By Ken Macharia
The Kenya financial market has been ranked fifth in Africa with a score of 59 percent in the Africa Financial Markets Index.
South Africa, with a score of 92 percent is first in the index followed by Mauritius, Botswana and Namibia.
The index by Barclays Africa and the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) measures six pillars of financial markets namely; depth and breadth of financial instruments, access to foreign exchange and market transparency and regulation.
Other factors that the index looked at are macroeconomic opportunity, legality and enforceability.
“The Index provides countries with valuable insights and tools to improve the state of their financial markets,” said Jeremy Awori, Managing Director, Barclays Bank of Kenya. “By broadening and deepening their understanding of the requirements of local and international investors, Africa’s leaders can develop robust markets – a prime condition for sustainable, inclusive growth,” he added.
Kenya scored the highest ranking in East Africa attributed to its strong contract enforcement policies, market depth as well as the capacity of local investors, ahead of Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
Kenya outpaced its East African peers in the market depth pillar, which focussed on areas such as the range of financial products, currencies and hedging options available and capacity of local investors’ parameters.
The survey, however, challenged Kenya to improve on areas such as low historical growth in export market share, low GDP per capita and relatively small market capitalization.
“Improving the regulatory and policy environment is a prerequisite for attracting foreign capital,” said George Asante, Barclays Managing Director and Head of Markets. “The inaugural Barclays Africa Group Financial Markets Index is an important barometer measuring the progress and potential of Africa’s financial markets.”
“African financial markets have traditionally suffered from a lack of depth relative to other regions. This, he added, has been a key factor holding back the ability of firms and investors within and beyond the continent to exploit expansion opportunities.”