition of assets of Wanainchi Marine Products (Kenya) by One Holdings.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorized the acquisition of Sosco Fishing Industries by One Holdings.
  • Distell, Africa’s leading producer of spirits, wines, ciders and ready-to-drinks (RTDs) continues to ramp up its investment on the African continent, with the acquisition of a further 26.43% in KWA Holding East Africa Limited (KWAL), Kenya’s foremost spirits manufacturer and distributor, from Centum Investment Company Limited. The African liquor giant now owns a majority shareholding of 52.43% in KWAL, having previously acquired a 26% stake from Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC) in 2014.
  • Netherlands-based private equity firm DOB Equity announced that in which in December 2016 that it had acquired a stake in Kenya’s Countryside Dairy, a Nyahururu-based facility with a processing capacity of 100,000 litres of milk per day.
  • Amethis and Metier to acquire East African FMCG firm, Kenafric Industries.. Two private equity funds have bought a 40% minority stake in Kenafric Industries as the firm eyes regional growth…popular products under the confectionery and culinary segments include Fresh brand of chewing gum and Oyo food additive. It also manufactures snacks and ready-to-drink juices at its plant in Nairobi’s Baba Dogo. The business, started 30 years ago by Velji Punja Shah and his four sons, is looking to increase its coverage of other East African countries, saying it currently sells 45% of its products outside Kenya.  
  • EDIT: The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorised the proposed acquisition of indirect control of Weetabix East Africa by Post Holdings through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Westminster Acquisition.
  • EDIT:  Twiga Foods, the Kenyan business-to-business food supply platform announced today that it has successfully raised a Series A funding round including $6.3 million in equity and $4 million in debt instruments.
    • The round was led by Wamda Capital and includes Omidyar Network, DOB Equity, Uqalo, 1776, Blue Haven Initiative, Alpha Mundi, and AHL.
    • Today, Twiga is the largest distributor of several basic food staples in Kenya, having sold over 55 million bananas alone and delivering over 4,000 orders a week.
    • Additional to the Series A round closing, Twiga closed some $2 million in grant funding from USAID, GSMA, and others to support bolt-on farmer services, financial inclusion, and first of their kind domestic food safety initiatives.

Hotels/Tourism

  • Simba Corporation acquired a 35% minority stake in Hemingways Holdings and plans to grow from its current three properties: the Olare Mara and Villa Rosa managed by world leading hoteliers, Kempinski, and Acacia Premier Kisumu, as Hemingways is the parent company of three iconic properties that represent the definitive portfolio of luxury travel in Kenya: Hemingways Watamu, Ol Seki Hemingways Mara and Hemingways Nairobi. The transaction also includes Express Travel Group, a subsidiary of Hemingways that provides comprehensive and high quality travel management services through its international franchise partnerships with American Express Global Business Travel and Europcar International as well as through Hemingways Expeditions, a premium Destination Management Company. EDIT: The competition authority approved the deal at the end of July.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorized the proposed acquisition of control of Abercrombie & Kent Kenya (Abercrombie) by Yan Zhao Global, from A&K Cayman L.P and other minority shareholders
  • Thomas Cook India acquired Kuoni Travel specialists in 17 countries (includes Private Safaris E.A. in Kenya)
  • Accor Hotels will relaunch Tune hotel under the ibis Styles brand.
  • Older hotels – 680 and Boulevard, two older iconic Nairobi hotels have been recently bought by the Deputy President, William S. Ruto.

Logistics, Engineering, & Agri-Biz

  • Isuzu will become a 57.7% shareholder in Isuzu East Africa through the purchase of General Motors’ shareholding in the business. The other shareholders will remain as Kenya’s Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (20%), Centum Investments (17.8%) and Itochu Corporation (4.5 %). EDIT: At the end of July, the Competition Authority of Kenya authorised the deal on condition that the merged entity absorbs all 383 GMEA employees, continues after-sales service of all the vehicle brands, Isuzu and Chevrolet sold and leased by GMEA for duration of all the after-sales service contracts, honours all existing dealership agreements between GMEA and its dealers, and communicates to all GMEA customers on the continuation of after-sales service.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorized the proposed subscription for 24.99% shareholding in Trans-Century with 100% of the redeemable preference shares in TC Mauritius Holdings by Kuramo Africa Opportunity Kenyan Vehicle.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorized the transfer of 50% of the issued shares in Safal Building Systems to Mabati Rolling Mills.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of 100% of Kenya Kazi by Gardaworld
  • Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the company that runs the century-old Kenya-Uganda railway, has moved to court in a last-minute effort to stop the concession manager, Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), from terminating its 25-year contract.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of Reunert Limited of 75.39% of the ordinary shares in Metal Fabricators of Zambia PLC.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of 40.7% of the ordinary shares and control of ARM Cement Limited by CDC Africa Cement.
  • Crown Paints to buy back 15% of its stock, the first company to do this.. now allowed by Kenya’s new companies law.
  • EDIT Athi River Mining is selling its Mavuno Fertilizer subsidiary to Omya and Pinner Heights to focus on its cement business.

