Kenya must leverage summit to boost trade

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
London Stock Exchange. Photo/Courtesy

Kenya on Monday reached yet another milestone when President Uhuru Kenyatta rang the bell to kick off trading of the country’s first green bond at the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

This came against the backdrop of a  Sh170 billion windfall worth of deals at the high profile UK-Africa Summit in London.

The $40 million (Sh4.5 billion) bond by Nairobi-based property developer Acorn Holdings, which is the first shilling-denominated corporate green bond to be listed in the UK, comes at a time the country is cementing her position as the region’s financial hub.

The bond, first listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange last week, will help Acorn Holdings raise funds to build 50,000 environmental-friendly accommodation units for students, and will go a long way towards helping more Kenyan firms tap synergies of cross listing in the two bourses.

Uhuru’s presence in London was an opportune time for the Head of State to boost trade for the country among his 20 African peers and businesspeople at the UK-Africa Investment Summit on trade and multilateral deals before the UK finalises its divorce with the European Union.

While the UK  could currently be aiming at getting the best deal with the EU, its biggest trading partner, this an apt opportunity for African countries  to put their best foot forward and firm it in the post-Brexit era.

The President and his entourage must be bullish in their bid to work solidify Kenya’s existing trade position, as one of the stable political corners in Africa, to deepen existing bilateral and multilateral agreements covering security, development and intelligence sharing.

The good news is that trade relations between the UK and Kenya will be conducted under the EU’s various existing deals this year.

Beyond the 2020 horizon, trade arrangements in a post-Brexit UK are also set to remain the same under a number of “continuity agreements”. However, these will also run out at some point. That’s when the real opportunities and challenges will emerge.

This is the opportunity for Kenya to push for some more preferential terms in negotiations hinged on the two countries historical ties. 

Uhuru can also leverage his influence as chair of the Ninth African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Summit of Heads of State and Government to get Kenya favourable deals.

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