Treasury bonds trade falls as CBK mops up shilling
The value of bonds traded in the secondary market at the Nairobi Securities Exchange fell by a fifth in November compared to October, as investors turned their sights to new government debt issues amid reduced liquidity in the money market.
The value of bonds traded fell by 22.5 per cent to Sh46 billion, coming down from the highs of up to Sh87 billion seen in September, when a liquid market had supported both secondary and primary bond trading.
Liquidity has been falling in the market in recent weeks due to mop up activity by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) —through the repo market — in a bid to keep a lid on shilling volatility as it weakens against the dollar.
Source: Business Daily
Comesa seen to grow marginally on Corona woes
The economy of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) region is projected to grow by 0.6 percent in 2020 down from 5.2 percent attained in 2019, according to a report.
The low projected growth in 2020 reflects largely the impact of Covid-19 containment measures that include quarantine, lockdowns, travel restrictions and border closures, which have badly affected trade between the members of the bloc.
The projections considered the development in economic growth, monetary policy and exchange rate, external current account including grants, overall fiscal balance, government debt, inflation rate, reserve accumulation, medium term prospects and recommendations and risks to outlook.
Source: Business Daily
Kenya: Kenya Airways has resumed direct flights to New York from Nairobi after a nine-month hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions. The carrier will initially fly on Tuesdays and Saturdays, down from a frequency of five flights before the COVID-19 outbreak that forced it to ground its fleet. The airline, which resumed the non-stop flight to the United States on Sunday, 29 November, says it will offer discounts to customers who book tickets before 10 December 2020. The national carrier suspended all its operations in March after the government closed the country’s airspace in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in Kenya and other parts of the world.
Source: Business Daily
Kenya: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has launched a three-year post-COVID-19 socioeconomic recovery strategy for county governments. The KES132-billion (USD1.19-billion) recovery plan prioritises agriculture, water and sanitisation, urban development and housing, transport, tourism, health, education, social protection, and gender and youth as anchor sectors that will help counties to recover from the effects of COVID-19. Wycliffe Oparanya, chairman of the Council of Governors said the financing of the USD1.19-billion strategy will largely be drawn from budgets of the County Government over the next three financial years, supplemented by resources from development partners. Kenyatta rallied governors to focus their collective efforts in implementing the strategy, saying Kenyans are counting on them to deliver the country from the socioeconomic disruption brought about by COVID-19. The president pointed out that the strategy is expected to drive real growth and economic rebound in the counties as the national government rolls out similar initiatives aimed at reviving the economy.
Kenya drops IPPs for KenGen to generate clean and cheap energy
Kenya dropped Independent Power Producers (IPPs) as private project partners in geothermal power production due to their perceived “sluggishness” in supporting government efforts to generate clean and cheaper energy. Energy cabinet secretary charles Keter told The East African that the government will, instead, work with the state-owned power producer, Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) in the second and third phases of the 465 MW geothermal power production at Menengai Geothermal fields, about 185 kilometres northwest of the capital Nairobi. The initial phase involves generation of 105 MW of geothermal power while the second and third phases are expected to add 60 MW and 300 MW of renewable energy to the national grid, respectively. The policy shift comes after the African Development Bank (AfDB) released an assessment report on the status of the Menengai Geothermal Development power project, showing that three IPPs have delayed the production of cheaper energy by more than two years. The three IPPs have failed to set up plants to generate a combined 105 MW of clean energy largely due to delayed fulfilment of the conditions, including securing letters of comfort, carrying out feasibility studies on the availability of steam and failing to reach financial closures with financiers in time.
