Imports from China fell in 2018 for the first time is as many years after the completion of the first phase of the standard gauge railway (SGR) mid last year, official data indicate.
Imports from China, largely machinery and transportation equipment, fell by Sh9.38 billion in the nine months through September, data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show. Beijing shipped in goods worth Sh292.2 billion in the January-September period compared with Sh301.60 billion the same period in 2017. The data shows shipment of machinery dropped in the period to Sh211.11 billion compared with Sh245.9 billion a year earlier, while transport equipment imports were nearly flat at Sh148.96 billion compared with Sh145.7 billion.
The two commodities have largely been major drivers of China’s export bill to Kenya after Beijing landed a lucrative $3.233 billion loan (Sh327.87 billion under prevailing rates) to build a 385km modern railway between Mombasa and Nairobi.
President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned passenger operations on the line on June 1, 2017, while cargo services were launched at the beginning of this year.
Deals to build mega roads projects as well as the first (Mombasa-Nairobi) and second Sh153 billion (Nairobi-Naivasha) phase of SGR line have propelled China to become the country’s largest source of imports. That growth in imports has not been replicated in exports to China which have remained low, falling marginally to Sh9.998 billion in 2017 from Sh10.060 billion a year earlier.
Kenya has made penetration of value-added farm produce such as tea, coffee and fruits into China and India a priority in the new exports strategy she unveiled on July 31, seeking to more than triple total exports in four years.
The ambitious Integrated National Exports Development and Promotion Strategy targets to grow exports, which stood at Sh594.13 billion in 2017, by 25 per cent every year to Sh1.8 trillion in 2022.
Nairobi and Beijing last month signed a memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of the week-long China International Import Expo to establish a joint working group to reduce trade barriers between the two countries, including phytosanitary standards, which will open up the populous market to fresh produce exports.
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.