President Uhuru Kenyatta on 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,” Uhuru 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.
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,” he said.
The $40 million (over 4 billion shillings) bond by Nairobi-based property developer Acorn Holdings that started trading on Monday 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 finalised.
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“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.
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.
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.
National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge and Kenyan High Commission to the UK Amb. Manoah Esipisu also attended at the event.