Category Archives: CBK

Coronavirus in Kenya: Week One

The Outbreak

  • March 13: The Ministry of Health confirms the first case of coronavirus in Kenya on March 12 from a Kenyan citizen who returned to the country from the USA via London 
  • March 22: Kenya confirms 8 new cases, bringing the total number to 15. It is tracing 363 other people and institutes a mandatory shutdown of major social activities in the country. 

Banking Industry:

  • March 15: President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed to banks and mobile operators to reduce the costs of mobile transactions and calls on Kenyans to use credit cards, mobile money and other forms of cashless payments. 
  • March 16: Safaricom waived fees for M-Pesa payments below Kshs 1,000 (~$10) for 90 days and raises M-Pesa transactions limits to Kshs 150,000 and also increases daily transaction caps and maximum mobile money wallet sizes up to Kshs 300,000 ($3,000). Airtel and Telkom Kenya follow suit a day later. 
  • March 18: Bankers meet the President at State House where the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor announces that all commercial bank personal loans that were there in good standing on March 2, are eligible for extensions for up to one year while SME and corporate borrowers can approach their banks to be assessed for loan restructuring, with the cost borne by banks. Also, that banks would no longer charge fees for customers to check their bank balances.
  • Different banks announced their compliance with the new rules.   
  • March 19: The Kenya Bankers Association confirms that all banks will assist clients who come in to speak about how COVID-19 has affected their employment or business operations, and whose loan repayments were up to date as at 2 March 2020. They also ask all customers to observe 1-metre (or 3 feet) social distancing at branches
  • March 20: The CBK announces presents Kshs 7.4 billion ($74 million) to the Government to support the coronavirus fight efforts. This it says are the proceeds from the demonetization exercise that concluded in September 2019 and is the sum of (old) Kshs 1,000 notes that were not turned in and which the CBK had classified as being miscellaneous receipts. 

Famous People in Quarantine

  • March 18: Senator for Kericho County Aaron Cheruiyot announces on twitter that he is in self-quarantine. 
  • March 19: Members of Parliament and Parliamentary staff who arrived from London on March 9 are reported to be in self-quarantine. 
  • March 19: Ambassador Macharia Kamau Kenya’s Principal Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces on twitter that he is in self-quarantine after returning from New York. 
  • March 20: Jane Marriott, the British High Commissioner to Kenya announces on twitter that she is in self-quarantine, following her trip to the UK. 
  • March 22: Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health announces that Gideon Saburi, the Deputy Governor of Kilifi County, has been apprehended and put in a mandatory 14-day quarantine after he failed to isolate himself after returning from a trip to Germany. Also that he will be charged in Court after his isolation period. 

Mandatory Quarantine in the Eastern Africa region 

  • March 18: Uganda announces immediate mandatory quarantine for arriving visitors, at their cost.  
  • March 21: Ethiopia announces mandatory for passengers arriving from March 23, at their cost. However, diplomats will be quarantined for 14 days at their embassies, while transiting passengers will be placed in isolation at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel until they resume their connecting flights.
  •  March 22: Kenya has suspended all international flights other than cargo from March 25. Also, all arriving passengers will undergo mandatory quarantine at a government institution at their own cost. 

Internal country shutdowns

  • March 14: Rwanda closes schools, places of worship, large gatherings, and asks people to work from home. 
  • March 15: Kenya’s President announced the Government has closed all schools, suspended official foreign travel, and will encourage all employees to work from home. 
  • March 18: Uganda closes schools, universities and bars, and bans weddings and religious services for a month. 
  • March 21: Rwanda closes its borders to movement of people and cancels international flights, other than cargo ones. It also suspended tourism and research in 3 national parks where gorillas are found.
  • March 21: Nigeria shuts its airports to international flights as coronavirus cases reach 22.  
  • March 21: South Africa closes its airspace to foreign travelers.
  • March 22: Kenya orders a suspension of religious services at all places of worship, closure of bars and bans gatherings including weddings, and birthday parties. Restaurants are to remain open for delivery services and funeral events are restricted to a maximum of 15 mourners.

