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Archive for July, 2014

Developments in the Kenya Banking Sector

22 Jul

Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) has launched a new tool that borrowers can use in making decisions on borrowing which have seen commercial banks in Kenya adopting the  Kenya Banks’ Reference Rate (KBRR) and the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will enhance pricing transparency while stimulating competition within the banking industry. APR is made up of an interest rate component that is derived from KBRR plus individual banks’ administrative costs and product related fees, a risk premium and the banks’ profit margin; as well as related third party costs. The formulas for these rates formula were developed as an outcome of discussions between the stakeholders, Commercial Bank of Kenya and led by the National Treasury as a measure to bring down the cost of borrowing in the country. These rates will be overseen by the Cost of Credit Committee which will ensure that banks disclose all the costs that go into the pricing of a loan. The overall vision is to allow for an efficient and clear credit system and also enhance access to credit. Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Limited has become the first bank to lower its lending rates to 14.9 per cent, based on the new benchmarks and the rest of the banking fraternity is expected to shortly follow suit. This follows a successful two-month pilot period during which  member banks tested the model within their institutions. The government plans to release a list of expensive lenders every week in a bid to encourage conformity with the new rates. There are also plans to expand credit information sharing beyond member banks to all regulated banks and other entities, including non-bank credit providers, utilities and mobile network operators.

In order to increase public awareness the Cost of Credit Website has been launched, www.costofcredit.co.ke, which will allow members of the general public quick access to the credit calculator and this is also available in app either from google play or the website.

 
 

Heart Break for the Simba XV

18 Jul

In a case of so near yet so far has struck the Kenya national rugby team the world cup qualifiers held in Madagascar over the past week. In a tournament that started off greatly for Kenya who proved they are one of continents heavyweights with a win over Namibia and then followed up with a win over the hosts. Zimbabwe started the tournament with a win over Madagascar but followed up with a narrow 20 24 loss to Namibia. Kenya was in prime position to qualify for the world cup for the first time in their history and could have achieved it with a draw or bonus point loss in their final match against Zimbabwe. Heading into the match Kenya had 10 points, Zimbabwe had 6 and Namibia was on 5. The game started off well for the Kenya team with the scores tied at 3 all for most of the first half then Zimbabwe sneaked ahead with a penalty but Humphrey Kanyange powered through the Zimbabwe defence for a converted for Kenya to lead 10 – 6. The Zimbabwe sables the struck before half time to go into the break 13 10 leading. The second half belonged to Zimbabwe who scored points in the form of 2 tries 2 conversions and a penalty to win the game 28 10. They went above Kenya by having scored more points than them and stood a chance to qualify directly unless Namibia won by more than 53 points in the last match against Madagascar. What happened next quite inexplicable and the Madagascans seemingly were not interested in tackling and allowed Namibia to post 89 points to have them qualify directly for the world cup. Zimbabwe who came second now go into the next qualification round.

Despite vast improvements in the 15s version of the game clearly more work needs to be done especially in the tight 5 where Kenya was “bullied” by the Sables. If Kenya can fix that we can well be on our way to match the lofty heights that have been reached by the 7s squad.

 
 

Starting a business in Kenya

15 Jul

Kenya is a economic giant in East Africa, which gives rise to multiple reasons why anyone should do business in the economic wonderland. Be it locals starting a business or foreigners seeking to invest Kenya meets the needs of all who would like be part of the Kenyan effort. The Kenyan government has made sure that Kenya remains an investment destination of choice and a centre of lasting economic growth. Various strategic manoeuvres have been implemented to achieve such goals which include Tax Treaties, regulatory reforms to lower costs of doing business by reducing the number of licensing requirements  and a more transparent regulatory process, focus on development of social and physical infrastructure, liberalising the economy to allow for free trade amongst other things.  Before one incorporates or registers a new firm one has to scale some legal and bureaucratic hurdles. It is important that a person complies with the provisions of the Kenyan Companies act. Kenyans also prefer to do business with companies rather than individuals. Setting a company in Kenya can be facilitated by private companies or one can do it by him or herself. For international investors it is best to consult the Kenya investment authority who are instrumental in offering advice and direction to companies looking to invest in Kenya and the region. They assist with obtaining necessary licenses and permits, they assist in obtaining incentives or exemptions for tax, provide information on business climate, operating rules and sources of capital. They also take pride in their after care services which are in place to ensure an ongoing working relationship with the investor. In summary for one to start a business one has to register the company in terms of the company act, for an international company it is very important to open a branch office in Kenya and register with Investment Kenya.

