Archive for the 'Kenya' Category

“Jeff” Otieno Odundo new head for Nairobi Securities Exchange

Geoffrey “Jeff” Otieno Odundo will be the Chief Executive of the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), effective from 1 March 2015. The announcement was made yesterday (8 Jan) by the NSE Board of Directors.

Mr. Odundo is an accomplished investment banker with 22 years of experience in the financial sector experience including 16 years in the capital markets in various senior roles in asset management, corporate finance and stock broking, according to a press statement.

Geoffrey Otieno Odundo (credit Salaton Njau, Nation Media Group)

Geoffrey Otieno Odundo (credit Salaton Njau, Nation Media Group)

Leadership skills
Mr. Odundo has been Managing Director and CEO of Kingdom Securities Limited from June 2009. According to the statement: “During his tenure at Kingdom Securities Limited he has overseen the growth of the firm to become one of the leading trading participants of the NSE and has been instrumental in key listings on the NSE as well as other corporate finance transactions.”

According to a report in Business Daily NSE chairman Eddy Njoroge said the investment banker was appointed after a thorough vetting process: “The board together with KPMG considered numerous applications from various applicants of the highest standards”. He said Mr. Odundo’s leadership skills, experience and wealth of knowledge would be instrumental in driving the NSE’s strategic plan.

Capital FM quoted Mr Odundo as saying: “I am very confident that the future of the NSE as a key driver of Kenya’s economy is very bright as we deepen the current products and diversify into new product offering.”

He takes over from Peter Mwangi who left in November after serving two 3-year terms as CEO and became CEO of Old Mutual Kenya. Mr Njoroge also thanked Andrew Wachira, the Head of Compliance and Legal, who has been the Acting Chief Executive for the transition.

Leading stockbroker
Odundo has served as a Non-Executive Director of the NSE representing Trading Participants from March 2012. During this time, he has been the Chairman of the NSE Technology Committee and has also been a member of the NSE Finance and Manpower Committee and the NSE Listings and Admissions Committee.

Before moving to Kingdom Securities he was instrumental in setting up Co-op trust Investment Services and Co-op Consultancy Services Limited. Other roles include as a Director and Secretary of the Kenya Association of Stockbrokers and Investment Banks (KASIB), “a role in which he was instrumental in improving the service delivery and standards on the operations of Capital Markets intermediaries.” According to the statement.

Personal
Qualifications include a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Mathematics and Economics from Egerton University in Kenya (main campus Njoro near Nakuru) and a Masters in Strategic Management from the United States International University (Nairobi). He is married with 3 children and enjoys soccer, golf and Formula One. He is also a dedicated member of the St. Paul’s University Chapel Lectors Group and founder of Ame Foundation to support the less fortunate.

East African securities exchange integration – what’s on in 2015

Securities exchanges in East Africa are working together on the infrastructure for tighter cooperation and links between the capital markets of Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and potentially Burundi. The body for cooperation is the East African Securities Exchanges Association (EASEA). The key integration driver is the Technical Working Group (TWG), which has a member from each State. It was established by the East African Community (EAC) to review the best infrastructure and legal framework to facilitate seamless cross-border movement of capital.

Training and qualifications
Also important is the Securities Industry Training Institute (SITI) East Africa, which is improving skills and technical capacity to international standards and creating regional qualifications to enable skilled candidates to work across the region. For 2015 SITI East Africa aims to help more market players and regulators have SITI certification and examinations and is driving training to meet the growing demand for expertise. SITI was set up in 2009 to establish a common curriculum. See this post about the launch of SITI.

Infrastructure
A regional inter-depository transfer mechanism is in place to support movement of cross-listed securities and provide possibilities for investors seeking cross-border trading and investment opportunities. It is part of a capital market infrastructure project progressing under the EAC Financial Sector Development Regional Project (FSDRP I). Each country is leading publicity and workshops to raise awareness and boost cross-border trading.