Source: The EastAfrican
Kenya dumps costly syndicated loans to ease debt burden
Kenya will no longer take dollar-denominated syndicated loans arranged by commercial banks as part of the strategy to reduce the cost of debt and lengthen maturity to ease the payment burden. Syndicated loans are provided by a group of lenders, rather than a single financial institution, to spread the risk of default. They are easy to get and require fewer disclosures since they are negotiated out of public scrutiny. However, they are usually short-term and expensive. Finance cabinet secretary Ukur Yatani told the Committee on Finance and National Planning that the Treasury is implementing a new strategy to change the profile of Kenya’s debt from short expensive commercial loans into longer-dated sovereign bonds. He said commercial loans would only come in the form of Eurobonds to roll over principal payments when the debts mature. “The National Treasury has no immediate plans to contract syndicated loans with the Trade Development Bank or any other bank,” said Mr Yatani. “Our projections assume that existing Eurobonds will be rolled over at reasonable prices when global capital markets reopen to frontier market issuers.”
Source: Business Daily
EABL picks Kenyan insider as Group Managing Director
East African Breweries Limited has appointed Jane Karuku as the new Group Managing Director, putting her in charge of the operations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The appointment, which takes effect on January 1, 2021, is a promotion for Ms Karuku who has heading EABL’s subsidiary — Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) — since September 2013.
Ms Karuku replaces Andrew Cowan who moves to EABL’s parent company Diageo as the managing director for Africa regional markets. Mr Cowan was in charge of the beer maker for four and a half years.
Source: Business Daily
Investor seeks Cytonn liquidation over Sh14m debt
A businessman has moved to court seeking liquidation of investment firm Cytonn over failure to pay Sh14 million upon maturity of funds in one of its pools.
George Kirigi Thogo, in an insolvency petition filed at the High Court in Nairobi, says the property developer is indebted to him for a sum of Sh14,264,538 being the principal amount and interest. The money is still earning interest.
Mr Thogo says that between October 18, 2019 and February 7, 2020, he topped up his investment, also known as Further Investment Agreement, having previously invested in one of the company’s funds — the Cytonn High Yield Solutions (CHYS) Scheme.
Mr Thogo says he invested Sh12,994,883 in three tranches of Sh7 million with a maturity date of October 26, this year and a return rate of 19 per cent, Sh4 million set to mature on April 27, 2020 with a return rate of 16.5 percent and Sh1,994,883 to mature on August 10, 2020 with a return rate of 16.5 per cent.
However, on April 1 this year, Cytonn sent him a statement indicating that it had adjusted the maturity dates of all his investments, noting that it had “powers to unilaterally amend the terms of the agreement”.
Source: Business Daily
Capital markets regulator approves Acorn hostel Reits
The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has approved the issuance of a development and investment real estate investment trust (Reit) by student hostel developer Acorn, setting the stage for accelerated development in the city.
The Reit approval follows the issuance of a Reit Manager licence to Acorn last month, with the firm also having issued the first country’s first green bond in October 2019.
Acorn had disclosed in a roadshow presentation to potential investors in September that the D-Reit is expected to be worth Sh4 billion while the I-Reit’s size is estimated at Sh4.1 billion in the initial fundraising.
Source: Business Daily
Treasury nets less than half of Sh40bn bond target on tight liquidity
The Treasury raised less than half of the targeted Sh40 billion in this month’s Treasury bond sale, which was floated at a time when the shilling liquidity in the money markets has been tight due to mopping up activity by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in recent weeks.
CBK, which is the government’s fiscal agent, said that the bond raised a total of Sh18.26 billion, with investors having bid a total of Sh24.34 billion.
The bond was in form of two reopened 15-year papers that were initially sold in 2012 and 2019, effectively giving them 6.82 and 13.48 years to maturity respectively.
The bond will pay on average 11.46 per cent interest on the 2012 option, and 12.81 per cent on the 2019 option.
Source: Business Daily
Court halts Kenya duty on glass imports
Dar es Salaam. The East Africa Court of Justice (EACJ) has halted the implementation of a 25 percent excise duty on imported glass bottles into Kenya from the other East Africa Community (EAC) partner states after a Tanzanian firm challenged the decision.
In March 2020, Kenya amended its Excise Duty Act 2015 by imposing a 25 percent duty on imported glass bottles, save for glass bottles that are used to package pharmaceutical products.
