Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge is closing the year having broken ranks with former employer, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), even as he is expected to apply the multilateral lender’s policies in the monetary sector.
At the time he was appointed the governor, one of the first issues that arose was that he was beholden to IMF strait-jacket policy framework having worked there for decades and carried out reviews the institution normally does on members.
But Dr Njoroge recently said the shilling is, on broad terms, properly valued even as the IMF insisted that it is overvalued by as much as 18 percent – effectively advocating for the country to devalue the currency to achieve some economic aims that it did not clearly define.
However, devaluing a currency has been associated with beggar-thy-neighbour policies, which means a country’s exports become cheaper in the eyes of overseas buyers just at the same time as it is making imports expensive and therefore discouraging them. This normally has an adverse effect on neighbouring or partner trading countries including the possibility of pauperising them.
Several years ago, a World Bank report had also termed the Kenyan shilling as artificially strong, concluding that it was 34 percent overvalued, putting the country’s economic situation out of balance.
Dr Njoroge had also been expected to be strict with control of inflation by adopting the targeting framework recommended by the IMF but which – within Africa – has been adopted by only South Africa and Ghana, which are both resource-rich.
The inflation targeting framework works in a manner that gives little room for deviation from the set number, giving less flexibility on control of other measures.
For resource-poor countries, it may also require huge strategic reserves of oil and food – which contribute the largest portion in the CPI calculation.
It also requires development of an interest corridor, in which interbank rates remains within certain levels, but which is not yet in place.
Though Dr Njoroge has been reluctant to address the matter publicly, the CBK has made little progress towards the framework.
There have been several studies, some inconclusive, of the inflation targeting framework but a 2016 study by Andrew Phiri of the University of Western Cape concluded that African countries that adopted inflation targeting had been able to reduce persistence of inflation by 40 percent while those that had not adopted the regime saw persistence increase by 290 percent between 1994 and 2014.
Perhaps, Dr Njoroge’s independent stance should not have been surprising given that he initially declined a State offer of a posh house in the upmarket Muthaiga and opted for a simple lifestyle in shared church premises.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.