Kenya will launch its international financial centre later this year, CS Treasury Henry Rotich said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the launch of Capital Market Authority strategic plan 2018-23, Rotich said the Nairobi International Financial Centre to be established in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area will help attract international capital into the Kenyan market.
The launch will see Kenya join South Africa, Morocco and Mauritius as countries with financial hubs in Africa.
“We will be shortly appointing a board and interim management that will spearhead the finalisation of technical operation aspects in readiness for the launch of NIFC later this year,” Rotich said.
In July last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the NIFC Bill into law. It paves the way for a legal framework to facilitate and support the development of an efficient and globally competitive financial services sector in Kenya.
The Act also established the Nairobi Financial Centre Authority mandated with with establishing and maintaining an efficient operating framework to attract and retain firms.
Other functions include developing and recommending strategies and incentives in collaboration with relevant agencies to attract firms to the financial hub.
In 2014, Qatar pledged to support Kenya in establishing a financial hub.
The government will however have a daunting task to convince opponents of the idea that the centre will not turn the country into a tax haven. Rotich praised CMA for premising its plan on the Big Four Agenda, saying this will see the authority tap into low, middle and high income segments to invest in Big Four capital related products.
In the plan, CMA is targeting to trade at least four agricultural commodities as it seeks to meet a target of Sh3.5 trillion of equity market capitalisation.
CMA is also targeting at least five financial technologies to be admitted and raise Sh80 billion in new corporate debt listings on NSE. It is also want at least two county governments to use capital markets to raise funds.
CMA chairperson James Ndegwa said the plan has considered the outcomes anticipated in the Big Four Agenda alongside other national and global sustainable development goals and identified where the authority may have the greatest impact. Chief executive Paul Muthaura said the strategy is a soft engine to lift Kenya’s capital market standards.