Kioo Ltd – a Tanzanian firm engaged in the manufacture of glass containers for beverages and the food industry in East Africa – challenged the decision in the EACJ, arguing that the amendment would discriminate against glass products manufactured in the other EAC partner states against similar products manufactured in Kenya.
Source: The Citizen Reporter
Tanzania current account deficit narrows
The Tanzania current account narrowed to a deficit of US$ 893.7 million in the year ending October 2020, more than a half of the deficit of 1,615.2 million US dollars recorded in the corresponding period last year on account of improved increase in export of goods, combined with decrease in imports.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) monthly economic review for November, the overall balance of payments recorded a deficit of 568.3million US dollars compared with a surplus of 200.4 million US dollars in the corresponding period last year owing to relatively low official flows.
The exports of goods and services amounted to 8,856.5 million US dollars in the year ending October compared to 9,393.1 million US dollars in the year ending October 2019.
Source: Tanzania Standard Newspapers Ltd
PM Abiy, President Kenyatta Inaugurate Moyale One-Stop Border Post
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Uhuru Kenyatta inaugurated today the 500 kilometres Hawassa-Hagere Mariam-Moyale road project and One-stop Border Post in Marsabit County.
The launching of the border post and the 500 kilometers Hawassa-Hagere Mariam-Moyale Road, a key segment of the Mombasa-Nairobi-Addis Ababa Road Corridor and the Trans-African Highway, it was indicated.
During the inaugural ceremony, Prime Minister Abiy said the new infrastructure will bring Ethiopia and Kenya to come together to enhance socio-economic ties.
This is one of the key milestones of the two people to exchange experiences, investment, trade and tourism, Abiy said.
Nation Earns Close to 770 Mn USD from Export in Quarter
Ministry of Finance disclosed that it has earned 769.9 million US dollars from export during the first quarter of this Ethiopian fiscal.
The revenue has shown 46.9 million USD increase when compared to the 723 million USD in the same period last fiscal year.
Finance State Minister, Eyob Tekalign presented a three-month performance report of the ministry to the Revenue, Budget and Finance Affairs Standing Committee of House of Peoples Representatives today.
According to him, the export performance in particular and the country’s economy in general have registered growth during the past two consecutive fiscal years.
The economy has been registering double-digit growth over the past few years; and it achieved 6.1 percent growth in 2019/20 fiscal year, despite COVID-19.
Authority issues official request for proposals for telecom operators to take part in bidding
The Ethiopian Communications Authority has published an official Request for Proposal (RFP) inviting highly capable and interested telecommunications operators to take part in a sealed bidding process that aimed at issuing licences for two telecommunications companies. As a major development in the liberalisation of Ethiopia’s telecommunications market, the two licences are due to be issued in March or April 2021, it was learned. Briefing journalists, Finance state minister, Eyob Tekalgn said the government has decided to follow the “2 plus 1 market structure” whereby two new operators would be allowed to work with Ethio-Telecom. He added that the official RFP will remain open for three months and close on 5 March 2021. Stating that significant interest has been observed during the Expression of Interest (EOI) from giant companies to enter the Ethiopian market, Eyob Tekalgn added that “we have a strong response from 11 operators but this RFP is open to all others.”
Embedded insurance a game changer to the industry
Embedded insurance model is turning out to be one of the most viable options of selling insurance services to customers as the country strives to increase insurance coverage. People familiar with the industry base their argument on the fact that insurance sold through commercial banks, popularly known as bancassurance, are recording a sharp growth in gross underwritten premiums, barely three years since banks were granted operating licence in 2017. Data from the industry regulator, the Insurance Regulatory Authority of Uganda (IRA), shows that the premiums collected through bancassurance channels increased from UGX26-billion in 2018 to UGX53.6-billion last year. This accounted for 5.5% contribution to the total gross premiums of UGX973.58-billion written that year. For the three quarters of this year ending 30 September, the gross premium written through banks amounted to UGX52-billion amidst the effects of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has battered many economies around the world including Uganda. This represents a 6.36% of the quarter three 2020 industry gross written premiums of UGX818.7-billion.
