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Afreximbank to announce new date for Nairobi office

By David Musyoka NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) said on Monday it will announce a new date for the signing of a deal with the government of Kenya on setting its regional headquarters in Nairobi, one of Africa’s fastest growing financial hubs.

In a response, the bank’s President Benedict Okey Oramah said through the bank’s communications department that the agreement with Kenya was not signed earlier this year as expected but a formal announcement would be made soon.

“The agreement (with Kenya) was not signed by the expected time frame. The Bank will make a decision on how to proceed,” noted a response from the bank’s Head of Communications Obi Emekekwue.

An investor briefing by Kenya’s investment company Cytonn Investments noted that the signing of this deal will see Kenya further establish itself as the regional headquarters hub, thus boosting foreign investor confidence and spurring economic growth.

“The bank’s location in Nairobi will create more job opportunities for the youth and generate business opportunities for entrepreneurs to venture into. Afreximbank has already become a significant player in Kenya’s economy, having financed deals close to 300 million U.S. dollars,” noted the brief.

Afreximbank is an initiative started by African governments, African private and institutional investors as well as non-African financial institutions and private investors for the purpose of financing, promoting and expanding intra-African and extra-African trade.

Kenya is growing its status as a financial hub for Africa, with Nairobi hosting African offices of major global financial companies.

Nairobi’s Upper Hill estate is also being upgraded to host the financial district with major local and international companies already having offices in the area.

In July, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed a law, Nairobi International Financial Centre Act, set to cement efforts to make Nairobi a global financial hub.

The Act also establishes the Nairobi Financial Centre Authority (NFCA), which will license firms that will operate within the center and also formulate the legal and regulatory structures to support the centre.

The authority is expected to review and recommend in collaboration with the relevant regulatory authorities, developments to the legal and regulatory framework in order to develop Kenya as an international competitive financial center.

In 2014, the government of Qatar agreed to help Kenya set up an international financial center and the two countries have since been collaborating on the same.

Some of the pending issues to be agreed on between the Afreximbank and Kenyan officials include whether to grant diplomatic immunity for its top executives and whether to exempt the bank’s employees from paying local taxes.

The bank’s other regional headquarters are in Abuja (Nigeria), Harare (Zimbabwe), Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire), Tunis (Tunisia) and Egypt (Cairo).

Earlier this month, Afreximbank announced in Nairobi that it will for the first time open up to retail investors as it hunts for 300 million dollars equity to shore its capacity to lend for light industry manufacturing.

The idea is to shore up the bank’s capital to meet what the officials said is increasing demand for financing from the private sector and its own goal of shifting Africa from dependence on commodities.

The bank projects that light manufacturing will also help to increase intra-Africa trade as countries will import less what is made locally.



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