Backbone – new directives
The TWG is developing Council Directives “which will be the backbone of the proposed integration of the regional capital markets”, according to the communiqué (“EASEA Press Release”) of the last EASEA meeting. The directives under public discussion are:
1. Council Directive of the EAC on Central Securities Depository
2. Council Directive of the EAC on Securities Exchanges
3. Council Directive of the EAC on Self-Regulatory Organizations
4. Council Directive of the EAC on Conduct of Business for Market Intermediaries
5. Council Directive of the EAC on Corporate Governance for Listing Companies.

The TWG has also drafted and completed directives on
1. Council Directive of the EAC on Investor Compensation Schemes
2. Council Directive of the EAC on Financial Education and Consumer Protection
3. Council Directive of the EAC on Disaster Recovery for Capital Market Infrastructure
4. Council Directive of the EAC on Regulated Activities
5. Council Directive of the EAC on Credit-Rating Agencies
6. Council Directive of the EAC on Regulatory Authorities
7. Council Directive of the EAC on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Financial Terrorism

The last meeting of EASEA was 26-27 November and Tanzania did not attend. The next is due in Uganda in the Q2 of 2015. EASEA is a member of the Capital Markets Development Committee (CMDC) of the East African Community (EAC) – a committee of the East African Community Secretariat, according to the Uganda Securities Exchange website. The CMDC objectives include

  • Establish cross-listing of stocks, a rating system of listed companies and an index of trading performance to facilitate the negotiation and sale of shares within and external to the Community
  • Ensure unimpeded flow of capital within the Community by facilitating the removal of controls on the transfer of capital among the Partner States
  • Prevent money-laundering activities through the capital markets
  • Ensure that the citizens of and persons resident in a Partner State are allowed to acquire stocks, shares and other securities or to invest in enterprises in the other Partner States

Encourage cross-border trade in financial instruments.

Nairobi securities exchange prepares for derivatives market launch

The Nairobi Securities Exchange is pushing ahead with plans to launch a derivatives market, including preparing product and contract specifications, and public education and stakeholder engagement meetings.
This follows the news on 19 Dec that the Capital Markets Authority granted NSE a provisional licence to set up and operate a derivatives exchange and approved the NSE’s Derivatives Exchange Rules and related documentation.
According to a press release put out by the NSE, acting Chief Executive Andrew Wachira said: “The NSE will now establish a globally competitive derivatives exchange that will enable spot and futures trading of multi-asset classes including equities, currency, interest rate products as well as varied forms of agricultural commodities contracts. The exchange has invested in the development of the derivatives market to ensure that it will meet global standards including mechanisms for trading, clearing and settlement of the instruments traded.”
NSE’s derivatives market is modelled on the derivatives market at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), which offers trading in futures and options on equities, bonds, indices, interest rates, currencies and commodities.
The latest move is in line with the strategic plan of the NSE. According to a report on Bloomberg earlier this year in February this envisages market capitalization soaring fourfold to KES 7.2 trillion ($79 billion) by 2023 from KES1.85 trillion.

Nairobi Securities Exchange (credit: Diana Ngila, Nation Media Group)

Nairobi Securities Exchange (credit: Diana Ngila, Nation Media Group)


NSE Chairman Eddy Njoroge noted in the press release: “Derivatives are among the most affordable and convenient means companies can cushion themselves against interest-rate fluctuations, exchange-rate volatility and commodity prices. Derivatives also boost liquidity in the underlying assets. The establishment of a derivatives market is a step towards growing the NSE brand and shareholder value and is also in line with Kenya’s Vision 2030 of deepening our Capital Markets and making Nairobi the financial services hub of East Africa.”
According to Bloomberg, a system for trading derivatives has already been installed. The law to allow creation of the futures market was passed in Dec 2013 and rules were submitted for approval by mid-February.
“Derivatives” get their name because their value is derived from another asset class such as a share, a physical commodity or an index. The JSE was ranked the 6th largest exchange by the number of single stock futures traded and 9th by the number of currency derivatives traded in 2012 in the World Federation of Exchanges Annual Derivatives Market Survey, according to the press release.

