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(Bloomberg) -- Kenya’s biggest bank by assets is in talks to acquire a lender in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the vast mineral-endowed central African country.

“We’re engaging with two institutions today that are in Congo,” KCB Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Joshua Oigara said in an interview on Thursday. The bank will settle on a single purchase, preferably one with a “national footprint, available in all provinces,” Oigara said, without giving more details. 

KCB was beaten to entry into the DRC market of more than 92 million people by Kenyan rival Equity Group Holdings Plc, which owns the second largest of the nation’s 17 commercial banks. The lenders have for long coveted Africa’s top copper-producing country, where China Molybdenum Co. plans to double the size of its giant copper-and-cobalt unit with a $2.5 billion investment and Glencore Plc intends to reopen its mine in the country after two years.

The Nairobi-based bank sees opportunity in lending, fees and transaction incomes, funding manufacturing and expanding its customer base in the DRC.

Business Outlook

The DRC is more open to allowing foreign lenders to set up shop than Ethiopia, where KCB is also keen on an acquisition, KCB Chairman Andrew Wambari told an investor briefing on Thursday. “We don’t want to go into greenfield anymore there,” Wambari said, adding, “mergers and acquisitions is something we’ll continue to do, but very selectively.” 

Until banking regulations in Ethiopia change in favor of foreign participation, Congo will be the next market for KCB, Oigara said. 

In the meantime, the lender doubled its six-month profit to 15.3 billion shillings ($139.6 million) and plans to channel funds it would have spent on an interim dividend on concluding other acquisitions in Rwanda and Tanzania instead. That will add 100 billion shillings to its more than 1 trillion-shilling balance sheet. 

KCB also plans to grow its green financing loan book fivefold in two years from about 75 billion shillings currently, Oigara said.

The bank’s shares fell 3.1% by 2:48 p.m. in London, as investors disappointed about the lack of a dividend sold. - Bella Genga, Bloomberg News

More than 65% of Burundi's population is living in poverty, according to the World Food Programme, 2019. Photo Send A Cow

 

The Manx government has donated more than £1.3m to a charity working in an area of Africa "combatting the effects" of climate change.

The International Development Partnership (IDP) has awarded Send a Cow the funds for projects in Burundi.

Richard Granville, the charity's programme funding manager, said the money would go towards a "vital two-year project" in "hilly, rural Mwaro".

The government commits an annual total of £2.5m to international aid.

Climate change was one of two themes chosen by the IDP for donations for 2021-2023.

'Erratic rainfall'

Chief Minister Howard Quayle said: "The [coronavirus] pandemic has shown us how globally connected we are and I am delighted that the Isle of Man can support this important work."

Mr Granville said Burundi was already "feeling the severe impact of climate change" as 94% of the population "depends on small-scale, rain-fed agriculture".

Domothile Niyonzima, 43, lives in Mwaro Province and said: "The main issue is that we don't have enough food, because we have no manure to fertilise our land."

Unicef estimates that more than 114,000 people in Burundi have been displaced by climate change-related disasters.

Country Director for Send a Cow Burundi Gloria Nimpundu said the charity helped farmers with "water availability and good quality soil" and was having "significant impact".

She said "increasingly erratic and unreliable rainfall patterns" made it hard to "plan harvests and planting seasons".

"In recent years, droughts have ruined crops and flash floods have washed entire crops away.

The Mwaro project would help 5,250 households "to become financially resilient in the face of the climate crisis, by practising climate-smart crop and livestock farming", she added. - BBC

Image via Cointelegraph

 

Akoin, the cryptocurrency project developed by Senegalese-American singer Akon, has achieved success in its initial pilot testing at western Kenya’s Mwale Medical Technology City, or MMTC, preparing for a national rollout in the near future. 

The pilot, which began in November 2020, is expected to pave the way for $5 million worth of transactions per month at MMTC, according to a spokesperson for Mwale Medical Technology City. As Cointelegraph reported, the pilot stage allowed residents to pay and be paid using Akoin and have the transactions converted immediately into cell phone minutes or other forms of exchange.

Full implementation is expected to begin in September, and monthly transactions are projected to surge, possibly reaching $2 billion by 2022. By that time, Akoin will become the only platform for business transactions in the city.

Akoin is a cryptocurrency designed to help entrepreneurs, business owners and social activists transact locally without many of the impediments that inflict emerging markets in Africa. 

For full implementation to be successful, the Akoin project is targeting 5,000 workers within the first six months and 20,000 workers by the end of 2022. MMTC is scheduling a “major launch event for September” that will introduce Akoin for wider acceptance. The spokesperson explained: “A major launch event scheduled for September will include the launch of a new hospital wing in MMTC and the activation of Akoin across 5,000 beds at the Hamptons Hospital and 30,000 transactions per month, utilizing Akoin’s Atomic Swap technology, Merchant Services and Akoin Credit and Debit Cards.”

The spokesperson further explained that, by the end of 2022, Akoin is expected to become the “second most popular payment platform after M-Pesa,” a mobile-phone-based money transfer and micro-financing service popular in Africa and other parts of the developing world.

Mwale Medical Technology City is described as a newly built city encompassing a state-of-the-art medical and technology complex. The pilot testing of Akoin was seen as a stepping stone for the cryptocurrency being adopted by the highly ambitious Akon City project in Senegal. - SAM BOURGI, Cointelegraph

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