British insurer Prudential Plc picks Nairobi for its Africa headquarters

KENYA – British multinational insurance company Prudential Plc will set up its Africa headquarters in Nairobi after signalling its intention to join the Nairobi International Financial Centre (NIFC) as one of its anchor clients.

Kenya has been working since 2014 to establish the centre (NIFC), which aims to become a gateway for capital flowing in and out of Africa and to compete with established financial centres like Mauritius.

In an interview with Business Daily, NIFC acting chief executive Oscar Njuguna said that Prudential wants to grow its regional business aggressively, having established operations in eight African jurisdictions.

Prudential submitted a letter of intent to join the NIFC, becoming the first firm to show concrete interest in joining the nascent financial centre which has only recently been fully operationalised.

“Prudential are in the process of setting up their African headquarters in Nairobi and the NIFC offering is attractive to them as they do cross-border activities, given that they will benefit from some of the incentives we are offering, such as fast-tracking work permits for key executives,” said Mr Njuguna.

The NIFC also inked a memorandum of understanding with the TheCityUK, an industry-led body representing UK-based financial and related professional services.

“Deepening the financial sector across the continent is key to building and driving economic resilience,” Shriti Vadera, who chairs the board of Prudential, said in a joint statement with the NIFC.

This partnership is expected to provide access to the members of the lobby to gauge their appetite to invest in Kenya and the region through the NIFC.

“Through collaboration with partners like TheCityUK, the NIFC will attract increased investment and financing into the country, which will not only contribute to the wider efforts to drive economic growth following the pandemic, but it will also support the achievement of our wider economic goals under Kenya’s Vision 2030 roadmap,” said Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.

“Deepening the financial sector across the continent is key to building and driving economic resilience”

Shriti Vadera – Chair of Board, Prudential

The lobby also includes the London Stock exchange, which has previously also agreed to an MoU with the Kenya government for cross-listing of energy firms in London and Nairobi.

Kenya is hoping to attract firms to operate within the financial centre by offering a raft of incentives which include tax rebates, faster processing of regulatory applications and faster processing of work permits for international staff.

It is then expected that these businesses will bring capital flows into Kenya, create high-quality jobs for locals and provide skills transfers in the long term.

The NIFC aims to raise more than US$2 billion in targeted investments by 2030, the centre said in a statement, without giving a value for the Prudential deal.

As well as serving as a gateway to Africa for investors, the centre also aims to deepen the local financial and capital markets.

Kenya’s capital markets are relatively developed, but 75% of all business financing in the economy was from banks, the finance ministry has said in the past, adding that this situation was not ideal.

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