Tag Archives: kenya

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.

Biggest Banking Stories of 2016

Some are carry-overs from 2015, but still having an impact on the banking sector in 2016 include:

1. The shutdown of Chase Bank in April 2016 came after a 24-hour period that started with a second set of 2014 financial accounts published in unclear circumstances in a newspaper, with different figures. Whether this was due to a reclassification of Shariah loans or (insider) director lending was never explained, but it accelerated an ongoing run of withdrawals and the Central Bank had to close the bank the next day. While it reopened a few weeks later with funding from the central bank (channeled through KCB), and depositors have been able to access some of their funds, the bank is not back to its full standing (it’s till not lending in full, and there’s a moratorium on depositors interest) and  new investors are being sought to enable the bank to stand on its own from April 2017.

2 Njomo Bill: In a rare bi-partisan move, usually reserved for their own salary raises, members of parliament rallied around to take on an even less popular target – that of super profit making, high-interest rate, banks with the Njomo bill. This was the latest attempt to rein in interest rates and the president surprisingly signed the bill, passing on a hot potato which was expected to lead to a slowdown in lending and make banks less attractive to investors.

3. Governor Patrick Njoroge at the Central Bank. Widely admired by the public for his no-nonsense enforcement & understanding of rules, supervision, austerity, and honestly to clean up the banking sector, but vilified in some circles for his unreasonable decision-making that has seen three banks close under his watch.

4. Last year Imperial Bank closure was a shock, and in 2016 the extent of the shell is still becoming clear through numerous court documents pitting the receivers, regulators, shareholders, some customers and even the family of the later managing director who engineered the fraud. But all that pained depositors want to know is, where is the money, how much money is there, and when will they get paid?

5. Lax government banking. From not following up whistleblowers on Family, Chase and Imperial, to a reluctance to act on South Sudan leaders. From double payments to government contractors, to county and national governments having dozens of banks accounts for inexplicable reasons. From a parastatal moving to a single signatory and withdrawing all its’ funds to pay a fictitious contract, and the funny banking of NYS money by Josephine Kabura at Family Bank. The anti-fraud / anti-money laundering/ anti-terror rules are  not being observed.