Source: The Independent
Shilling trades stronger on diaspora inflows
The shilling started the week on a strong footing opening Monday’s session at the 3675/3685 levels and touching highs of 3670/3680 on the back of healthy flows from NGOs, commodity exporters, and the usual year-end diaspora flows.
According to Catherine Kijjagulwe, head of trading at Absa Bank, the shilling is likely to hold within the 3670 – 3740 range in the next few weeks as the festivities set in and eventual shilling weakening should happen closer to the month-end and into the election period.
Money Markets were fairly liquid with overnight at an average of 7.00%. Bank of Uganda has an invitation to tender for the government of Uganda Private Placement Auction of bonds with 3-year, 10-year, and 20-year tenors respectively that closes on December 9, 2020, at 10:00 am. The amount on offer is sh250 Billion for each of the respective tenors.
The Kenya shilling remained better bid, trading at the 111.35/111.55 levels during Monday’s session. The shilling is expected to trade within the 111.00 – 112.00 range for the week as demand remains healthy.
Source: New Vision
EU, PSFU set up sh22.3b youth skilling fund
The European Union (EU) has launched a €5m (sh22.3b) youth skilling fund to be administered by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU).
This is part of initiatives under the Sustainable Business for Uganda platform that aims to advance the Uganda-European Union roadmap to the improved investment climate.
Statistics from the Ministry of Gender indicate that around 400,000 youth are released from Uganda’s universities into the job market annually to compete for about 9,000 new jobs.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the training program at the residence of Elly Karuhanga, the PSFU chairman in Kampala, Ruth Biyinzika Musoke the head of the PSFU skills development facility said the youth training facility will initially run as a pilot project.
She noted that PSFU will welcome applicants from manufacturing, tourism, construction, and ICT sectors and place them in paid graduate internships for six months.
Source: New Vision
Uganda: Uganda is so far succeeding in safeguarding financial stability, although risks remain as the east African country battles the economic effects brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the central bank said in a recent report. Decisive monetary and macro-prudential policies have reduced short-term risks to financial stability, according to the Bank of Uganda (BoU) financial stability report for the third quarter. The report shows that since June, the central bank has maintained an accommodative monetary policy stance, with its rate maintained at 7.0%. This has continued to support loan repayments and private sector credit growth. Through the quarter, liquidity conditions in the banking system continued to improve, partly supported by the BoU’s policies and strong growth in deposits. The report warned that as banks move to digital or electronic transactions, including mobile money, to avoid the spread of COVID-19, there is a higher potential for cyber risk, fraud and operational risk. The BoU said it will continue to engage banks to ensure that they implement enhanced risk management and contingency plans in a bid to address the operational and cyber risk.
World Bank gives $10m loan to I&M
World Bank’s private sector lending arm has advanced $10 million loan to I&M Bank (Rwanda) Plc to support enterprises facing Covid-19-related liquidity challenges.
The loan is Rwanda’s first one through the International Finance Corporation’s global $8 billion Covid-19 facility launched in March 2020 to help businesses maintain operations during and after the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) said the loan was availed to help I&M Bank (Rwanda) increase lending to thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), many of which are facing Covid-19 cash-flow challenges.
Source: The EastAfrican
World: The financial technology (fintech) market has continued to help expand access to financial services during the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly in emerging markets – with strong growth in all types of digital financial services except lending, according to a joint study by the World Bank, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, and the World Economic Forum. The study, which gathered data from 1,385 fintech firms in 169 jurisdictions from mid-June to mid-August, showed most types of fintech firms reporting strong growth for the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. On average, firms in areas including digital asset exchanges, payments, savings, and wealth management reported growth in transaction numbers and volumes of 13% and 11%, respectively. Digital lending slumped 8% by volume of transactions, while also suffering a 9% jump in outstanding loan defaults. Regionally, the Middle East and North Africa saw strongest growth, up 40%, sub-Saharan Africa and North America, both up 21%. In general, emerging markets and developing countries experienced faster growth than developed markets.
