African capital markets and innovation key to achieving African agenda

“The time is now to stop aspiring to building and focus on ensuring the African financial markets are actually built.”

    Paul Muthaura CMA Kenya (photo The East African)

  • African capital markets are key to African development visions but governments must prioritize market finance structures over donor and government-to-government finance.
  • How to mobilize over $1trn of assets in pension, insurance and collective investment vehicles across sub-Saharan Africa
  • Innovation at the core of Kenya’s 10-year capital markets masterplan, including M-Akiba bonds, regulatory sandbox, mobile platforms for securities trading
  • Governments to provide conducive environments
  • Capital markets connectivity to allow free flow of capital across borders to fund critical infrastructure for Continental Free Trade Area

Here are extracts from the speech by Paul Muthaura, CEO of the Capital Markets Authority of Kenya, this morning at the 7th annual “Building Africa Financial Markets Seminar” in Nairobi.

Also present was HE William Samoei Ruto (Deputy President of Kenya), Oscar Onyema (President of African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange), Sam Kimani (Chairman of the Nairobi Securities Exchange) and Geoffrey Odundo (CEO of NSE).

“This conference also comes closely on the heels of the admission of the NSE to the World Federation of Exchanges which acknowledges the trajectory of our markets’ growth in recent years and reinvigorates us for the journey ahead as we seek to position the NSE as a globally competitive platform for wealth creation, a global cross roads for investment and risk management and a critical catalyst for economic transformation.

“The central role of deepening capital markets to finance infrastructure, business enterprise and overall economic development is increasingly a key pillar of policy makers’ agendas in Africa. For instance, the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 prioritizes the development of capital markets on the continent to strengthen domestic resource mobilization and to double market-based financings’ contribution to development financing.

“Similar prioritization is found in several national visions including Nigeria’s FSS2020, Zambia’s Vision 2030, Rwanda’s Vision 2020, Uganda’s Vision 2040 and of course the Kenya Vision 2030. Over US$1 trillion in assets are currently held by pension, insurance and collective investment vehicles across sub-Saharan Africa so the challenge to us in this room remains how are we going to leverage these pools to crowd-in the significantly larger pools of global capital necessary to fund the meteoric rise of this continent.

Innovation

“Institutions or sectors that do not prioritize innovation are ultimately relegated to stunted growth, poor competitiveness and ultimately, redundancy. The very fact that we are all gathered here today affirms that as a continent we are committed to actively deliberating on proactively adapting to emerging innovations. To institutionalize this commitment to constructive innovation at a national level, the Authority was honoured to convene our sector and international partners to put in place the Capital Markets Masterplan (CMMP) – a 10-year strategic policy document that targets to stimulate innovation to broaden product and service offerings, deepen market participation and liquidity, and drive transformative economic development for Kenya and the wider region.

“Any conversation on innovation appears inseparable from a deliberation on the global efforts to continuously update business models in line with technological changes cutting across product/services design, infrastructure, access and supervision. To this last point, regulators are increasingly challenged to rethink their supervisory models to align regulatory requirements with market needs is a fast-changing environment.

“For some time now, Kenya has been sitting in a unique position as a bustling hub for impactful innovation, ranging from MPESA – a fast and convenient mobile money platform to M-Shwari – a mobile-based savings product. Not to be left behind, Kenya’s capital markets have through various initiatives have been angling to put the country on the global innovation map. These initiatives include;

  • The recent launch of M-Akiba – a mobile-phone-based retail government bond primary and secondary market investment platform,
  • The on-going efforts to establish a Regulatory Sandbox for Kenya’s capital markets to provide an ideal platform for testing of ideas/innovations/products/services etc. before they are rolled-out to the wider market; and
  • The development of a wide spectrum of mobile based platforms for securities trading.

“As a regulator cognisant of our dual mandate of regulation as well as development, the Authority has also operationalized principle-based approval powers to allow for the accelerated introduction of new products including exchange-traded Funds, GDR/Ns (global depository receipts) and asset-backed securities.

Right foundations

“It is critical, particularly given the nascent state of markets on most of the continent, that we do not lose sight of the critical importance to build our markets on the right foundations. In a world where we are eternally competing for highly mobile capital, we must prioritize the development and more critically the transparent enforcement of world class legal and regulatory frameworks; in pursuing innovation, we must not forsake robust market infrastructure that provides pre and post trade transparency and engenders confidence in settlement finality; we must ensure that the products and services being developed are actually relevant and responsive to the economic needs of our environment, resonate with the political priorities of our governments and strengthen the savings and investment habits of our citizenry.

“We must challenge our governments to provide conducive macro-economic, political and fiscal environments for markets to grow. Difficult as it may be, we must be willing to prioritize market-based funding models over traditional government-to-government and donor funding models. What appears concessionary today will likely be unsustainable tomorrow where the necessary market dynamics have not been built to support private sector growth and SME business as the engines for long-term sustainable economic growth and as a critical source of tax revenue to ensure debt service and sustainability.

“We must challenge our market intermediaries to raise their operational and technical standards to be able to support responsive product design and ethical practices, all parties need to come together to drive both issuer and investor education on the full spectrum of financing options available to them to ensure the supply side is as dynamic as the demand side’s need.

“We must challenge our domestic institutional investors to make the difficult decisions to diversify into appropriate market-based risk products that allow for effective asset-liability matching in place of traditional government debt and, needless to say, proactively work with government to consistently lower government borrowing rates in order to tackle the crowding-out effect all too common with the easy availability of double-digit risk-free assets.

“If we are to deliver robust African capital markets we must deepen the capacity of the complementary professionals, support independent auditor oversight, robust corporate governance and globally benchmarked certification standards.

“Introduction of REITS (real estate investment trusts), operationalizing collateral management and liquidity management tools like REPOs and securities lending and borrowing, Impending green finance, roll-out of Islamic finance, delivery of commodities exchange and warehouse infrastructure, derivatives markets to support hedging, online forex trading (FX CFDs), and leveraging fintech to support access and market growth, are all critical components in deepening and diversifying the capital markets that have received and continue to receive strong support from the government in partnership with market stakeholders.

Pan-African challenge

“With the introduction of the Continental Free Trade Area, it is for the capital markets to address pan-continental connectivity to allow for the free flow of capital across borders to fund the critical infrastructure necessary to support the free movement of goods and services under the free trade area. The time is now to stop aspiring to building and focus ensuring the African financial markets are actually built.

“As the capital markets regulator, we are keen on actively playing our role in positioning Kenya as an investment hub for East and middle Africa. By 2023, we envision Kenya as the choice market for domestic, regional and international issuers and investors looking for a safe and secure investment destination.”

For the full speech, see the CMA Kenya website.

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