Nairobi September 01, 2017…. For the second year in a row the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has been recognized as the Most Innovative Capital Markets Regulator Africa by the International Finance Magazine Awards 2017 (IFM Awards) in appreciation of initiatives to promote innovation and deepening of capital markets in Kenya.
The IFM Awards seek to honour individuals and organisations in the international finance industry that make a significant contribution to enhance innovation and drive performance.
Commenting on the recognition announcement, the CMA Chief Executive, Mr. Paul Muthaura said, ”The Authority, through the leadership of its Board, is committed to facilitating innovation in financial services through leveraging Kenya’s positioning in the region as an innovation centre. We continue to actively engage with and share experiences with peer regulators driving financial services innovation in markets as diverse as Australia and Abu Dhabi Global markets. These engagements have allowed us to develop a strategy framework for implementation of a regulatory sandbox to support fintech innovations in the capital markets.”
In parallel, in order to unlock the potential for local business to leverage the capital markets domestically, Mr. Muthaura noted that the CMA, in partnership with industry players, has been convening Business Incubator and Accelerator on the Listing Experience events which have provided an opportunity for 70 potential issuers to participate in structured engagements with the Transaction Advisors, the Nairobi Securities Exchange, Nominated Advisors, Lawyers, Auditors, Stockbrokers and Investment Banks, among other service providers including the CMA, to discuss their readiness for listing. This initiative is underpinned by the objective of the 10-year (2014-2023) Capital Market Master Plan of facilitating 3-4 new listings annually.
In its drive to fast-track the roll-out of new products and services in capital markets, CMA has also adopted a principle-based approval approach. As a result of this principle-based approval approach, CMA successfully issued two policy guidance notes (PGNs) to operationalize issuance frameworks for Asset-Backed Securities and Global Depositary Receipts and Notes. In the same year, the Authority also issued a PGN to facilitate the rollout of Exchange Traded Funds resulting in the first listing of such a product in Kenya.
In order to balance the Authority’s market regulation and market development mandates, within the same period, the Authority took significant strides in the implementation of the Code of Corporate Governance for Issuers of Securities to the Public (Corporate Governance Code) through the conduct of extensive stakeholder sensitization, the gazettement of a Stewardship Code and the introduction of a robust reporting template to ensure comparability of the quality of governance in different issuers as well as to inform the publication of corporate governance scorecards to empower investor decision making.
The recent gazettement of the Stewardship Code has placed Kenya at the forefront of global trend setters on corporate governance through equipping institutional investors to promote sustainable shareholder value and long term success in the companies in which they invest using the tools and practices established by the Stewardship Code.
In order to complement efforts to strengthen external oversight of sound practices in public issuers and licensed intermediaries, the Authority also launched over the period a web-based whistle blower portal to facilitate anonymous reporting of malpractices in the capital markets to complement its surveillance and investigations activities.
In line with the Government of Kenya’s aspiration to position Kenya as an Islamic Finance hub in the region and deepen the application of Islamic Finance within the economy, the Authority was honoured to host the joint financial sector regulators Project Management Office on Islamic Finance which drove a raft of targeted measures included in the Finance Act 2017 designed to support the growth of Islamic Finance in Kenya. The measures included; amendment to the Capital Markets Act to facilitate Shariah-complaint capital market products; amendment of the Income Tax Act to provide for equivalent tax treatment of Shariah-compliant products with conventional financial products; exemption from payment of Stamp Duty on transfer of title relating to Sukuk (the Shariah-compliant equivalent of conventional bonds) and to support Asset-Backed Securities transactions; and amendment to the Public Finance Management Act to allow for Government to raise capital through Sukuk.
With the view of walking the journey of market development with all investors and the general public in Kenya, the Authority was also pleased to champion robust investor education programs across all 47 counties in Kenya reaching approximately 20,000 people in 30 counties to date.