President Uhuru Kenyatta Monday rang the bell to kick off the trading of Kenya’s first green bond at the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
Speaking during the launch, the President urged UK investors to use Kenya as a gateway to investing into Africa and a bridge to the emerging market of more than 1.2 billion people created by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“Kenya is one of the top ten fastest-growing economies on the continent and also one of the most pro-business nations in Africa,” President Kenyatta said.
With a dynamic and diverse business sector, the President pointed out that Kenya’s business environment is ranked among the top three in Africa.
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Over 60 Kenyan companies are featured in the London Stock Exchange’s “Companies to Inspire Africa” report in sectors ranging from agriculture to FinTech.
The President, who is in London to attend the UK–Africa Investment Summit, said he was delighted to open the day’s trading at one of the world’s oldest Stock Exchanges.
“There is no better place to appreciate the realities of global economic activity and investment trends than this trading floor,” President Kenyatta said.
The $40 million (over 4 billion shillings) bond by Nairobi-based property developer Acorn Holdings that started trading today at the LSE after its launch by the President becomes the first Kenya shilling denominated corporate green bond to be listed in the United Kingdom.
The bond, which was first listed at the Nairobi Stock Exchange last week, will help Acorn Holdings raise funds to build environmentally friendly accommodation for 50,000 university students in Nairobi.
The President assured that Kenya will continue to develop the investment environment for sustainable finance, saying a policy framework that will enable the country to issue a sovereign green bond and strengthen its position as a regional financial hub has been finalized.
“I invite the LSE to continue working with Kenya towards achieving this goal,” he said.
The Kenyan leader applauded last year’s signing of an MoU by the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the London Stock Exchange to work with Kenyan companies to help them expand their footprint by jointly listing on the bourse in Nairobi and in London.
He also commended LSE for being the first global exchange to set up a dedicated green bond segment in response to the global need for climate-smart infrastructure.
“I note that to date the LSE has admitted over 200 bonds from across the world, raising over 33 billion Pound Sterling worth of capital for sustainable development,” he pointed out.
President Kenyatta observed that green bonds provide a great opportunity for African countries as well as those from the Caribbean and the Pacific region, which are at great risk from the effects of climate change, to access large scale capital for sustainable growth.
The Head of State assured that Africa offers unparalleled investment opportunities, saying the continent holds more than 30 percent of the global reserves of natural resources, has some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, a fast-expanding middle class and untapped consumer potential.
“Africa is also a very young continent with 60 percent of its population below the age of 25.
“There is probably no better time for African nations and the United Kingdom to explore new and innovative ways of deepening the long-standing partnerships that have existed between our nations,” President Kenyatta said.
Following the decision to withdraw from the European Union, President Kenyatta said the UK has a renewed mandate to build even stronger investment partnerships with Africa.
Secretary of State for International Development, Rt. Honourable Alok Sharma, said one of the reasons the green bond was happening was because of the support the UK government has provided in terms of the regulation environment and the partial guarantees for investors.
“This is a landmark moment here as well as in the whole of London for we are here today because of the UK-Africa Investment Summit. We have over eight of the 50 fast growing economies in the world in Africa.
“We have got 21 countries coming together for the summit, wonderful leaders like President Kenyatta coming and supporting us. This is about making a huge difference and presents the UK as the partner of choice for Africa. It is also wonderful seeing the economies of Africa presented as partners of choice for the UK,” Mr Sharma said.
Acorn Holdings CEO Edward Kirathe thanked the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for supporting the delivery of accommodation to 50,000 university students in Kenya, saying this accounts for 10 percent of the Big 4 Agenda target.
“Thanks to partners like DFID, we have the capital, the know-how and the capacity to deliver this within the set period,” Mr Kirathe said.
He said the listing of the green bond at the LSE has opened the way for Acorn and other Kenyan businesses to access the huge pools of capital available in the international market.
Cabinet Secretaries Ukur Yatani, Monica Juma and Adan Mohammed, Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge and Kenyan High Commissioner to the UK Amb. Manoah Esipisu also attended at the event.