For Maria Mkwawa, the Tanzanian government’s decision to issue her with a formal land title to her home in January was a pleasant surprise.
“It will help me in many ways,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“My family has a bright future.”
Mkwawa is one of hundreds in the impoverished Magomeni ward of the East African nation’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, who recently received what are known as residential licences.
The documents, which are equivalent to land title, form part of a nationwide programme that began in June 2018 to secure property rights for home owners in informal settlements. It is currently focused on Dar es Salaam.
As one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities, and home to about five million people, Dar es Salaam is rapidly urbanising.
About 70 percent of its residents live in informal settlements without clean water and decent sanitation, according to UN-Habitat, the U.N. agency for urban development.
Until recently, the government regularly demolished homes in informal settlements. In October 2017, housing minister William Lukuvi announced a nationwide programme to knock down such dwellings.
But, in January, Lukuvi said that had changed: a new policy of providing land tenure would help the urban poor.
“We will no longer demolish informal and unplanned settlements. The government will instead recognise and license property owners in those areas,” Lukuvi was quoted as saying in local media.
He said the policy shift was a directive from President John Magufuli, who held that it was not the fault of poor people that they built homes in such areas.
“A property without a land title is worthless. Once these properties are formalised, rightful owners can use them as loan security,” said Lukuvi.
POWER OF THE LICENCE
The programme follows on the heels of a 2016 effort to seize agricultural land left undeveloped by investors and return it to poor farmers, in a bid to quell conflicts between farmers, herders and developers.
Although critics have accused the government of acting simply to garner votes from the poor ahead of next year’s general election, Nathaniel Mathew, a deputy land commissioner, said that was not the case.
“Policies and plans to upgrade unplanned settlements have nothing to do with the elections,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
In January, Lukuvi told reporters that the programme would help more than two million residents of Dar es Salaam, with the ultimate goal to provide title to all residents of informal settlements nationwide.
For Mkwawa, holding the residential licence provided proof that she was the rightful owner of the property. It also meant that nobody could demolish her home with impunity.
“I have a lot of confidence now,” she said.
That was not the case two years ago, when Mkwawa’s home, built in an area that was not zoned for housing near the Jangwani wetland near the city centre, was demolished.
Back then, the city authorities repeatedly knocked down homes built in areas deemed prohibited – including areas that lacked planning permission or that were constructed in reserves or on tracts of land allocated for infrastructure.
The 45-year old mother of four had spent scorching days and cold nights huddled with her family by the rubble.
Having land title gave Mkwawa, who cooks and sells fried fish from a street stall, the chance to seek a loan of 1 million shillings ($450) to grow her business from AccessBank, which describes itself as a socially responsible bank.
As cities rapidly urbanise, governments face many challenges in improving the quality of life for slum dwellers, who are increasingly vulnerable to health and environmental hazards, said Lusuga Kironde, professor of urban development at Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam.
The programme hinges on the fact that most properties are unregistered and the owners lack proof of ownership. Getting that document should help residents of informal settlements to access credit, said Kironde.
And, he added, legitimising ownership could help the urban poor in other ways.
“If you don’t have title to prove ownership of a house, you usually have no legal recourse if that home is taken away from you,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Property titles provide security for loans and a proof of existence of wealth which, along with a formal address, serves to strengthen business trust and social capital, Kironde said.
The land title policy falls within a broader programme called MKURABITA, which aims to transform property and businesses held in the informal sector into legal entities that are rooted firmly in the formal sector.
The government has urged financial institutions to accept the documents since they bear the same legal status as title deeds.
Yet although residential titles do offer legal protection, said Yefred Mnyenzi, a land rights researcher, they had largely failed to lift people out of poverty, in part because some banks would not accept them as security.
It is also the case that some residents are wary of using their property as security in the event they defaulted.
“If I use my house to borrow the money, where will my family live once it’s sold for failure to repay the loan?” asked Mawazo Kwiyera, a resident of Magomeni ward in Dar es Salaam.
BLESSING FOR SLUMDWELLERS
Some residents, however, have leaped at the chance. Sabina Luhago – a widow with three children – wanted to expand her small shop, but was unable to do so until the the government issued residential licences to people in Tandale, the largest unplanned neighbourhood in Dar es Salaam.
Initially, she said, she did not know that her residential document was sufficient to secure a bank loan.
Sijaona Simon, marketing manager at AccessBank, said that in considering the particular needs of the poor, the bank accepted government-issued collateral documents.
It had also made getting a loan easier.
“If everything is in order, we disburse the money within a week,” he said.
Luhago said she was able to borrow 1.5 million shillings. The process saw AccessBank officials inspect her business, check her residential licence, and then take a photograph of her standing in front of the shop.
“I feel very much secure now. My children’s future is bright,” she said.
BCCI: The bank ‘that would bribe God’
“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank. The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain.
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
East Africa celebrates top women in banking and finance
The Angaza Awards for Women to watch in Banking and Finance in East Africa took place Online via Zoom on 8th June 2021.
The event was set to celebrate the top 10 women shaping banking and finance across East Africa. The 2021 Angaza Awards, which will be a Pan-African Awards program, was also announced at the event.
Key speakers at this webinar were Dr Nancy Onyango, Director of Internal Audit and Inspection at the IMF; and Gail Evans, New York Times Best Selling Author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman and former White House Aide and CNN Executive Vice President.
Dr Nancy Onyango advised women to deep expertise in their fields, spend time in forums and link with key players in that sector.
