What is the NIFC?

The Nairobi International Financial Centre is a new business environment, established to make it easier and more attractive to invest and conduct financial services and related activities in and from Kenya. The objective is to develop a more stable, efficient and globally competitive financial services sector that encourages both domestic and foreign investment, generates greater savings and contributes to the overall economic growth of the country.  It is a flagship initiative under the economic pillar of Kenya’s strategic development blueprint Vision 2030.

The NIFC is strategically designed to prioritise attracting finance and investment in key areas of development, thus improving Kenya’s competitiveness and supporting the reforms needed to move Kenya from a frontier market to an emerging market. This will attract more companies to Kenya, creating jobs and simultaneously increasing investments in local businesses, which will help companies raise new capital and grow, thereby employing more Kenyans.

How will the NIFC achieve this objective?

  1. By creating a streamlined and efficient operating framework, including a one stop shop (for incorporation and facilitation of doing business) and having bespoke operational rules.
  2. By offering incentives aimed at supporting both local and international firms. For example, quick immigration turnaround, predictable tax rates for specific financial services.
  3. By making improvements to the overall legal and regulatory ecosystem for financial services and as a business centre.
  4. The NIFC will offer a more predictable business environment, with a stable tax and operating framework designed to attract long term investments. The Authority will collaborate closely with key stakeholders to develop the appropriate framework and incentives.
  5. The NIFC will also focus on improving the framework for dispute resolution for financial sector disputes, including the establishment of a ‘fast-stream’ within the courts to adjudicate financial services disputes, as is done in other global centres, in addition to promoting alternative dispute resolution.
  6. Additionally, the NIFC Steering Council chaired by the President provides a critical mechanism to resolve cross-sectoral challenges facing the financial sector and investors, thereby increasing the chances of those challenges being addressed and the economy benefitting.

How do you become an NIFC firm?

Firms considering conducting business through the NIFC must apply for certification by the NIFC Authority. The NIFC Authority will provide a checklist of the required documentation and upon receipt will review and process all applications. Certification is open to both domestic and international firms as long as they meet the requirements. Firms proposing to conduct regulated financial activities such as banking or insurance will be required to follow the normal licensing and regulatory procedures.

What is the relationship between existing financial regulators and NIFC Authority?

The NIFC Authority does not carry out any regulatory oversight over firms that are regulated by a financial regulator, so there is no overlap, although the NIFC Authority will work closely with the regulators to ensure that the NIFC operating framework remains effective. Firms that are not regulated, however, will be subject to NIFC minimum standards as set out in the published NIFC Rules and Regulations.

What types of firms and activities is the NIFC targeting?

The NIFC will focus on attracting enterprises that contribute to growing the economy as opposed to those activities that are already well provided for in the current environment. It will concentrate on attracting global businesses that provide large pools of capital, drive innovation and are committed to sustainable growth.

The types of investments and services that are required to achieve these goals include financial institutions, asset managers, insurance companies, private equity, venture capital and investment firms, as well as financial services focused on fintech, green finance and digital finance. Additionally, professional services that are critical to a modern financial system such as actuarial, trust and custody services will also be needed.

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