4 priorities from new head of African stock exchanges

Nairobi Securities Exchange (credit: Diana Ngila, Nation Media Group)

Nairobi Securities Exchange (credit: Diana Ngila, Nation Media Group)

The new President of the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) put forward 4 strategic objectives for the member bourses. Oscar Onyema, CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, was elected President after outstanding leadership by Sunil Benimadhu, Chief Executive of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius.
According to a news report in Nigeria’s This Day, Onyema said the vision is to support the effective mobilization of capital for economic development. The new executive committee to lead African securities exchanges will focus on
• Strengthen ASEA’s governance, financial and reporting framework
• Promote the sustainable development of African capital markets
• Facilitate an increase in market access at the regional level, and promote cross-listing among African exchanges
• Align the goals of African capital markets with those of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Onyema said: “I am honoured to be elected president of ASEA which is the largest platform for Africa’s stock, futures and options exchanges. I would like to thank the outgoing Executive Committee led by Mr. Benimadhu for their stewardship of the Association over the last two years, and I look forward to working with ASEA members, our global counterparts and regulators to contribute to the association’s rich legacy, as well as to promoting our markets in a broad range of areas”.
He was elected this week at the Executive Committee meeting of ASEA after its 18th annual general meeting held in Diani, Kenya.

Exchanges and regional integration
According to this press release from Nairobi Securities Exchange, William Ruto Deputy President of Kenya opened the ASEA flagship conference: “Well-established capital markets can help African countries lessen vulnerability of their economies to external shocks, by locally marshalling funds through instruments such as bonds and reducing currency and duration mismatches.
“The exchanges have continued to foster regional integration by allowing cross-border capital raising initiatives such as public offers, bond issues and cross-listing of stocks”. He encouraged Kenyans to keep saving and to do this using the capital markets.
Benimadhu, the out-going ASEA president, welcomed the new president and committee members: “We look forward to ASEA’s continuing progress as it seeks to enhance the global competitiveness of member exchanges”.

Open up, urges investor
Allan Thomson, managing director of Dreadnought Capital, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was reported in Kenya’s Daily Nation that opening up the markets to foreign investors would bring in much needed capital and training for the local markets: “I have respect for regulators in Africa and what they are trying to do. But it is worrying. African capital markets suffer from too much protectionism and stringent rules. The fact is that protected and inaccessible markets remain small.”
He added that membership at most capital markets was expensive, which kept away potential investors: “I once approached a securities exchange in Africa and was told to pay $1 million to become a member yet they were only five. I suggest a zero membership fee because investors bring in skills and capital,” he added.

Diani, Kenya (credit www.planetwindsurfholidays.com)

Diani, Kenya (credit www.planetwindsurfholidays.com)

Nairobi SE appoints Andrew Wachira as acting CEO

The Board of Directors of the Nairobi Securities Exchange appointed Andrew Wachira as the Acting CEO of the exchange, effective from 1 Oct 2014. Peter Mwangi left on 30 Sept, as reported on this blog. The process to recruit a permanent Chief Executive is ongoing.
According to the NSE announcement, lawyer Mr. Wachira has over 10 years’ experience at the Nairobi exchange. He has been the Head of Compliance and Legal Department, NSE since 2009. He has a Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Nairobi and is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya. He is a member of the Law Society of Kenya.
Board Chairman Mr. Eddy Njoroge said: “Andrew has been instrumental in the implementation of a number of key initiatives at the exchange. His experience, leadership skills and wealth of knowledge will ensure a smooth transition for the exchange. As we formalise the substantive recruitment of a Chief Executive, we are confident that he will execute this interim position commendably.”

