NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya is considering putting in place tax incentives that will
spur the real estate sector to boost the supply of affordable
houses, an official said on Tuesday.
"We plan to put
together an aggressive tax package in the finance bill later
this year that will incentivize the construction of low-cost
houses," Charles Hinga, principal secretary in the Ministry of
Transport, Infrastructure Housing, Urban Development and Public
Works, told a housing conference in Nairobi.
Most of the houses built in Kenya are targeted at middle- and
high-income segment of the population, Hinga said.
Under an affordable housing program (AHP), the east African
nation plans to build 500,000 low-cost houses by 2022.
Hinga said the government will use private-sector funding to
facilitate provision of affordable homes to Kenyans.
In its Budget Policy Statement presented to parliament last
month, the national treasury allocated about 11 billion
shillings (110 million U.S. dollars) to the AHP.
Kenyan banks launch mobile
loan product targeting small enterprises
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s five commercial banks on Monday launched
the pilot phase of a mobile loan product targeting micro, small
and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs).
The loan product, marketed under the name Stawi, will
initially be managed by Commercial Bank of Africa Limited (CBA),
the Cooperative Bank of Kenya Limited, Diamond Trust Bank Kenya
Limited (DTB), KCB Bank (Kenya) Limited and NIC Group PLC.
Patrick Njoroge, governor of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK)
said the mobile-based credit scheme is set to improve access to
credit for small-to-mid-size enterprises, which have been locked
out of the formal credit market because of the informal nature
of their records and lack of collateral for secured loans.
"Until now, lending to MSMEs has been constrained by the lack
of reliable information to assess their creditworthiness.
"The innovation in this product is the use of all data on
customers’ transactions to fill this gap. In that sense it is
revolutionary," Njoroge said during the launch of Stawi in
He added that the cooperation between the five banks will
allow them to reach out to a growing number of small
enterprises, promoting job creation and income generation, with
a multiplier effect on the economy.
Stawi offers unsecured loan products ranging from 30,000
Kenyan shillings (300 U.S. dollars) to 2,500 dollars with
repayment profiles of one month to 12 months, at an interest
rate of nine percent per annum.
Njoroge said that this facility responds to the unique
financing needs of MSMEs.
He also emphasized that the sector is vital to the Kenyan
economy, and the product could not have been launched at a more
The pilot phase will be two weeks and will involve 3,500
traders in the MSME sector.
The second roll-out will be to 10,000 traders, who will be
registered by Stawi agents and will be involved in the second
round of tests for the app.
China committed to aiding
Kenya in expanding exports: Chinese envoy
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
China is committed to helping Kenya expand its
exports to the Asian nation to boost trade between the two
countries, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng has said.
Wu said China is paying greater attention to Kenya’s desire
to expand its exports, especially agricultural commodities.
"President Uhuru Kenyatta was right to put industrialization
as a priority of his Big Four Agenda.
"Only through industrialization can Kenya reduce imports and
promote exports," Wu said in an interview published in Kenya’s
Daily Nation newspaper early this week.
During a recent visit to China, Kenyatta witnessed an
agreement which opens the Chinese market for Kenyan avocados,
brightening prospects for other Kenyan horticultural products to
enter Chinese market.
"This will make Kenya the first African country to export
avocados to China.
"We are very proactive to make the agreement real.
"Both sides are working closely to seal a deal on the export
of fresh avocado and other products.
"There’s growing need in China for high quality agricultural
products and Kenya has prime opportunity.
"The market and policies are there, now both sides need to
engage the right market players so that the deals bear fruits,"
"As brothers, we understand how important agriculture export
is to Kenya.
"Last year as an outcome of President Kenyatta’s visit to our
country, China and Kenya signed an agreement on the export of
stevia to China, and the phytosanitary memorandum of
understanding, which paves the way for access of Kenyan
horticultural produce," said the official.
The ambassador said the Chinese government and companies are
both contributing in lowering Kenyan imports from China to boost
the east African nation’s economy.
"We are ready. For instance, a Chinese firm put up a
tile-building factory with investment of 8 billion shillings (80
million U.S. dollars) and the output is already meeting 85
percent of Kenyan market needs.
"Those tiles would be imported but are now made in Kenya and
even being exported to neighboring countries.
"The lesson is that we can’t only rely on the government if
we want to reduce the trade imbalance but encourage the private
sector," he said.
According to him, Kenya-China trade is determined by markets,
which means the economic situation and industrial structure of
each country influences the imbalance.
"We do not pursue trade surplus with Kenya as a policy.
"China’s total foreign trade in 2018 reached 4.62 trillion
dollars, of which China-Kenya trade volume was 5.3 billion
"That is about 0.1 percent of our foreign trade volume," he
Wu dismissed claims that the east African nation may lose its
assets if it defaults on repaying Chinese loans.
"Those assumptions are groundless and I don’t think Kenya
will default. Sometimes I think we should have common sense.
"Kenya is a sovereign state.
"Any asset in your country is protected by international law
and should be respected by other countries.
"These are unnecessary worries," he noted.
He observed that China has offered Kenya several grants that
have been used to finance major infrastructure projects, as he
dismissed assertions that its commercial loan is expensive.
"The Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, was entirely
funded by Chinese government grants.
"In the 1980s, China was a relatively poor country yet it
used taxpayer funds to build Kasarani.
"It was not easy for China.
"From Kenya’s independence, China has implemented more than
100 projects in Kenya under grants and interest-free loans.
"In last five years, seven construction aid projects and 13
material aid ones have been implemented. Five are in progress.
"These are grant projects," Wu said.
He added that half of all loans from China to Kenya are on
preferential export buyers credit and government concessional
loans with very low interest that is just a quarter or even less
than the prevailing global financial market rates.
"Any loan agreements between China and Kenya are in line with
"None of Kenyan national assets has been mortgaged for the
SGR loan and neither would any national asset be seized or
controlled by China, even in a situation of default," said Wu.
In the past, Britain, the U.S. and other western nations have
expressed concerns about growing Chinese engagement in Africa,
springing up fears that the continent was becoming a theatre for
super power competition as seen during the Cold War.
"We see support for African peace and development as a common
responsibility of the international community.
"We approach international community cooperation in Africa
with an open attitude.
"We welcome greater input from members of the global
community to support Africa’s development, but we maintain that
such cooperation shall respect Africa’s wishes, refrain from
interference in domestic affairs and come with no political
strings," the ambassador said.