Kenya is positioning itself as Africa’s next big financial hub

Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has successfully established itself as a regional hub for trade, commerce, innovation and technology. Now, it wants to compete with Mauritius or even Dubai to be Africa’s new financial hub, positioning itself as a global gateway for capital flowing into Africa’s rapidly growing economies.

The country launched this year the Nairobi International Financial Center (NIFC) to deepen Africa’s financial sector, with a target of raising $2bn in investments by 2030. The project has been in the making since 2014 and joins a series of ambitious Kenyan ventures supporting the country’s competitiveness, including the Konza Technopolis.

The project received a major boost last July during Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to the United Kingdom. The visit resulted in the announcement of GBP 132m of UK investment into Kenya and marked the official launch of the NIFC in formal partnership with the City of London.

British insurer Prudential notably submitted its application to be the first company to set up in the NIFC while Kenyan mining company Mayflower Gold announced plans to dual list its shares on both the London and Nairobi Stock Exchanges in a deal worth £14 million. The deal ALSO includes closer links between the London and Nairobi stock exchanges, as well as moves to ease incorporation and registration of companies in Kenya.

While Kenya’s capital markets are relatively developed, the country’s businesses and economy at large still relies massively on commercial debt from banks. The launch of the NIFC is seen as an additional mechanism to promote the Nairobi Stock Exchange while contributing to the deepening of the region’s capital markets.

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