History pic - Nairobi SE in 2009 (credit www.businessdailyafrica.com)

History pic – Nairobi SE in 2009 (credit www.businessdailyafrica.com)

Nairobi SE trades bonds on new automated trading system

nairobise40926_logoSTT40926_Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nairobi Securities Exchange (www.nse.co.ke) is trading corporate bonds and Government of Kenya treasury bonds on an automated trading system. It marks another step forward for South Africa’s financial software development company Securities Trading & Technology Pty (STT), which also supplies the STT bond trading system used by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), Africa’s most liquid bond market.
The new system allows on-line trading of debt securities and is integrated with the settlement system at the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) for treasury bonds. It offers true delivery-versus-payment (DVP) to mitigate risk. In August 2014 the NSE increased the number of settlements in treasury bonds to 3 per day, with settlements at 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00 each day so that a bond trader can buy a Kenyan treasury bond and sell it the same day.
The new STT automated trading system (ATS) also is efficient, scalable and flexible, and supports trading in bonds that have been issued in different currencies.
Peter Mwangi, CEO of the Nairobi bourse, said in a press release: “This is a significant step towards the exchange’s goal of ensuring that the secondary market becomes more transparent and the price-discovery mechanism is beyond reproach.
“The multicurrency trading functionality of the new system means that foreign-denominated bonds can now be listed and traded on the NSE. With this development, we look forward to the listing of the Government of Kenya Sovereign Bond at the exchange.” He was referring to Kenya’s debut $2bn Eurobond that was successfully floated on the Irish Stock Exchange in June after attracting bids for 4 times the initial target.
Nairobi’s stock market was reported to be working with the Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (CDSC) and the CBK for settlements of corporate bonds.
It also follows the South African practice and allows reporting of bond prices by yield (i.e. the current interest rate to investors). According to an earlier report in Standard Media, Mr Mwangi said: “the bond trading system.. will allow reporting of bond prices by yield… Decision-making will be faster and this should spur further liquidity in the bond market.”
The STT system supports market-making, a 2-way-quote trading model, ability to integrate with regulators’ surveillance systems and ability to report transactions that are concluded over-the-counter (OTC) for purposes of settlement.
In enhancing the bond trading system, the Nairobi Securities Exchange acknowledges the vital role that a vibrant secondary market for active African bond trading continues to play in raising long-term capital for the Government and corporate entities. County governments can also use the same system to raise capital through issuing and listing county bonds.
Ms. Michelle Janke, Managing Director of Securities Trading & Technology said: “I am delighted to have partnered with the NSE, all teams have put in an enormous effort to take the market live”. The market went live on 26 September.
The Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange went live using the STT system on 27 June, as reported on this blog, after switching from Millennium IT system.

JSE launches futures trading for 3 African currencies

South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (www.jse.co.za) has launched currency future instruments which will help investors and businesspeople looking to hedge against African currency movements. The 3 new currency futures are the first to track exchange rate between the rand (ZAR) and Nigeria’s Naira (NGN), Kenya Shilling (KES) and Zambia Kwacha (ZMW).
The move will allow investors, importers and exporters to protect themselves against the currency movement in the foreign country. The JSE has partnered with Barclays Africa and specialist brokers, Tradition Futures, to bring this new offering to market.
A press release from the JSE quotes Andrew Gillespie of Tradition Futures: “It is a groundbreaking development to have a transparent, independent, well-regulated platform to mitigate or assume FX (foreign exchange) risk in these African countries, against any other currency of their choice – that does not prejudice anyone, irrespective of size, domicile or nationality.

Representatives of JSE, Reserve Bank, Kenya and Zambia open trading in African currencies (credit: JSE)

Representatives of JSE, Reserve Bank, Kenya and Zambia open trading in African currencies (credit: JSE)


“The ability to transact anonymously, through specialist brokers such as Tradition Futures, and to have access to full and fair, timeous price discovery is an international benchmark requirement for a developed market. This allows for a level and fair playing field, where the best price is available to all, without bias or favour, which is a significant facet and feature of this market in African FX on the JSE.”