Kenya has a wide range of economic sectors for one to take part in. Ranging from environmental and natural resources, building and construction, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and energy.

 

 
 

Kenyan emigration trends.

11 Jul

There are plenty of reasons why Kenyans travel outside the country, some for pleasure and some for business. Some travel outside for the short temporary stay and some travel for longer stays, some reaching into an amassed multiple of years. Migration from Kenya has often been linked to higher education abroad and the return to Kenya to utilise skills and experienced garnered outside to help build the nation but more intimately to improve one’s socio economic fortunes extending family and then the community. Mirroring trends from other for British colonies with the destination of choice being the United Kingdom. In the years 2005/2006 the main migration destinations where UK. USA, Canada and Australia respectively. There is no prizes for guessing that they are English speaking countries. The UK has the biggest chunk of Kenyan emigrants accounting to over 51% and the rate continues to grow. The intertwined history of the two countries, the large contingent of South Asian Kenyans forced out in the 1970s provides a starting point for Kenyan migration. The presence of fellow countrymen makes it a somewhat easier decision to move to a particular place which is an undeniable human trait. Familiarity is paramount, a sense of belonging and a thriving emigrant community will make the choice easier for many. The ease of access to these countries is also a factor in choosing where to go. There are countries where Kenyans do not need a visa to go there or will be issued a visa on arrival, those include a lot of African countries and are mainly utilised by occasional or one time visitors. For the more permanent visitors they have to go through visa processes which may be stringent but somehow simple to follow. http://nairobi.usembassy.gov/non-immigrant_visas.html is a website potential emigrants can utilise for US visas and https://www.gov.uk/visas-immigration is one they can use for UK visas. These visas Kenyans mainly apply for is work and study, with trends showing that first port of call is study and then pursuing a work visa once the studies are complete. There have always been calls for those that live and work abroad to come back and help build Kenya. Some have heeded to those calls and those that remain abroad have played their part. Statistics show that remittance flows have more than doubled between 2004 and 2010. The surge has been contributed to emerging trends in money transfer, the world has seen the growth of remittance companies like mukuru.com, where diasporans can send money to Kenya, where the recipients get there funds through M-Pesa or have money deposited directly into their bank accounts. Such ease of process has helped tremendously in the emergence of Kenya as an economic powerhouse.

 
 

Mobile Money in Kenya

09 Jul

M-Pesa in which the M stands for mobile and Pesa is the Swahili word for money is the forerunner for mobile bases money transfer and micro financing in Kenya. Launched in 2007 by mobile network Safaricom, the service grew phenomenally and reached 17 million subscribers by the end of 2011 and continues to grow. M Pesa has a wide range of services that enable users to deposit and withdraw money, transfer money to non subscribers, pay bills, purchase airtime and of late access various banking services provided by Kenya’s Equity bank. For Kenyans based in the diaspora who want to send money to their loved ones send money through remittance companies like Mukuru.com who will avail the funds through M-Pesa. The industry is growing and there is stiff competition for market share from rival mobile operators. Another big player in the mobile money industry is Airtel Money which offers bank transactions as well as ATM cash withdrawals as well as withdrawing from an agent. The increased competition has fuelled innovation by the companies to bring out products and services that will have them stand apart from the rest. Yu Mobile powered by the Essar group launched its yuCash service with features that made it stand out from the other two competitors. On top of the standard features of mobile money it offered a request money service where a registered user can initiate a transaction by asking for a certain amount of money from another user. These extra services also include transaction history, short message with transactions, online help and the ability for users to build their own money networks.

