15th October 2021: Trade and Financial Services Round Up

October 15, 2021 - 5 minutes read

KENYA

Economy on path to recovery as banks record 53pc profit increase (Source: Business Daily)

Pre-tax profits for banks in the seven months from January to July jumped 53.2 percent and surpassed last year’s full-year earnings, pointing to continued recovery from the Covid-19 downturn with customers stepping up loan repayments.

Latest Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows pre-tax earnings in the seven months hit KSh. 113.4 billion to race ahead of the KSh112.8 billion posted in the full year ended December 2020.

The jump came at a time when banks increased lending and cut the size of non-performing loans (NPLs) due to a rise in repayments and property auctions.

The latest profits translate to a 53.2 percent jump from the Sh74 billion profit that lenders returned in seven months last year, when Kenya imposed Covid-19 restrictions.

Digital lenders risk ban for revealing borrowers (Source: Business Daily)

Rogue digital lenders who share personal data of loan defaulters will be stripped of their operating licences if Parliament passes proposed changes to the law to curb abuse of confidential records.

The National Assembly committee on Finance and National Planning has added a clause to the Central Bank Amendment Bill 2021, granting the banking regulator powers to revoke the permits of digital lenders who breach the confidentiality of personal information to pursue defaulting borrowers.

The proposed law aims to stop a trend where some lenders resort to “debt shaming” tactics to recover loans.

There are reports of debt collection agents pursuing borrowers either by informing their friends and family using contact information scraped from their phones or by threatening to tell their employers.

Relief at the pump as EPRA cuts fuel prices (Source: Business Daily)

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) Thursday cut prices by Sh5 per litre, bringing down the cost of super petrol and diesel to Sh129.72 and Sh110.60 respectively in the monthly review that will lapse on November 14.

The cuts came after State House intervened and directed EPRA to reduce fuel prices despite lack of funds in the kitty that had been used to keep prices low since March.

“The maximum allowed petroleum prices in Nairobi for super petrol and diesel decrease by Sh5 per litre while that of kerosene decreases by Sh7.28 per litre,” EPRA said Thursday while releasing the new prices.

High Court declares Huduma Namba illegal (Source: Business Daily)

The High Court has declared the roll out of Huduma Namba, which the government spent more than KSh10 billion illegal for being in conflict with the Data Protection Act.

Justice Jairus Ngaah ruled that the government should have conducted an impact assessment before rolling out the Huduma Cards. The Judge further ordered the government to conduct the assessment before the rollout, to create safeguards to protect Kenyans’ data, as the cards have already been rolled out

Katiba Institute and law scholar Yash Pal Ghai sued the government arguing that it was wrong for the government to roll out the Huduma Cards, before conducting a data protection impact assessment.

Why Uhuru rejected Biden’s global tax plan (Source: Business Daily)

Kenya withheld backing for US President Joe Biden administration’s push for a global minimum rate of tax on multinational companies because the deal will stop Nairobi from collecting taxes from tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which hosted the talks on the overhaul of taxation rules, revealed five days ago that Kenya was missing from the list of 136 countries that have backed the agreement.

Wednesday, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) confirmed that Kenya was uncomfortable with clauses in the agreement that will force it to drop the digital services tax of 1.5 percent of sales.

“Members who join the statement are obliged to withdraw their unilateral measures such as digital services tax and similar measures imposed on non-resident companies which do not have physical presence in the market jurisdiction,” said Terra Saidimu, the KRA Commissioner in charge of Intelligence and Strategic Operations.

NHIF seeks law change to cover against future pandemics (Source: Business Daily)

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) is banking on Parliament to amend the law to establish provisions on how pandemics and epidemics such as Covid-19 will be covered in future.

NHIF chief executive Peter Kamunyo told Senators that there is no law currently that defines how pandemics and epidemics are to be covered by insurers.

Dr Kamunyo told the Senate Health committee that the NHIF (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which aims to create the appropriate health insurance legal framework for attainment of universal health care should be amended to include the provisions.

Cybercrimes surge by 37pc as usage of Internet increases (Source: Business Daily)

Cybercrimes and related threats have risen this year as Kenya’s Internet and data subscriptions grew to 46.7 million.

The Communications Authority of Kenya data shows 38.8 million cyber-attacks were recorded from April to June, an increase of 37.3 percent between January-March when 28.2 million cyber threats were detected.

According to the report, the increase is due to the significant rise in targeted attacks on Internet of Things devices such as smartphones, home appliances and security systems.

UGANDA

Google’s $1bn Africa investment sparks tax debate (Source: The independent)

Google announced $1bn of investments in Africa’s digital transformation in its first ever Google for Africa event on October 6.

Over the next five years, Google’s investments will focus on improving connectivity, backing African tech startups and entrepreneurs, and renewing Google’s non-profit commitments on the continent, Nitin Gajria, Google’s managing director in Sub-Saharan Africa, told the BBC on October 6.

One of the initiatives is the Google subsea cable project stretching to South Africa, Namibia and Nigeria that the company says will improve Internet access and affordability by next year. The tech giant will also invest $50m in its Africa Investment Fund aimed at growth stage startups.

MTN Uganda set to reveal new growth plans, opportunities (Source: The independent)

Uganda’s biggest telecom, MTN Uganda, is set to reveal its new growth plans and opportunities on Oct. 11 when it publishes its indicative price range ahead of the expected US$1.2billion initial public offering (IPO).

MTN Uganda plans to float 20% of its shares on the Nairobi Stock Exchange for investors in the East African Community to meet the government’s set condition for the recently renewed 12-year national operating license. MTN Group owns 96% of MTN Uganda and the rest of the shares are held by the local businessmen.