Guide to African currencies (see www.charterresource.org/african-currencies)

Guide to African currencies (see www.charterresource.org/african-currencies)


The JSE already offers futures against the ZAR in: USD (contracts of $1,000), Euro, Sterling, Australian dollar, Japan Yen, Canada dollar, New Zealand dollar, Chinese Renminbi, Swiss Franc, Botswana Pula and a couple of custom instruments. See the helpful brochure available here.

How they work
A currency futures contract is an obligation to buy or sell an underlying currency at a fixed exchange rate at a specified date in the future. For example, a futures contract can give an investor the right to buy USD at ZAR10 per USD1 at the end of December. One party to the agreement is obligated to buy (longs) the currency at a specified exchange rate and the other agrees to sell (shorts) it at the expiry date. A futures contract is therefore an agreement between two investors with different views on the way or extent a currency will move.
The underlying instrument of a currency future contract is the rate of exchange between one unit of foreign currency and the South African rand. The value of the futures contract moves up and down with this exchange rate – the level of the exchange rate determines the value of the futures contract. Currency futures contracts therefore allow participants to take a view on the movement of the exchange rate as well as to hedge against currency risk. Currency futures are used as a trading, speculating and hedging tool by all interested participants.
The new JSE futures contracts will provide the market participants with the ability to get exposure on the JSE to the exchange rate between the USD and the Zambian, Kenyan and Nigerian currencies through trading synthetic cross-currencies. For example, investors can get exposure to the exchange rate between the USD and the KES by trading both against the ZAR. To promote cross-currency trading the JSE will charge trading fees on only one of the foreign trade logs and not both.

Boosting African trade
The currency futures were launched on 3 October. The press release quotes Warren Geers, General Manager: Capital Markets at the JSE: “The JSE is very excited about this new groundbreaking initiative as we have been working on this strategy for 2 years. With Africa being a global investment destination it makes sense for the JSE as a major exchange player in Africa to be involved in providing appropriate products to mitigate currency risk and exposure when dealing in Africa.”
Trade statistics from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) show trade between South Africa and Nigeria totalled R34.4 billion, between South Africa and Zambia was nearly R18bn, and between South Africa and Kenya amounted to R4.6bn for for January-July 2014.

For more information, look at the currency futures details on the JSE website.

Nairobi Securities Exchange CEO Peter Mwangi moves to Old Mutual Kenya

The well-respected CEO of the Nairobi Securities Exchange (www.nse.co.ke), Peter Mwangi, is to take up a new job as Group CEO at financial services company Old Mutual Kenya with effect from 1 October. Mr Mwangi has served at the NSE since 24 November 2008 and his contract was renewed in 2011 but according to regulations a CEO of an exchange can only serve 2 terms.

Mr Mwangi and his top team have made huge progress in boosting the activity and standing of the NSE. Kenya’s Standard reports that major strategic projects implemented while he was CEO include:

  • Trading treasury bonds on the automated trading system,
  • Reducing the trading and settlement cycle to four days
  • Demutualizing the exchange and selling its shares to the public.

Local press reports that in a statement sent to newsrooms Mr Mwangi says he expects the bourse to build on the foundations it set to be one of the most efficient and well capitalized exchanges on the continent.

Old Mutual continues in expansionary form in Africa, and an analyst reports: “Old Mutual has been accelerating its growth agenda within the African continent, expanding its footprint both organically and inorganically and Mr. Mwangi’ s appointment comes at an exciting time for the Group as whole as he will be in charge of spearheading Old Mutual agenda in this region. In 2013, the Group announced that it plans to invest $500M in East and West Africa, and we have already seen this as the Group has established operations in Nigeria and Ghana. In Kenya, the Group acquired Faulu Kenya which is in the process of been integrated in Old Mutual’s operating model.”

Tavaziva Madzinga, Old Mutual Africa Chief Operations Officer, was quoted on CapitalFM: “With the Group’s focus on growing in East Africa, and Kenya in particular, Mwangi will guide the delivery of Old Mutual’s commitment to provide affordable insurance and banking solutions to millions of Kenyans.”