The success of mobile money in Kenya has been nothing short of phenomenal. In just over four years, a country with only 1,072 bank branches has seen the number of agent outlets providing mobile money service grow to 46,000. People have access to financial services as never before, such that the proportion of the population which is completely excluded from financial services is lower in Kenya than any other African country except for South Africa. They say paying for a taxi ride is easier in Nairobi than in New York. Mobile money has been very successful in Kenya because it has been fast, easy, safe, convenient and inclusive of the whole Kenyan population. This encompassing of all economic brackets and the ability for even the non educated to understand and use such products have made mobile money a dominant finance platform in the country.

 
 

A quick look at the motor vehicle industry in Kenya

04 Jul

mobiusThinking of buying a new or newish car? Thinking of sending money home from abroad to help a loved on purchase a car or one on your behalf? The motor vehicle industry in Kenya is primarily involved in the retail and distribution of motor vehicles. There are a number of motor vehicle dealers operating in the country, with the most established being Toyota (East Africa), Cooper Motor Corporation, General Motors, Simba Colt and DT Dobie. There are also three vehicle assembly plants in the country, which concentrate on the assembly of pick-ups and heavy commercial vehicles. This means that in the sedan and saloon divisions rely heavily on car imports. One can import the vehicle new through a dealership or import second hand vehicles mainly from Japan and Dubai. These imports make up 70% of the market. Why do people choose these “ex Japs”? Firstly while the economy in East Africa is on the boom, the GDP still remains low for the majority and buying locally assembled or new imports is just out of the question for many. A quick browse on these second hand Japanese traders websites one can see that the prices there are affordable to people, you can even get a Toyota corrolla for the price of one locally assembled one. It makes sense to buy two instead of one vehicle and be the proud owner of multiple vehicles. Its not only in Eastern Africa that these second hand Japanese vehicles are proving to be popular, Southern Africa and New Zealand have been noted as other top destinations.

However efforts by car manufacturing firms like Mobius should be supported. Mobius Motor designs and manufactures vehicles for the African market utilising at least 35% of locally produced components to make up the vehicle. The vehicle is an essentially local production which is affordable and those who want to purchase vehicles may try have a look at this vehicle. There are many benefits, the more uptake of their vehicles the more funds they will have to develop further their products and a general boost for the Kenyan Economy. Remittances coming to Kenya through remittance companies like mukuru.com should partner local firms like Mobius to promote their services as well as promote Mobius into an African motoring giant. A concerted effort to buy Kenyan in particular and African in general will go a long way to sustain our economies.

 
 

Investing in Kenya Part 3

01 Jul

Kenya is open for business ladies and gentlemen. The words stability, growing, booming, steady, fertile and safe are synonymous with the Kenyan economy. Rating as one the continents top investment destinations, there is little to dissuade potential investors from sowing their financial seeds in the Kenyan economy. The Kenyan government has put in place favourable concessions to lure investors with them lowering the requirements of investment and making the licensing procedure more transparent and more simple to understand.  The government has identified six sectors including manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing, tourism, business process outsourcing (BPO), finance, wholesale and retail as the key drivers of growth in the next two decades and with the discovery of oil off the coast of Kenya has significantly raised interest in the company from various mining firms and off shoot enterprises. The fortunes look favourable for this East African giant to take over Africa and move onto the global stage. The Kenyan government is also re-defining the role of our diplomatic missions abroad with a view of making them more oriented towards promoting the country as an attractive investment and tourism destination, as Kenya pursues economic diplomacy. The potential for growth is phenomenal, a concerted effort from all stake holders and an emphasis on local industry growing, making sure Kenya itself benefits from all the financial attention. Kenya ladies and gentlemen is open for business.