Oil/Energy

  • German-based solar electrification firm Mobisol has acquired pay-as-you-go off-grid (PAYG) solar industry software firm Lumeter.
  • Hass Petroleum sold a 40% stake to Oman Trading International to fund growth in Eastern Africa
  • Tullow Oil plc sold stakes in Uganda to Total Oil for $900M, and will retain 10% of that and of a $3.5 billion pipeline through Tanzania
  • Vitol Africa gets approval to acquire 19.91% of Vivo Energy from Shell Overseas Investments
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of indirect control in Dalbit Petroleum by Humphrey Kariuki Ndegwa.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of the retail petroleum business of Hashi Energy by Lake Oil
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of the retail petroleum business of Hashi Energy Limited by Lake Oil Limited
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of 100% of Gulf African Petroleum Corporation by Total Outre-Mer S. A. on condition that Total Outre-Mer S. A. comply with the following hospitality and employment conditions— including All agreements remain in force with relation to the Mombasa Terminal; and the merging parties are limited in the termination of employees of Gulf African Petroleum.
  • PIC South Africa will take up all shares not taken up in the Kengen Kshs 4.4 billion on offer. The South African government employees pension giant with $133 billion of assets will take up 351.2 million new shares at Kshs 6.55 each (totaling Kshs 2.30 billion) as other shareholders get diluted by 5.33% each e.g. The Kenya Government which was a 74% shareholder before, will have 70% afterwards.

Real Estate & Supermarkets

  • The Competition Authority of Kenya authorized the proposed joint venture between Helios Investment Partners and certain shareholders of Acorn Group.
  • Cytonn Investments Management (Kenya) to acquire a $10 million stake in Superior Homes.
  • Konza Tech City is seeking investors to apply for land to build campuses, BPO’s, offices, hotels, and student housing etc.
  • China Wu Yi acquires Sh530m Kilifi land.
  • In April last year, Mara bought a 45.5% stake in Naivasha-based Buffalo Mall for Sh. 440 million. Mara has valued its investment in Buffalo Mall at $6 million (Sh. 603 million), implying a capital gain of Sh. 163 million in less than a year. The mall now brings in 2% of the multinational’s total revenues and represents 2% of its assets. The property is however yet to make a profit, with the six months ended December showing a pre-tax loss of Sh.2.8 million.
  • EDIT  Uchumi expects to conclude a deal with an investor that is worth Kshs 3.5 billion of new shares.

Telecommunications, Media & Publishing

  • Vodafone sold a 35% stake in Safaricom to South Africa’s Vodacom (link)
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of certain passive infrastructure of East Africa Towers by Kenya Towers.
  • Catalyst Principal Partners has acquired a significant minority interest in Kensta Group, a 52-year-old East African printing and packaging company Kensta Group manages a diverse set of companies within East Africa namely Transpaper (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda), Express Automation (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda), Vivid Printing Equipment, Fusion Inks, Zenith Rubber Rollers and Phiramid (Zambia).
  • Kenyan IT multinational Craft Silicon has acquired a Sh51.5 million minority stake in restaurants listing portal EatOut, marking its second major backing of a local tech company. Craft Silicon is a founder-shareholder of Little, which is also backed by local telco giant Safaricom. (via Business Daily)
  • Deal undone: Ghafla Kenya CEO Samuel Majani spoke about how a Ghafla merger with Ringier unraveled and on a lot of the intricacies of the issues such as exclusivity, assets & liabilities, dealing with partners & other shareholders, and on merging staff, customers & systems.
  • Deal undone: a Merger with JamboPay was unstuck after a court finding, and the founder of JamboPay, the firm that supplies Nairobi County’s e-payments platform, won a protracted battle against a rival firm over use of its trade name.
  • Mara Social Media acquired global Instant Messaging & communications platform “Nimbuzz” which has over 200 million users and is available for Android, iPhone, and Symbian, MIDP, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and PC & MAC clients
  • Film Studios has been acquired by MoSound
  • MTN is to acquire MultiChoice Africa – owners of @DSTV & GoTV
  • EDIT The Competition Authority authorised the proposed acquisition of fibre optic cable from Bandwith  & Cloud Services Group by Safaricom.
  • EDIT Safaricom’s $1 million Safaricom Spark Venture Fund announced its sixth and final investment in agri-tech startup iProcure – which seeks to increase agricultural output in Kenya, which has remained comparatively low to other countries due to challenges including access to and use of quality inputs. Other invests include FarmDrive, Sendy, and mSurvey.
  • EDIT IFC invests Sh619m ($6 million) in mobile tech firm Africa’s Talking  with the funds earmarked for the company’s expansion in Africa beyond the current seven markets where it has a presence.