Peter Muthoka, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Old Mutual was reported as saying: “The importance of our customer cannot be emphasised enough. We are dedicated to our vision of becoming our customers’ most trusted financial partner and we look forward to working closely with Mr Mwangi in serving Kenyans to empower them financially to achieve their goals.”

According to his profile on Businessweek: Before joining the NSE Mr Mwangi had been CEO and Managing Director of Centum Investment Company, (formerly, ICDC Investment Company until it changed its name in 2008) from December 2004 to October 15, 2008. He had joined been company secretary from 2000 to 2004 and has also been Investment Manager. His working career began as a Technical Officer in the Kenya Air Force, where he was involved in the maintenance of avionic communication systems and the development of the Air Force’s information and communication technology (ICT) strategy.

His degree is BSc in Electronic Engineering from University of Nairobi. He is also a Member of Certified Public Accountant of Kenya (ICPAK) and the Institute of Certified Public Secretaries of Kenya (ICPSK) and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

He serves as a Director of UAP Insurance Sudan Ltd., Kisii Bottlers Limited, Mount Kenya Bottlers Limited, Rift Valley Bottlers Limited, Eveready Batteries Limited, KWAL Holdings Limited and Central Depository & Settlement Corporation Limited. He serves as a Director of Nairobi Stock Exchange Ltd., and Wildlife Works Inc. He is also a member of the Institute of Directors (IOD).

Peter Mwangi

Peter Mwangi

Nairobi Securities Exchange IPO closes 12 Aug

Significant dates
24 July – IPO opens
12 Aug – IPO closes
4 Sept – Share allotment announcement
9 Sept – Self-listing ceremony
nairobisecuritiesexchange_NSE21

The Initial Public Offering (IPO) of the Nairobi Securities Exchange Limited (www.nse.co.ke) is open until 12 August. The NSE is seeking to raise KES 627 million ($7.14m) by selling up to 66,000,000 new shares (some 31% of the equity) at a price of KES 9.50 per share. The offer is open to domestic and international investors.
The IPO will culminate on 9 September with the self listing of the NSE on the Main Investment Market Segment (MIMS), making it Africa’s second security exchange after the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (www.jse.co.za) to demutualize and list itself.
Mr. Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, said during the IPO launch ceremony on 23 July (see press releases here): “One of the key objectives of the Capital Markets Master Plan is to build on recent market reforms to address regulatory and institutional constraints in order to strengthen market infrastructure, intermediation, oversight and governance standards. The demutualization and self-listing of the NSE form part of the government’s policies to enhance governance standards and facilitate access to our markets by a wider community of investors. “
Mr. Edward Njoroge, NSE Chairman, said: “The success of our country and the region will be mirrored both in our market and our company, the NSE. We urge all Kenyans, and other investors both far and wide, to embrace this offer with the confidence that Kenya’s growth and future success will, in many ways, be accelerated through the development of our capital markets.”
The minimum number of shares available for purchase is 500 at a cost of KES 4,750.00 (approximately $54). Thereafter purchases are in multiples of 100 shares.
The NSE is celebrating its 60th anniversary and the demutualization and share offer have taken 5 years until the Capital Markets Authority approved all in June.

Is the NSE IPO a bargain? Analysis by Ryan Hoover

Ryan Hoover of the excellent Investing in Africa blog (www.investinginafrica.net) has published his analysis of the NSE IPO here, it is well worth reading. He looks at the NSE income and expenses in the prospectus, and shows that transaction levies (fixed at 0.24% of total trade value, i.e. 0.12% on each side) are the main source of income, earning the NSE KES 405m in 2013. He breaks down the baseline earnings to come with an after-tax figure of KES 0.80 per share, giving the offer a price/ earnings (P/E) ratio of 11.8x.
Since Kenyan bonds currently yield around 11% he looks at future earnings, noting that trading volumes are up 37% in the first half of 2014. Using a forecast growth in earnings per share of 20% he believes the shares could be worth KES 19.90 in 2019 at a P/E ratio of 10x (the JSE is on P/E of 16x) and adding in dividends at KES 0.25 per year (the current level adjusted for the IPO) he sees the potential annual return at 17.4%.
Check out his excellent blog, also for the discussion following the article, which points out that the offer is likely to be over-subscribed.