Source: World Bank
Africa: Africa’s aviation industry represents a huge market that the continent’s airlines need to exploit more fully, with technology and artificial intelligence (AI) offering the way forward for expansion, regional development experts said. “Technology and smart technologies are offering this fantastic opportunity, so let’s make use of AI, let’s make use of the Internet of Things, let’s capacitate our people to revamp and to rethink our industry, to make sure that both our airports and our airlines cater for the very near future,” said Dr Amani Abou Zeid, African Union Commission for Infrastructure and Energy, during the opening session of a virtual workshop. The workshop, held on 3 December 2020, was organised by the African Development Bank under the theme, ‘African Aviation Recovery Conference: coordinating an efficient response to the COVID-19 crisis’s effects on the aviation sector in Africa’. Discussions touched on a number of challenges, including the urgent need of African airlines for government-supported loans, and other financial assistance in the short term, as well as the imperative to ensure that public health is a factor in efforts to build the sector back better and more competitively. Underpinning much of the discussion was the need to make public health and security a central element of the post-COVID-19 recovery, as a path to restoring confidence.
Africa: African countries that heavily depend on the tourism industry face a difficult recovery period after COVID-19, which continues to wreak havoc on global economies. Economists at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Renaissance Capital are projecting that countries with sizeable agriculture sectors and low exposure to tourism will recover quicker from the economic crisis fuelled by the pandemic. According to the IMF, the largest impact of the COVID-19 crisis on economic growth has been for tourism-dependent economies such as Mauritius, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Comoros and the Gambia, although commodity-exporting countries have also been hit hard. Despite a global recovery across many sectors, tourist inflows are not expected to return to 2019 levels until 2023.
Source: The EastAfrican
Africa: African governments should leverage capital, technology and manpower from industry to hasten realisation of sustainability agenda and pandemic recovery in the continent, a senior United Nations (UN) official said. Amina J. Mohammed, UN deputy secretary-general, said “the private sector in Africa should seize the opportunity to invest sustainably and create a peaceful, prosperous continent that is also resilient to the shocks triggered by the pandemic.” She spoke during a virtual summit to discuss the role of business in the attainment of key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) like poverty eradication, health and gender parity in Africa. More than 2,000 delegates including policymakers, donors and grassroots campaigners participated in the day-long virtual summit dubbed ‘Uniting Business for the Africa We Want: Decade of Action and Opportunities’. Sanda Ojiambo, executive director of the UN Global Compact, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a reawakening among African businesses on the need to invest in programs that transform local communities.
Africa: The economic and health costs to Africa stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented by any measure. So far, COVID-19 lockdowns have triggered the first continent-wide recession in 25 years, costing Africa an estimated USD115-billion in lost output and pushing up to 40 million additional people into extreme poverty, according to the World Bank. To recover from the economic damage, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that African governments face a financing gap between now and the end of 2023 of about USD345-billion – the amount that would be needed to cover emergency stimulus packages to jump-start economies, to strengthen national health care systems and to set up social safety nets to cushion vulnerable communities. Such funding could also finance the “liquidity and sustainability facility” which the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has proposed to lower borrowing costs by ensuring that short-term commercial debt obligations can be met and to provide extra liquidity for the private sector. The lack of fiscal space by African countries to tackle the pandemic and its aftermath can be attributed to four challenges, according to the IMF: first, the high debt-to-GDP levels; second, the huge gaps between spending and revenue; third, the high cost of borrowing; lastly, the depreciation of many African currencies against major international currencies.
Africa: The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a USD20-million concessional investment from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to establish the COVID-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform (CRP). The USD50-million blended finance initiative, will provide relief and recovery capital to energy access businesses, supporting them through and beyond the pandemic. The platform is anchored on a partnership with three specialised energy access fund managers selected through a competitive process: Triple Jump, Lion’s Head Global Partners, and Social Investment Managers and Advisors. The USD20-million concessional envelope will be blended with their own capital and instruments, leveraging USD30-40-million in complementary commercial funding and enabling more affordable debt products. Through these partners, the recovery platform will support energy access companies commercialising and deploying solar home systems, green mini-grids, clean cooking and other decentralised renewable energy solutions. “This initiative underlines the African Development Bank’s commitment to the accelerated growth of Africa’s decentralised energy industry, based on renewables, as a key driver for universal energy access goals,” said Dr Kevin Kariuki, the AfDB’s vice president for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.