Flight cancellations/ Airlines reschedulings:

  • March 17: Kenya Airways updates its schedule, reducing London flights to five times a week, Dubai & Johannesburg to once daily, and Johannesburg to two daily. It also suspends flights to Bangkok, Khartoum, Djibouti & Mogadishu. 
  • March 18: Rwanda announces a halt to all commercial passenger flights into/out of the country on March 20 including operations of Rwanda Air for 30 days. 
  • March 19: Kenya Airways suspends flights to Antananarivo, Bamako, Bangui, Blantyre, Brazzaville, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Luanda, Yaounde/Douala, and Zanzibar. 
  • March 20: Ethiopian Airlines announces 30 routes closures. The list is not revealed till the next day – and the listed countries include Egypt, Lebanon, Somalia, Djibouti, Namibia, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Chad, Madagascar, Angola, Congo, Mali, Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa, Canada, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Indonesia, Israel and all US ones. 
  • March 20: South African Airways immediately suspends all operations until the end of May following a government notice prohibiting the embarkation/disembarkation of non-SA crew and passengers. The only flights that will remain will be domestic service between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
  • March 22: Emirates announces cancellation of all passenger flights from March 25 .. but .. 
  • March 22: Turkish Airlines to suspend most of its flights – leaving just a handful of flights to New York, Washington, Addis Ababa, Moscow & Hong Kong (via AlexinAir).
  • March 22: Kenya Airways suspends all international flights. Cargo flights remain, as will passenger services to Mombasa and Kisumu. 

Corporate Restructuring’s: 

  • March 13: Trading was suspended at the Nairobi Securities Exchange. This came following news of the discovery of the first coronavirus case in Kenya and the main share index dropped by over 5%. Past instances when circuit-et breakers have been tripped include in the period of post-election violence in 2008, and in September 2017, on the day that Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the results of the August 8 presidential election. 
  • March 13: Kenya’s insurance regulator, IRA, communicates that insurance companies will continue to provide their services to policy holders affected or infected with the virus .. but insurance companies say their re-insurers do not cover pandemics such as Coronavirus. 
  • March 16: Ethiopian Airlines restructuring plans include scaling up cost-saving programmes and asking service providers for temporary relief, discounts and waivers. They have also started to renegotiate all contracts, including aircraft leases as well as scaling down offices and reducing staff.
  • March 16: Java adjusts seating and promotes delivery as do other restaurants. But many other restaurants closed. 
  • March 18: It was revealed that The Standard Group plans to lay off 170 workers. 
  • March 18: Churches to restrict attendance numbers.
  • March 18: The African Development Bank cancels all travels and requires staff to work from home. The Bank’s Board of Directors is reviewing the configuration and design of the Bank’s statutory Annual Meetings originally scheduled for May 26-29, 2020 in Abidjan
  • March 18: Kenyan listed companies and licensed investment schemes that were to host annual general meetings (AGM’s) in March, April and May 2020 have been asked to defer them to later dates.
  • March 20: Kenya Airways CEO sends a memo to staff following COVID-19 and writes that in the last 24 hours, nine countries in our Africa network, the UAE and India have announced travel restrictions. So far, we have reduced approximately 65% of our flights, and this is changing by the hour. He announces that instead of layoffs they will ask staff to take salary reduction and paid & unpaid leave. The leadership team and he will take 75% and 80% respectively, while that for other staff will be 25% or 50% depending on the pay grade.
  • To facilitate supermarket shopping home deliveries, Tuskys has partnered with Sendy and Naivas has partnered with Glovo.

