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Regional debt to dominate EA Investment conference  

Worrying regional debt levels and alternatives sources of finance to fund mega projects in East Africa will take centre stage at the Chartered Financial Analysts (CFA) East Africa Investment conference next month in Nairobi.

The conference is scheduled to take place on April 5, 2018 at Saravo Stanley hotel. At the recently concluded EAC summit in Kampala, it was revealed that the region needed $78 billion to fund mega infrastructure projects but the unanswered question was source of money.

Mariam Nansubuga CFA East Africa Society vice president (c)  and other members of the society addressing journalists in Kampala

Mariam Nansubuga, CFA East Africa society vice president, told reporters in Kampala that the conference would raise awareness about opportunities for investment in the continent and how governments can source for the needed money.

CFA is a global association of investment professionals with over 124,000 members in 144 countries. There are 877 candidates studying the CFA programme in East Africa, with Kenya having the highest number. Alan N Lwetabe, a CFA member, said the industry draws professionals from industries such as the pension sector, commercial banking and investment institutions among others.

Sovereign debt is particularly a topical issue in the region as member states look over their shoulders over piling public debt. There have been fears that actually some countries that are borrowing heavily amidst non-expanding revenues and might not be able to meet their debt obligations.

Uganda’s public debt stands at $11bn – about 38% of the country’s GDP. Kenya’s debt stands at about $40bn – accounting to about 40% of her GDP. While it is okay to borrow, raking-up too much debt is a sign of difficulty and countries must devise other means of financing their projects.

Nansubuga said countries can look up to public private partnerships (PPPs), a topical issue that will be tackled at the conference. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned both Uganda and Kenya over the debt levels, saying it is tilting to dangerous zones.

“For many years, these conferences have happened outside the continent. We’re doing this in Africa to see that these professionals come into the continent,” said Nansubuga. “We are also getting a perspective from outside and must understand how we’re being perceived.”

“There is a practitioner-oriented educational conference focussed on East African economies and the capital markets as well as global issues relevant to investors worldwide,” said CFA East Africa Society statement.

The conference, according to Suzan Khainza, an accounts and financial adviser, is an opportunity to meet and discuss global developments in shaping the industry. CFA members work in insurance companies, asset managers, Kenya stockbrokers, and private equity firms.

On the issue of finance and technology (fintech), it is widely accepted that technology is taking over the way financial services are being delivered to the final consumer. And this has implications for the industry, including job losses but also increasing innovations. The topic will be at the centre of the conference.

Dr George Spentzos, the CFA global leader will be the main speaker. He previously served as director at LNG Capital and non-executive director at NOW bank.

amwesigwa@observer.ug

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