Kenya pledges lower domestic rates after $8.8bn bids for its $2bn Eurobonds

Nairobi National Park (credit: Kenya Tourism Board, www.magicalkenya.com)

Nairobi National Park (credit: Kenya Tourism Board, www.magicalkenya.com)

Global investors offered a record $8.8 billion in bids for Kenya’s 5- and 10-year Eurobonds this month. The country issued $0.5bn in the 5-year bond at 5.875% and $1.5bn in the 10-year at 6.875%. The resounding success is likely to encourage more African governments to speed up plans to come to international markets for credit while cheap global rates continue and appetite is high for frontier markets debt.

This is Africa’s biggest Eurobond issue to date. According to the BBC, investors from the US took about 67% of the issue and UK investors about 25%. Bond rates on Kenya’s 10-year debt in issue came down since the new issue was first announced on 16 June to 6.41% which is 381 basis points over the similarly dated US treasuries, according to Bloomberg.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was reported on Reuters telling a news conference: “By accessing these external funds, we will reduce government borrowing from the domestic markets, thereby helping drive down interest rates which should boost investment, spur economic growth, provide more employment opportunities to our people.” He described the sale as “a vote of confidence”. At a state of the economy address on 25 June he said the funds would be used prudently to fund infrastructure including transport and energy and to fund agriculture.

Cabinet secretary for the National Treasury (equivalent to Finance Minister) Henry Rotich said: “Investors were impressed with the management of our economy and perceived it to be very strong.” He said it would diversify government’s financing for development programmes. He also said the Government would come back to the markets in the next fiscal year (starting 1 July) but may consider a sukuk bond (see here for UK’s £200 million sukuk bond success) or a diaspora bond. The sovereign is also set to be a benchmark for Kenyan firms issuing corporate bonds on international markets, similar to the success of Nigeria’s sovereign issue.

Rotich said that from 8 July the Central Bank of Kenya would start setting a new reference rate for banks, the Kenya Banks Reference Rate. Banks would have to use this, although they would still be able to add risk premiums according to the creditworthiness of borrowers. This is also expected to lower interest costs and the rate would be set according to the average of the CBK’s main lending rate and the average yield on benchmark 91-day Treasury Bills every 6 months.

The Government announced its 2014/15 budget this month and forecast a budget deficit of 7.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) and local borrowing of KES190.8bn ($2.18bn) or 4.1% of GDP, according to Reuters. Macro-economist Rotich was a colleague when Kenyatta was Finance Minister and the two are working together to speed up Kenya’s economic growth to over 10%. According to a story in the Financial Times blog Beyond Brics, Rotich says Kenya will grow at 5.8% this year and 6.4% next year, however the World Bank has just cut its forecast from an earlier 5.3% forecast for this year and forecasts 4.7% for both years.

The blog cites the World Bank report: “The new projections reflect the effects of the drought, the deteriorating security situation, the low level of budget execution, and tighter global credit as the US Federal Reserve winds down its expansive monetary policy.”

The World Bank says drought has cost Kenya $12bn over the last 10 years and that foreign direct investment (FDI) is only 1% of GDP. The blog reports: “The World Bank is also increasingly preoccupied by the impact of inequality on growth and stability.” The World Bank is optimistic and is backing Kenya with a $4bn programme, double the Eurobond.

Kenya plans $43bn of infrastructure by 2017, but there are questions as to whether they get value for money in a $3.7bn deal with Chinese for new rail and rolling stock. Kenya is likely to become a middle-income country by September after re-basing because of statistical revisions.