African states lack funds to provide green energy
With less than a decade to meet global energy goals, sub-Saharan Africa is ways away to providing affordable, reliable, modern energy due to lack of financing, according to the latest United Nations report. The Sustainable Energy for All’s (SEforALL) ‘Energising Finance: Understanding the Landscape 2020 and Energising Finance: Missing the Mark 2020’ report found that most African countries have inadequate finance levels and those with funds are not directing them to the areas of greatest need. The shortage has reached acute levels in many of the 20 high impact countries across Africa and Asia, including Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania. As at 2018, the 14 high impact countries in Africa received USD8.5-billion, which is less than 20% of the total USD43.6-billion finance needed. The report indicates that an estimated annual investment of USD41-billion is needed to achieve universal residential electrification, but only one-third of this has been committed.
Source: The EastAfrican
Local currency financing for off-grid energy solutions in Africa limited, needs scaling up – AfDB report
Although advantageous, local currency financing for off-grid renewables projects and businesses in Africa is still limited, according to a new report released by the African Development Bank (AfDB). The report, ‘Exploring the Role of Guarantee Products in Supporting Local Currency Financing of Sustainable Off-Grid Energy Projects in Africa’, summarises findings of an in-depth study of documents on the off-grid energy and local currency financing sector, as well as interviews of energy stakeholders in the commercial and industrial and mini-grid sectors in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia. Companies that invest in off-grid renewable energy solutions in Africa grapple with limited access to credit as a result of risk profiling that is of concern to providers of local debt financing. Where credits are offered, the interest rates can be extremely high. There are potential advantages in using local currency debt financing for off-grid renewables projects and businesses to mitigate foreign exchange risks on the African continent. With the emergence of leasing and solar-as-a-service providers, there is the need for credit enhancement products to assess the availability of local currency finance for sustainable energy projects in Africa and the obstacles developers face in tapping into local financial and capital markets.
One month to start trading under AfCFTA, where does Africa stand?
With trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, expected to start on 1 January 2021, officials and experts say a lot of ground as regards outstanding negotiations and readying prerequisites to make things work has been covered. The negotiators are still busy trying to wrap up before the beginning of trade. Trading under the AfCFTA was due to commence on 1 July 2020, but due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, it was postponed. This gave countries some more time to patch up unfinished work. The negotiations proceeded using online platforms. “Despite COVID-19, the EAC has been able to conclude the first set of negotiations to allow the customs union to submit its schedule of tariff concessions. This was approved on Wednesday, 2 December 2020 at the EAC Sectoral Council on Trade Industry Finance and Investments.” Prudence Sebahizi, chief technical advisor on AfCFTA at the African Union Commission, told The New Times that “much progress has been made” to ensure that trading starts on 1 January 2021. Sebahizi said: “Member States have been able to conclude outstanding negotiations on rules of origin to the level above 80% and tariff offers have been submitted to allow trade in goods to start.”
Source: The New Times
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has issued the Merger Review Regulations (MRR) 2020 with ancillary instruments. The MRR 2020 establishes a composite framework for the application of rules with respect to notification and review of mergers under Part XII of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018. In addition to the MRR, the ancillary instruments that have also been issued include the Merger Review Guidelines (MRG) 2020 that provide a guidance framework for the procedural and substantive review of notified mergers; Notice of Merger Form (Form 1) with Guidance Notes that explain filing requirements for notifications; and Notice of Merger Form for the Simplified Procedure (Form 2). Consequently, the FCCPC’s previous Guidelines on Simplified Process for Foreign-to-Foreign Mergers with Nigerian Component is now replaced by the new Merger Review Framework.
FCCPC unveils new merger review regulations, ancillary instruments
Source: The Guardian