World Bank warns of Kenyan [ECA] debt distress

(Daily Nation, Nairobi, 31 October 2019) In its Kenya Economic Update for October 2019, to be released today, the World Bank notes that, “with 43% of domestic debt expected to mature within a year, the government could face challenges in rolling over such bonds in an environment of no interest rate caps, low subscription rates and over-exposure of commercial banks to these assets”. Signs of distress in paying debt came to the surface last month after it emerged that Kenya had defaulted on a Sh500 million (US$4.9m) debt owed to a Belgian export credit company for the construction of a water supply system in Mavoko. Credendo Export Credit Agency, an export credit agency of the Kingdom of Belgium, had written to the Treasury demanding the payment by November 1, accusing the government of failing to pay despite repeated reminders. As at 30th September 2019, the Star reported that most of Kenya’s bilateral debt is on concessional terms with no interest chargeable on Sh4.2 billion and an interest rate of just 2.08 per cent on Sh660.5 billion from Exim Bank of China (which constituted 74 per cent of total bilateral debt and got the relic like railway trains chugging along).