Government Adjustments 

  • March 16: The Ministry of Lands closes all land registries for 28 days from March 17. 
  • March 16: Kenya’s Sports & Culture Ministry closes all museums, archives, stadiums, public libraries, and cinemas for 30 days.
  • March 18: Kenya’s National Assembly and Senate both go on a month-long recess. 
  • March 18: Kenyan courts embraced digital filings and rulings of cases. 
  • March 19: Public health campaign to stop the spread is launched. 

Uplifting News

  • March 21: A thread to help those losing jobs their jobs this week and to help match their skills with part-time or remote-work opportunities. 
  • March 22: The first shipment of medical relief equipment offered by the Jack Ma Foundation arrives in Africa for distribution to different countries. The total will be 500,000 test kits and one million masks had been pledged on March 13.

Co-Op Bank to acquire Jamii Bora

Kenya’s third-largest bank group Co-operative (Co-Op), which is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, has entered discussions to acquire 100% of Jamii Bora bank.

Co-op Bank has an asset base of Kshs 450 billion (~$4.5 billion) and 15 million customers while Jamii Bora has assets of Kshs 12.5 billion (~$125 million).

Kitale branch

Jamii Bora’s assets have been on the decline and it is ranked number 36 by asset size with about Kshs 5 billion of deposits and Kshs 8 billion of loans at last reporting. Three years ago it was to raise $12 million from Equator Capital Partners and Progression Capital Africa, and early last year Jamii Bora was linked to being acquired by CBA, but that appears to have been shelved after CBA merged with NIC.

It is owned by Asterisk Holdings, Equator Capital Partners, Jamii Bora Scandinavia, Catalyst JBB Holdings, Nordic Micro Cap Investments (PUBL-AB), has 650 other shareholders and the CEO owns 1% as the largest individual shareholder of the bank.

Jamii Bora had made a few unfortunate forays in the corporate space, and became the largest shareholder of a restructured Uchumi, with about 15% ownership. It also got swept into the Kenya Airways debt for equity swap.

Jamii Bora has about 350,000 customers and with 17 branches. It has a strategic niche with micro, small, and medium enterprises offering LPO financing, lease finance and trade finance services as well as training and meeting space to business owners at its headquarters in Kilimani.

Kenya unveils new currency banknotes with a demonetization shock

The President of Kenya unveiled new generation currency notes at the 2019 Madaraka Day Celebrations in Narok on June 1.

This was after a speech by the Governor of the Central Bank and comes after a case last year cleared the way for bank notes to be printed and also a few months after new coins had been unveiled. The Governor mentioned that there had been extensive public participation in the process which led to the themes of green energy, agriculture, social services, tourism and governance (an image of Parliament!) on the new notes.

The Governor also mentioned that Central Bank had observed that the Kshs 1,000 note (equivalent to about $10) was being used to illicit financial flows and is being counterfeited. They had therefore moved to withdraw the old Kshs 1,000 notes by October 1, 2019, after which they will no longer be legal to use.

Going by the recent wave of a government moves in Kenya, we can probably expect a few challenges to the decision in the Courts and Parliament that will delay the new notes rollout over issues like:

  • The image of a statue of the First President of Kenya remains prominent on every new note.
  • On the demonetization of old 1,000 shilling notes, Parliament’s Committee on Delegated Legislation will say that it should have approval over such a radical move.

EDIT  On Tuesday, June 3, the Governor of the CBK held a press conference where he announced modalities for the transition to the new currency which is already being issued to commercial banks:

  • Persons exchanging currency notes for amounts not exceeding Ksh.1 million of the withdrawn currency notes will exchange at their Commercial banks, CBK Branches and Currency Centres, or any nearest commercial bank. 
  • Bank customers exchanging currency notes for amounts Ksh.1 million to Ksh.5 million of the withdrawn currency notes will exchange at their respective commercial banks, under the normal procedures and requirements. 
  • Persons without bank accounts exchanging currency notes for amounts exceeding Ksh.1 million will require an endorsement from CBK. 
  • Persons exchanging currency notes for amounts exceeding Ksh.5 million (bulk exchange) will require an endorsement from CBK.

