Webinar Report – Digital Transformation of African Capital Markets: The case of M-Akiba in Kenya

08.05.2018, Global (online)

On Tuesday, May 08, 2018, Making Finance Work for Africa (MFW4A) hosted a webinar session on the digital transformation of African financial markets, mainly based on the innovative M-Akiba, retail bond issued by the Government of Kenya via the mobile phone platform.

The session was jointly organized by MFW4A, the BRVM (Regional Stock Exchange of the WAEMU region), the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the CDSC (Central Depository & Settlement Corporation Limited); Following the webinar, local telecommunication and finance stakeholders attending the live event at the BRVM Headquarters, discussed the readiness of the regional financial market for a digital transformation.

Dr Edoh Kossi Amenounvé, Managing Director of the BRVM, Geoffrey Odundo, Managing Director of the NSE and Rose Mambo, Managing Director of the CDSC in their opening remarks, outlined the importance of strengthening financial education and broadening the investor base by easing financial markets access to low and modest income people. NSE officers David Irungu Waggema, Head of Information Technology and Irene Mutiso, Head of Corporate Affairs were the event keynote speakers. The webinar was moderated by Peter Onyango, AfDB Senior Capital Market Officer.

M-Akiba, a Swahili word meaning savings, was designed to address 5 key objectives: 1) enhance financial inclusion for economic development; 2) provide greater access & democratization of sovereign debt ;3) provide funding for Government infrastructural development project;4) promote the savings and investment culture for Kenyans; and 5) drive a financial awareness campaign.

The tax-free bond has a tenure of 3 years and a coupon rate of 10% per annum payable twice a year. Key local stakeholders involved in the design and launch processes are the following:

·        The mandate Partners: National  Treasury, Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE),Central Depository Settlement Corporation (CDSC)

·        Mobile network Operators: Safaricom & Airtel) & Pesalink Interbank Money transfer service

·        Marketing Partners: Kenya Association of Stock Brokers & Investment Banks (KASIB)

·        The Liquidity provider: Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA)

·        The regulators and Supervisors: Capital Market Authority – CMA

·        The Call Center Managers: Huduma Kenya for call center

On March 23rd, 2017, the Kenyan government issued a pilot edition, successfully raising Kenyan Shillings (KES) Sh150 million (USD 1.5 million). Three months later, on June 30th, the government raised KES 247.75 million (USD 2.4 million), missing the KES 1 billion (USD 10 million) target. The money raised was earmarked to fund government infrastructure projects, both new and on-going.

The basic statistics of M-Akiba (Phase I and II) are as follows:

The Q & A session provided more details on the entire M-Akiba bond subscription process, ranging from registration to a mobile money account to the clearing stage involving the CDSC and finally the interest payments. Other questions focused on liquidity providers and how they intervened in M-Akiba subscription processes. With respect to liquidity providers, the main speakers explained that CBA (Commercial Bank of Africa) was chosen by the M-Akiba developers on the basis of a competitive bid, in order to provide a 'guarantee of exit' to any customers willing to trade their bond assets.

Representatives of the telecom industry also asked questions about the mechanism, the type of complaints received since the inception, as well as interactions with other mobile financial products like M-Shwari.

For more information on the webinar and the enriching Q & A session, please download the webinar recording HERE.