UK firm signs up to join Nairobi Financial Centre
Lewis Njoka @LewisNjoka
Prudential Plc, a British multinational insurance company has submitted a letter of intent to join Kenya’s new Nairobi International Financial Centre (NIFC) as one of the anchor clients.
Kenya has been working since 2014 to establish the centre, which aims to become a gateway for capital flowing in and out of Africa and to compete with established financial centres like Mauritius.
The letter was submitted at a high-level roundtable at The Mansion House in London attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic, Raab among other dignitaries.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Ukur Yattani lauded the move, saying it would help position Nairobi as the region’s financial hub.
“We are particularly keen to strengthen our engagements with investors in the UK under the newly revitalised Public-Private Partnership model.
The reforms; from shortened processing time to simple and friendly investments procedures without compromising governance has made the unit responsive to private sector,” he said.
“Additionally, we have made great strides in the establishment of the Nairobi International Financial Centre in recognition of our capital’s standing as a distinguished financial hub on the African continent.
We are keen to partner with you and learn from the City of London as a global financial centre,” Yatani added.
He said through collaboration with the likes of CityUK, NIFC will attract increased investment and financing into the country contributing to the wider efforts to drive economic growth and support the achievement of economic goals outlined in the Vision 2030 roadmap.
Prudential Plc chair, Shriti Vadera, said investing in Kenya was part of the company’s long growth strategy in Africa.
“Africa is an important part of our long-term growth strategy and I am delighted that the UK and Kenya are collaborating on financial services, where there are many opportunities for innovation,” he said.
The Nairobi International Financial Centre offers a progressive legal and regulatory framework, competitive financial and economic incentives and a vibrant financial ecosystem developed in collaboration with stakeholders in both public and private sectors.
Competitive financial services
According to Treasury, NIFC aims to achieve a stable, efficient and globally competitive financial services sector in Kenya by creating more opportunities for domestic and international savings and investments, attracting more foreign direct investment and supporting local companies to become more competitive.
The NIFC aims to raise over Sh217 billion in targeted incremental cumulative investments by 2030.
As well as serving as a gateway to Africa for investors, the centre also aims to deepen the local financial and capital markets.
Kenya’s capital markets are relatively developed, but 75 per cent of all business financing in the economy was from banks, the finance ministry has said in the past, adding that this situation was not ideal.
Last month, Kenya moved closer to establishing the international financial centre with the National Treasury appointing a capital markets task force.
Yatani appointed a steering committee to be known as the Capital Markets Master Plan Implementation Steering Committee (CMMISC) .
The committee will take overall responsibility for oversight in the implementation of the Kenya Capital Markets Master Plan and facilitating its alignment with the establishment of Kenya as the heart of capital markets financing and investment in Africa and Nairobi as an International Financial Centre.
It will further direct the Capital Markets Authority Board to appoint a taskforce, working groups and relevant subcommittees to facilitate the execution of the plan.