Investing In Africa: Kenya To Issue First-Ever Infrastructure Bond Via Mobile

Investing In Africa: Kenya To Issue First-Ever Infrastructure Bond Via Mobile

Ordinary Kenyans will be able to lend at least 3000 Kenyan shillings ($28) to their government and earn interest following the launch of an infrastructure bond trading via mobile phone, KenyaCitizenTV reports.

The bond — a first for mobile globally — is tailor-made for retail investors, according to a video on KenyaCitizenTV.

The new mobile bond platform, named M-Akiba, is set for launch in three weeks’ time. It’s being delivered in partnership with Safaricom’s M-Pesa service, and it will expand access for retail bond trading, traditionally the domain of commercial banks and institutional investors.

“The government needs to raise money through its government bond program, and on the other hand they are also looking at financial inclusion and trying to see how they can get Kenyans to invest and save more,” said Rose Mambo, CEO of Central Depository and Settlement Corp., in a CNBCAfrica report.

Analysts believe there is need to enhance the savings culture among Kenyans, according to a report in CajNews.

Just 11 percent of Kenyans save on a regular basis compared to 22 percent in neighboring Uganda and Rwanda.

“M­-Akiba is yet another innovative application that will help more people save and invest, while making it faster for the government to raise funds,” said Stephen Chege, a Safaricom director. This is a sign of the continuing transformation that mobile money can deliver to boost government efficiency in collecting revenue while providing more access to financial services for Kenyans, Chege said.

An estimated 23 million Kenyans could potentially participate in the 5-billion Kenyan shilling ($47 million) government infrastructure bond, according to National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, KenyaCitizenTV reports.

“Over the years, 98 percent uptake in government bonds has been by institutional investors, with only 2 percent going to individual investors and this has left out many Kenyans from participating in raising funds for nation building,”  Rotich said.

To invest in the government bond, Kenyans will need to have a mobile phone and must open a central deposit account.

Kenyans will earn interest on their bond savings at a rate that is yet to be determined.

The Kenyan treasury recently lowered the minimum cost of government bonds from 50,000 Kenyan shillings ($475) to 3,000 Kenyan shillings ($28).

Kenyans are making more and more payments through mobile phones, CNBCAfrica reports.

“Everybody has a cell phone and for us that’s a good entry point,” said Mambo. “When you look at the number of Kenyans using mobile money, we are talking about over 20 million, so for us that link between the mobile money, the cell phone and then investment in government securities was an obvious link to make.”

Kenyans don’t know much about government bonds, the bond market or the fixed income market, so an educational roadshow is planned.

“The challenge for us over the next three weeks is a lot of investor education, a lot of promotion just to ensure that people understand what this product is, what are the benefits for me and how do I actually get involved in investing in the product,” Mambo told CNBCAfrica.