     

Other

  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the acquisition of Section Investment by Kisima Management.
  • The Competition Authority of Kenya has authorized the proposed acquisition of 43.8% of Kinetic Holdings by Catalyst Kinetic Investments.

$1 = Kshs 103

Moody’s Debt Summit Nairobi

Moody’s 4th annual East Africa investor summit Kenya, held in association with Rich Management, looked at East Africa’s resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa’s low growth environment.

Excerpts

Economic growth:

  • Kenya and Nigeria summit audience think political risks are main challenge to credit in emerging markets. Dubai summit ones are watching USA (policies under Trump and China (economic slowdown) events
  • Between 2007-15, 6 of 10 fastest growing African economies were commodity exporters, but for 2016-18, 5 of fastest growing ones are in East Africa. While Sub-Saharan Africa growth is at a 20-year low, East Africa is attractive as their growth is not about commodities.
  • Kenya’s economy growing due to infrastructure, FDI, population but banks not benefiting, partly due to the interest rate cap.
  • Investors in Kenya want to see a benign August 8 election with a first round winner and a gracious loser.

Bank’s and interest rate:

  • Banks face a dilemma – on whether to lend to companies in the Kenya economy or to the Kenya government (where they can earn 10% per year short-term, or 14% in the long-term).
  • There was already a slowdown in bank lending (due to regulation and NPA’s) before the interest rate caps.
  • The Cost of borrowing in Kenya was too high; and even after interest rate caps, large banks are still getting good 20% returns on equity.
  • Some firms are opportunistically raising debt – locking in cheap funding ahead of the election e.g. East African Breweries announced they would build a brewery at Kisumu even as they are yet to agree on the financing. But the problems at Nakumatt are probably due to the drying up of their credit lines as banks feel 14% lending does not compensate their risk.
  • At Moody’s, they rate three large Kenya banks – Coop Bank, Equity Bank and KCB Group all equally. Equity has 55% SME exposure and KCB is big in property, while Coop is well-balanced between business and consumer lending – but they have all taken steps to mitigate risks from the interest rate cap law.

Africa Debt markets

  • While Moody’s recently upgraded Senegal and Ivory Coast and stabilized Ghana, 8 of 19 Sub-Saharan Africa economics are still rated negative.
  • South Africa preempts state corporation defaults through bailouts – e.g. at Eskom, SAA – but this doesn’t inspire business confidence.
  • East Africa economies have solid reserves (4-5 months of imports) but key risks are fiscal deficits and debt accumulation (50% debt to GDP is a warning point).
  • One of the best performing Eurobonds in Mozambique defaulted.. a flood of money can ignore fundamentals

Kenya’s Debt

  • Kenya has a history of debt going back over the last ten years.. it knows how to live with the debt. Currently 15 to 17% of Kenya’s income goes to pay debt – (Moody’s get data from government budgets or IMF)
  • The London Stock Exchange, and some European ones, are considering issuing some debt in Kenya shillings.
  • Kenya can do better in terms of exports & revenue e.g. by improving productivity – the government explained this to the IMF.

Using the AMIB50 ETF to track Africa Investments

A new fund offers South African investors a chance to invest in 50 large, non-South African companies that are listed on other exchanges and in other countries across Africa. The AMI Big50 ex-SA AMIB50  ETF (exchange traded fund) was launched at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on April 20.

The ETF is promoted by investment firm – Cloud Atlas Investing and targets institutional and retail investors, offering them a way to invest away from the Rand and South Africa. The current basket of the fund is composed of Itissalat Al Maghrib (Maroc Telecom) (20.6% of the fund), Coml.Intl.Bank (Egypt) (11%), Lafargeholcim Maroc, Guaranty Trust Bank, Safaricom (4.3%), Nigerian Breweries, Tanzania Breweries, Mcb Group Ltd, Attijariwafa Bank and Delta.

In terms of countries, exposure to Morocco 28.4%, Egypt 19.3%, Nigeria 13.7% and Kenya 11%, and for sectors, the spread is banking shares 29.3%, telecom firms 27.8%, food & beverage 17.7%, and industrial ones 14.6%.

Investors need to have a brokerage or custody account in South Africa to buy the AMIB50 and the fund management fee is a total of 1.17% per year.

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.