The company said on October 5 that it has already secured the required approval by the Capital Markets Authority and Uganda Securities Exchange. “The intention to float announcement is a major step towards delivering on our plan to list on the USE,” said Charles Mbire, chairman of the Board of Directors, MTN Uganda.

TANZANIA

Dar commits to fully explore AfCFTA trade opportunities (Source: Daily News)

Tanzania is committed to use all trade opportunities arising from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement including the acquisition of new markets for agricultural products.

Access to markets will stimulate production, strengthen the value chain of agricultural products involving smallholder farmers of sunflower, cotton, cloves, spices, fruits and vegetables.

This was stated recently by the Minister for Industry and Trade, Prof Kitila Mkumbo, when he attended the seventh meeting of the African Council of African Trade Ministers of the AfCFTA held in a traditional and hybrid network.

Analysts predict oversubscription on 25-year bond (Source: Daily News)

Debt analysts are expecting an oversubscription on a 25-year government bond, with a slight yield drop in Wednesday, October 13 auction.

The analysts’ projection is based on the fact that the 25-year paper has the highest yields among all seven bonds hence drawing a huge appetite.

Also, the previous auctions—the first and the second—were heavily oversubscribed while pinning down yield rates.

Orbit Securities Head of Research and Analytics Imani Muhingo told ‘Daily News’ that the bond is one of the most liquid papers in the market thus investors’ appetite for the paper is still high.

RWANDA

Cabinet approved Covid-19 resolutions

On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, His Excellency Paul KAGAME, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, chaired a Cabinet meeting at Urugwiro village. The Cabinet reviewed existing health measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 and approved the following resolutions which will take  effect  nationwide,  starting October  14 through November 14, 2021:

  • Movements are prohibited between midnight (12 AM) – 4 AM. All businesses must close by 11 PM.
  • Fully vaccinated travelers will no longer be required to quarantine at hotels upon arrival. Covid-19 PCR tests will be required for all arriving passengers.
  • Arriving and departing passengers at Kigali International airport must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken 72 hours prior to departure and should comply with health guidelines.
  • Public offices will continue with essential staff at no more than 75%capacity while other employees continue working from home on a rotational basis.
  • Private businesses will continue at full capacity and must comply with Covid-19 preventive measures.
  • Physical conferences and meetings will continue at 50% occupancy. All participants must present a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior to the meeting.
  • Public transport (buses) should not exceed 75% of seating capacity. Bus operators must ensure windows are open for proper ventilation and passengers maintain social distancing.
  • Motos and bicycles are permitted to carry passengers and must comply with Covid-19 preventive measures.
  • Restaurants shall continue to operate with a 50% occupancy limit. Restaurants with outdoor seating services may operate at 75% of venue capacity.
  • Bars shall continue to resume gradually. Recreation/entertainment venues shall resume gradually at 50% maximum capacity. Customers must fully be vaccinated and should possess negative Covid-19 test results taken within 72 hours. RDB will provide detailed guidelines.
  • All services held at places of worship should not exceed 50% maximum occupancy. MINALOC will provide detailed guidelines.
  • Tourism activity will continue in strict adherence with Covid-19 health guidelines. This includes hotels, tour operators and transport services facilitating guests.
  • Individual and non-contact outdoor sports activities are permitted.
  • Gyms and fitness centers will continue to re-open progressively.
  • Swimming pools, massage parlors, saunas, shall re-open gradually. Customers must be fully vaccinated (except persons under 18 years of age) and should possess negative Covid-19 test results taken within 72 hours. RDB will provide detailed guidelines.
  • Attendance at a wake/vigil (Ikiriyo) should not exceed 30 persons at any one time. Funeral gatherings at grave sites should not exceed 50 persons.
  • Civil, religious and traditional marriage ceremonies are permitted. All events conducted in homes should not exceed 50 persons and  local authorities must be informed. Guests must test negative for Covid-19, 72 hours prior to the event and  must  comply with  Covid-19  preventive  measures. The Ministry of Local Government will provide detailed guidelines.
  • Events held in designated/ approved  venues including outdoor tents should not exceed 50% of venue capacity. All guests must possess negative Covid-19  test results taken within 72 hours before an  event, and  should comply with Covid-19 preventive measures (social distancing, hand washing, wearing face masks.)Other events and gatherings (concerts, festivals, exhibitions, etc.) shall continue for vaccinated and tested participants in accordance with RDB guidelines.
  • Gaming activities  shall  resume  gradually  in  accordance  with  detailed guidelines provided by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

ETHIOPIA

Standard Bank Expresses Interest in Investing in Ethiopia (Source: 2merkato)

A team from Standard Bank Group held a discussion with Lelise Neme, Commissioner of Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), during which they expressed their “willingness and interest” in being involved in the banking sector in Ethiopia, EIC stated.

During their discussion, the team presented and shared their experience of working in the banking sector in several countries. Ms. Lelise and the Standard Bank team also discussed other potential sectors of investment and opportunities in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia Gives Priority to African Agenda, Cooperation Among Countries (Source: ENA)

The Government of Ethiopia will give priority to the successful realization of the African agenda, a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

In an exclusive interview he held with ENA in connection with the 39th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union, Protocol Affairs Director-General Feysel Aliy stated that the necessary preparations for the Councils of African Foreign Ministers meeting have been finalized.

The opportunity given to Ethiopia to host this important meeting signifies the country’s priority for the African agenda, he said, adding that Ethiopia will continue its effort for the success of the continent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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