“Gain exposure with other cultures by seeking for employment overseas and use customized CV for each job application,” said Dr Onyango.
According to Gail Evans, women should show up and be fully present in meetings and not be preoccupied with other issues.
“Be simple and avoid jargon. Multi-tasking only means that you are mediocre Smart people ask good questions in a business meeting. Most women face drawbacks due to perfectionism, procrastination and fear of failure, said Evans.
She advised women to play like a man and win like a woman, be strategic, and intentionally make their moves to get to the top.
“For us to pull up businesses that have been affected by effects of COVID-19 pandemic, we need to re-invent business models, change the product offering and make more use of digital platforms,” said Mary Wamae Equity Group Executive Director.
Mary Wamae emerged top at the inaugural Angaza awards( East Africa) ahead of other finalists.
While women continue to excel in banking and finance, the number of that occupies top executive positions is still less.
“There is a gap for women occupying C suite level and it continues to widen in the finance sector. At entry level, there is still an experience gap for women,” said Nkirote Mworia, Group Secretary for UAP-Old Mutual Group.
She said that at the Middle Management level, women do not express their ambition. For this reason, UAP-Old Mutual has developed an executive sponsorship program to help women get to the next level.
Mworia added that most women hold the notion that top positions in management have politics and pressure.
“One needs leadership skills and not technical expertise to get to the top,” said Mworia.
According to Catherine Karimi, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officer of APA Life Assurance Company, women need to focus on the strengths and natural abilities that they already have.
“Take risks and raise your hand to get to the high table. Find mentors along the way and develop your own brand and not compare yourself with others Focus on your strengths because it will make you move faster in the career ladder,” said Karimi.
Lina Mukashyaka Higiro, a Rwandan businesswoman and chief executive officer of the NCBA Bank Rwanda since July 2018, has three lessons for women who want to excel in banking and finance.
“Always spend at least 20 minutes each day reading, seeking genuine feedback from other staff members and widen your network,” Higiro told the webinar.
Women picked for Angaza awards
Mary Wamae, Executive Director, led this year’s Top 10 Women in Angaza Awards, Equity Group (Kenya)(2)Catherine Karimi, Chief Executive Officer, APA Life Insurance Company (Kenya)(3)Lina Higiro, Chief Executive Officer, NCBA Bank (Rwanda)(4)Elizabeth Wasunna Ochwa, Business Banking Director, Absa Bank (Kenya)(5)Joanita Jaggwe, Country Head of Risk and Compliance, KCB Group (South Sudan)(6) Millicent Omukaga, Technical Assistance Expert on Inclusive Finance, African Development Bank (Kenya)(7)Emmanuella Nzahabonimana, Head of Information Technology, KCB Group (Rwanda)(8)Judith Sidi Odhiambo, Group Head of Corporate Affairs, KCB Group (Kenya)(9)Rosemary Ngure, ESG & Impact Manager, Catalyst Principal Partners (Kenya) and(10)Pooja Bhatt, Co-Founder, QuantaRisk and QuantaInsure (Kenya).
The Kenyan Wallstreet, a financial media firm, partnered with Kaleidoscope Consultants to raise awareness of seasoned women shaping and influencing the sector through their organizations.
The Angaza Award criteria included assessing the applicants’ area of responsibility and contribution to firm performance. Professionals in Banking, Capital Markets, Insurance, Investment Banking, Fintech, Fund Management, Microfinance, and SACCOs were invited to submit their applications or nominations via the Kenyan Wallstreet Award Web page.
IFC in New Partnership to Develop Affordable Housing in Mombasa County
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed a new deal in support of affordable housing in Kenya.
The corporation has partnered with Belco Realty LLP, to develop a mixed use affordable living complex that will consist of 1,379 residential units and over 4,500 square meters of retail and commercial spaces in Kongowea, Mombasa County.
Together with the Kenyan firm, IFC says the partnership will help meet surging demand for housing in Kenya.
Under the agreement, IFC will help identify suitable international strategic partners to invest equity of up to $12 million, or Sh1.3 billion in Belco and to provide the company with the necessary technical support to develop the project.
The development, known as Kongowea Village, will be developed to foster inclusive and affordable community living within the city.
Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa says the project, which will be located on eight acres within the heart of Mombasa city, will aim to be a catalyst for wider city regeneration.
The project will be developed to meet IFC EDGE certification requirements and will incorporate the latest technologies in passive cooling, energy efficiency and water conservation to support sustainable urbanization.
Kongowea Village is expected to create 1,160 jobs and business opportunities during the three-year construction period and many more after completion of the project within the themed retail arcade.
“Access to quality housing is a growing problem in Kenya and across Africa,” said Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa.
“Developers often target the high end of the market, but this project is aimed squarely at the lower-income bracket. Helping Belco identify the right partners for this project is expected to attract more developers to Kenya and other parts of Africa to help meet rising demand for housing.”
“IFC‘s engagement with Belco will help Kenya support its rapidly growing and urbanizing population by increasing access to affordable housing. The problem is similar across most of Africa, where population growth and demand for quality housing are combining to outstrip supply. We are pleased to partner with a company such as Belco that is committed to contributing to solving this challenge,” said Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, IFC‘s Director for Transaction Advisory Services.
IFC’s partnership with Belco is part of its broader strategy to support better access to affordable housing in Kenya.
In 2020, IFC invested $2 million in equity in the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC) to help increase access to affordable mortgages and support home ownership in the country.