How to Invest in Kenyan Stock Market

Kenya is one of the fastest growing African markets in terms of economy, investment, real estate, banking, manufacturing and of course stock exchange. The purpose of this article to acquaint its readers with the Kenyan stock markets, regulations that govern Nairobi stock exchange and how you can invest in this market.

Why invest in Nairobi Stock Exchange?

Past few years have seen a rapid growth in African economy and Kenya has remained one of the pioneers in bringing this widespread economic change in the region. An industrialized national vision by the government and rapidly commercializing economy is driving foreign investment and international companies to land on these financially fertile lands.

The times when most African countries were home to civil war, famine and corrupt governments are gradually fading away. Compared to past times, peaceful elections and transition of power is clear evidence that Kenyan government and people crave peace, prosperity and rapid economic growth.

In addition to this, Kenyan government envisions the country as highly industrialized by the year 2020, making a smooth way for voracious international conglomerates to invest in commercial banking, manufacturing, finishing goods and improving exports.

Labor is cheap, raw materials and natural resources are abundant, giving unmatched profit generation capacity to industries and investment corporations. According to several surveys, companies are reported to show consistent double-digit profit ratio in the coming years.

Most of all, with the government regulations in huge favor of investing companies, easy tax and banking laws, low interest rates and stable inflation rates, all benefit an investor of any scale.

The best part about Nairobi Stock Exchange is that it has improved its performance rapidly over the past few years and continues to grow. Here is the latest snapshot of the Nairobi stock exchange.

Where to Start?

The first step is to find the right local brokerage firm, which will make transactions on your behalf. It will help you open a Central Depository System account in Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (CDSC) for the investor. CDS is an online system that electronically facilitates transactions of shares across the Nairobi stock exchange.

The list of all the market participants in the stock market is given on the official website. Only an authorized member of the central depository and settlement corporation can, called a CDA or central depository agent can assist you in opening your account. All the forms and documentation an investor needs are available online on their websites.

However, typically an investor needs recent photographs, certified copies of passport or driving license and tax registration certificate. In case an investor is a company, it would be required to submit a certificate of registration. Usually the account is opened in one day once the documents are complete.

As a foreign investor, you will have to talk to your brokerage firm of the ways they can accommodate your investments. Most of the companies offer both, email and telephonic communication to facilitate the buying and selling. Still, it depends on how you as an investor and your broker come to an agreement and arrangements can be made according to that.

When you open an account, you get a CDS account number and secret question and answer to identify you whenever you are trading in stocks in the NSE.

Any investor, whether local or international is allowed to open multiple accounts and trade in them separately. However, you can only open one account with one agent.

You can learn more about Central Depository and Settlement Corporation here.

What after you have opened an account in the Central Depository System?

One thing to remember here is that the trader account and dividend account go separately. Therefore, it is better to have a local bank account where your dividends go instead of getting them wire transferred every time. After you have opened a trader account with the CDSC, you can wire transfer your investment in your account and begin trading right away.

Generally, agent companies do not have a lower or upper limit of the number of shares an investor may buy or sell. The limitation to have a certain minimum balance to be able to trade is also not there. However, the rate of commission varies between two amounts. If a trader is trading below the amount of KES100,000, the rate of commission is 2.1%, which lowers to 1.85% if done above this amount.

How secure is your investment in the Nairobi Stock Exchange.

As long as you are investing and trading shares of safe companies, your investment remains safe. Taking a close look at other African stock markets, and trends in the Nairobi Stock Exchange, the safest places to invest are

Insurance companies

Kenya is home to several insurance companies and with the investment coming in from all parts of the world, insurance companies are destined to penetrate more in the Kenyan soil, much deeper and profitable.

Increasing middle class spectrum and gradual increase in banking and investment loans is making insurance companies to grow at a steady pace.

Investment firms

Kenyan government is hugely favoring investment companies to invest more and grow and this trend is to continue over the next one and half decade. Therefore, whether you are planning to invest short term or long term, your investment is in much safer hands.

Banking sector

Compared to the investment sector, the banking sector is not growing at the pace it was expected to grow at. Still, past few years have seen a steady growth in the commercial and personal banking. Kenyan commercial bank and national bank of Kenya have been gainers in the past and are expected continue to stay on the same path.

Telecommunication and IT

As the Kenyan economy grows, IT and telecom are growing at a very quick pace. There is a lot of international investment coming in the telecom sector. As of 2012 Kenya was home to 13.8 million internet users standing 35th in the world providing internet connectivity to 32.1% of the population and boasts a staggering figure of 30.7 million mobile lines standing 33rd in the world. As far as investing in shares in concerned, Nairobi Stock Exchange is a safe place to invest in this sector.

Other areas that are gradually growing and are expected to keep growing in the coming years are cement, mining companies and just close to them stands agriculture.