Kenya has a broadly stable and resilient financial sector comprising a number of stakeholder groups – from commercial banks, brokers and insurance companies to pension funds, savings credit cooperatives and fintechs, among other players. The country’s financial system stands out in a global emerging market context for several reasons. For example, since the launch of mobile money in 2007, Kenya’s payments ecosystem has matured into a global success story, supported by innovation-friendly policies, strong connectivity infrastructure and a dynamic cohort of homegrown technology entrepreneurs.
Nairobi has also become a go-to regional capital centre, attracting growing numbers of domestic and international investors. However, structural challenges remain, including public and private sector capacity gaps, low liquidity (in public equity markets especially), and limited risk appetite for extension of SME credit among lenders.
From 2015 to 2019, Kenya’s economy achieved broad-based growth averaging 4.7% per year, significantly reducing poverty (which fell to an estimated 34.4% at the $1.9/day line in 2019). In 2020, the COVID-19 shock hit the economy hard, disrupting international trade and transport, tourism, and urban services activity, in particular. Fortunately, the agricultural sector, a cornerstone of the economy, remained resilient, helping to limit the contraction in GDP to only 0.3%. In 2021, the economy staged a strong recovery, although some sectors, such as tourism, remained under pressure. GDP growth is projected at 5.0% in 2022 and the poverty rate has resumed its trend decline after rising earlier in the pandemic. Although the economic outlook is broadly positive, it is subject to elevated uncertainty, including through Kenya’s exposure (as a net fuel, wheat, and fertilizer importer) to the global price impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Our Kenya Green Bond Program is catalysing the market for green bonds. With Cardano Development and InfraCo Africa, we are developing a credit enhancement facility to provide 100% guarantees for corporate bond issuances for climate-resilient projects. We are also investing in 4R Digital to build a tech-enabled platform to help democratise access to climate finance for small, green projects in Africa.
We are supporting the government to develop a green fiscal policy framework. In 2021, we supported the Capital Markets Authority (CMA)’s Capital Market Master Plan review to align it with emerging priorities such as green finance. We are also providing technical assistance under the Africa Regulatory Support Programme (ARSP) to review the collective investment schemes regulatory framework; develop regulation for alternative investment funds, private equity and venture capital; and strengthen CMA Kenya’s risk-based supervision tools and operational framework.
We are assisting Britam to create the information and data analytics base to inform the design of digital and physical healthcare interventions for low-income customers and also supporting the IRA BimaLab designed for insuretech innovators to help turn validated insurance-focused ideas into market and investor-ready projects. We are helping establish the All-in Africa Financial Digital Innovation Platform, an online digital innovation platform with an ecosystem of insurtech partners who are using the online space to connect, collaborate, host events, ideate, store content and learn.
We are working on the establishment of the EABX Over-The-Counter (OTC) bond trading platform.