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Kenya Economic Revival: From Market Low to World Leader Pushing for Digital Asset Regulation

Last Updated March 18, 2024 9:06 PM
Shraddha Sharma
Last Updated March 18, 2024 9:06 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Kenya’s stock market made a stunning recovery in 2024.
  • The African country has also been pushing digital asset regulations.
  • Can the introduction of a recovery board and improved shilling rates boost Kenya’s financial markets?

Kenya’s economy is seeing a swift turnaround from 2023 when it came to its financial market performance. The rejuvenation of the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), strategic economic policies, and new digital asset regulations can change the face of the market after investor confidence took a hit in 2023.

Recovery of the Securities Market

Less than three months into the year, Kenya’s main stock market index, the Nairobi Securities Exchange All-Share Index, has witnessed an almost 30% return for dollar investors. Bloomberg reported  that it outperformed over 90 global benchmarks. The impressive recovery comes after a 40% decline in 2023 when foreign investors started doubting the market’s stability.

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) could have played a crucial role in restoring investor faith. Reports  in February revealed the creation of a recovery board for struggling companies listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE). The initiative aimed to allow companies to stabilize over two years. The measures not only aid in reviving these firms but also in safeguarding investor interests, contributing to the resurgence in market confidence.

Strengthening the Market

Another boost to Kenya’s financial market is the strengthening of the Kenyan shilling. On March 18, the currency hit  an eight-month peak, thanks in part to inflows from dollar investments. This appreciation of the shilling is another factor for market confidence among African bourses.

As the traditional financial sector stabilizes, Kenya is also looking towards the future by embracing the digital economy. The Blockchain Association of Kenya (BAK) and other stakeholders are advocating  for the establishment of a regulatory sandbox. Local reports note that it would allow for the testing and regulation of new companies in the digital asset space before they receive their official licenses. Moreover, the proposed Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) Bill seeks to let businesses dealing in digital assets operate legally.

The government is also making a broader strategy to regulate trading amid concerns over money laundering and terrorism financing. Previously, reports  underlined that with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) closely monitoring, Kenya is taking proactive steps to ensure it doesn’t join the “grey list” nations.

Kenya Emerges as a Strong Player

Kenya’s economic narrative in the past few months has been positive. By turning the tide on its stock market performance and taking steps towards regulating digital assets, Kenya might be setting a precedent for economic revival and digital finance regulation.

The approach will restore investor confidence and could position the East African country as a strong global player.

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