The Man Behind Kenya’s Financial Revolution Takes A Bow

The Man Behind Kenya’s Financial Revolution Takes A Bow
Prof Njuguna Ndung

AFRICANGLOBE – “No other central bank governor has done as much for financial inclusion in Africa,” Razia Khan, the head of Africa Research at Standard Chartered Plc. was quoted as saying about Governor of Kenya’s central bank (CBK), Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, who bows out today after eight years in charge of East Africa’s largest financial sector.

The professor of economics is leaving office with his head held high and a legacy of financial services regulation and monetary policy that has been described as largely successful. But he had to endure some hard times, sometimes floundering with a series of scandals hitting the Kenyan financial sector.

However, Ndung’u’s tenure will largely be remembered largely for the successes recorded in improving financial inclusion in Kenya, mobile money usage and more importantly, the stability of the banking sector. Kenya has now become a world leader for mobile money and its banks are becoming more competitive on the continent; they are even expanding throughout the East African region. The CBK governor facilitated the roll out of the country’s first mobile money transfer service M-Pesa despite protests from banks.

According to her, Ndung’u showed how boundless an open and innovative approach to financial sector regulation could be. “His record hasn’t only been a relative success for Kenya; it is the standout African example of more rapid financial inclusion, too.”

The outgoing governor will also be remembered for boosting CBK’s transparency. The bank now publishes quality and detailed statistics on various aspects of the economy.

Although he faced corruption charges as CBK governor, Robert Bunyi, an analyst at Mavuno Capital said it had almost become impossible for anyone who have served in such capacity to leave office without such accusations. “It is getting to a point where it is impossible to take up a major public appointmen and not face allegations of corruption – false or not,” Mr Bunyi told reporters.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to hand-pick the next governor, using the invoke the CBK Act, which came into force in 1966. The act empowers him to appoint the chairman, governor, two deputy governors and eight other non-executive directors for the apex bank. However, a new Bill that would have changed this and opened the appointment to a competitive process is yet to be approved by the Cabinet.