Kenya may be looking forward to what is sure to be a heated election in under 3 months but the country is still pushing forward on many fronts. Kenyan citizens will soon be enabled to buy government bonds on their cell phones.
The country’s treasury made the announcement about the M-Akiba bond on Tuesday. The M-Akiba bond will be the world’s first mobile-only government bond and will finally go on sale on Thursday after a delay that was almost two years long.
The first word about the mobile-only government bonds was spoken in 2015 and it was aptly named after the Kiswahili word akiba which can be translated to “savings”. It was touted as a new way to give ordinary Kenyans access to the country’s capital markets.
To that end, investors can choose to buy increments as small as 3,000 shillings (about $30), a big difference from the minimum of 50,000 shillings that individuals had to shell out previously to buy government bonds. The Treasury hadsaid in a press release at the time;
“This product is for a mama mboga, farmer, employee, hustler or whatever,”
After readying the people for its release, however, M-Akiba was delayed over clearance issues. With the anticipated Thursday release, the bond will be offered on Africa’s biggest mobile money network, M-Pesa, which got its start in Kenya, as well as other mobile money networks.
Investors will then be able to buy and sell the bonds on the Nairobi Securities Exchange via their phones. As one would have it on M-Pesa, both smart phones and basic features phones can be used.
Of course, Kenya’s government is not being entirely alturistic, the new investors for government bonds via M-Akiba will be a source of money that will likely be used to finance large infrastructure projects and an upcoming election.
Currently, with the 50,000 shillings minimum, only 2% of government bonds in Kenya are bought and sold by individual investors.