Although the number of investors from other East African countries opening trading accounts at Kenya’s Nairobi Stock Exchange (www.nse.co.ke) is still very small, it is growing more consistently in the last 2 years than other categories of investors. According to data to 30 Sept released by Kenya’s Capital Market Authority (www.cma.or.ke), East African individual investors opened 97 securities accounts at Kenya’s Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (www.cdsckenya.com). This compares to 92 accounts opened in the full year 2010 and 79 in 2009.
By comparison Kenyan individual investors only opened 27,669 accounts in the 9 months to September 2011, compared to 120,756 accounts opened in 2010 and 52,836 in 2009. Kenyan equity trading has remained subdued as investors say high interest rates make them choose government debt securities over equities.
One potential reason for the East African interest, according to an article in the East African , is that Ugandans are opening trading accounts at the NSE in anticipation of the IPO of electricity distributor Umeme (www.umeme.co.ug) scheduled for 2012. Umeme is expected to cross-list at the NSE and the Ugandan Securities Exchange (www.use.or.ug). Some investors open multiple accounts ahead of a potentially “hot” initial public offering (IPO) of shares, where they hope to sell their initial allocation quickly and make a quick profit, as this is likely to maximise their share of allocation if the IPO is oversubscribed.
Trading experience shows that cross-listed East African shares such as Centum, Kenya Airways, Jubilee Insurance, trade more on the NSE compared with the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (www.dse.co.tz) and USE. The increased liquidity in Nairobi means that East Africans are better off having a trading account at the NSE. The paper comments that Rwandans, Tanzanians and Ugandans are probably realising this fact and also taking positions ahead of the listing of some of their firms on the NSE by opening more CDS accounts in Nairobi: “Investors will go the extra mile to open and operate, as proxies, CDS accounts in the names of their relatives or friends who know nothing on trading in shares. Expect an influx of Rwandese, Tanzanians and Ugandans at the NSE in 2012.”