CBK launches Stawi SME pilot credit facility

The Central Bank of Kenya has launched a pilot credit facility targeting informal unbanked traders in partnership with local institutions.  This will be through an app, marketed under the name “Stawi”, that will initially be managed by five banks – Commercial Bank of Africa, Cooperative Bank, Diamond Trust, KCB Bank and NIC Group.

The pilot phase lasts two weeks and will involve 3,500 traders without bank accounts, who have turnover of Kshs 30,000 to Kshs 250,000 (~$2,500) per month and who are at least six months old. To register, besides providing their ID details, traders will need a valid business permit and an email address to create an account – this is an unusual as mobile apps just require a national ID number to match with the phone number of the loan applicant.

The businesses will be able to borrow between loans of Kshs 30,000 to 250,000 (~$2,500). Loan charges are at an interest of 9% per annum, plus a facility fee of 4%, insurance fee of 0.7% and excise tax on the facility fee – all adding up to about 14.5%.

Other features of Stawi:

  • Loans are repayable between 1 – 12 month and borrowers can top up loans once 80% has been repaid. Loans are only disbursed through the app as will all repayments be done
  • The loan rates are not cheap, but they are mild, and this program is targeted at the unregulated lenders who charge as much as 300% p.a. There was a draft financial markets conduct bill formulated to protect consumers from such practices.
  • There are also transfer fees and Stawi customers can also link up with Pesalink which allows much greater daily transfer amounts (up to Kshs 1 million) than the mobile money wallets.  
  • For now, there is no Stawi in the Google store as the program is still in a test phase. (There is an app called Stawika that has no affiliation)
  • A second round of the pilot will target 10,000 other traders.

While trying to forestall the arrival of interest rate caps back in 2016, banks, through their umbrella Kenya Bankers Association committed to set aside Kshs 30 billion for lending to SME’s including Kshs 10 billion to micro-enterprises owned by women and youth and lend to them at no more than 14%. They also committed to rank borrowers by high, medium and low risk and to work to reward low-risk borrowers with low-interest rates. To date, the credit reference bureaus piling up data on loan defaulters which good borrowing records are ignored or not rewarded with lower interest rates.

Top Imperial Bank Depositors to received end with 35% of funds

EDIT April 5, 2019: CBK and KDIC announced that they have accepted a final and revised offer from KCB for Imperial Bank that is 19.7% over and above the 35% recovery announced in December 2018. The remaining depositors of Imperial will be paid 12.5% of the funds with the signing of the agreement, 12.5% on the first anniversary and then 25% over the subsequent three years during which their funds will earn interest.

KCB will take over five branches of Imperial as KDIC and CBK will explore further options for the remaining branches (Earlier it been announced that NIC bank would take over Imperial’ s branches). The deal excludes Kshs 36 billion (~$360 million) of loans that are being pursued through litigation in the courts.

Original December 16, 2018: The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) and the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation announced the conclusion of the Imperial Bank receivership that will probably not satisfy customers who still had vast sums deposited at the bank that was suddenly closed in 2015.

KDIC and CBK announced  they had accepted a modified biding offer from KCB, Kenya’s largest bank for Imperial Bank (in receivership) that comes with a payment of 12.7% of the balances that were owed to the remaining depositors.

Since making a first payment in three years ago through KCB and Diamond Trust, of up to Kshs one million that took care of most of teh small depositors, further payments have been availed  to larger depositors. But with the acceptance of the offer today, they will have only accessed 35% of the deposits held in the bank when it was placed under receivership, with the balance of the funds now uncertain.

A loan verification process will be done through teh first quarter of 2019 after which depositors may be able to receive more of their funds

The collapse of the bank started in the days after the the sudden death of its Managing Director, after which revelations of fraudulent accounts he managed, secret off-the-book loans, fishy undocumented cash transfers came to light.