Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dividends Payments across East Africa

Having bought shares in recent East African IPO's (Uganda: Stanbic Bank and Rwanda: Bralirwa Brewers), there appears to be some progress in addressing one of long standing problems of buying such shares - and this is the bank charges associated with receiving and having to process dividend cheques that are paid in currencies that are fractionally weaker than the Kenya shilling

With Stanbic, the Kenyan arm of the African bank has shown little interest in facilitating this even though a significant number of Stanbic Uganda’s 25,000 shareholders are Kenyan. In fact, the staff pension funds of Kenya Airways and Central Bank are listed among the top 10 shareholders of the bank.

At Bralirwa, the dividends are issued by KCB Rwanda and via a late message, KCB Kenya state they are paying/cashing the cheques up to RWF50K (~Kshs 8,000) across the counter. ( If higher the cheques will be sent for to Rwanda).

While the next step should be for East Africans to receive cross-border dividend payments by mobile money such as mpesa dividends this is only available to Kenyan shareholders. For now, the facilitation of affordable across-the-counter dividends, and other cross border trade & investment payment options is something that banks, not just KCB, with a regional footprint like Equity, Stanbic, Diamond Trust, and NIC should also take up.

EDIT: New communications from the banks show new options for Kenyans who have invested shares across East Africa as follows:

Bralirwa: Any cheques of less than RWF 50,000 (~Kshs 7,750) can be cashed at the counter of any KCB Kenya branch at a fee of RWF 200 (Kshs 31) on production of an ID or a passport

Stanbic Uganda: no certificates will be issued for the 1:1 bonus, and no physical annual reports will be mailed. But shareholders can now elect to receive dividends by electronic funds transfer, or mobile money (airtel money or m-pesa) after confirming their details at Comprite (Uganda) Registrars whose Nairobi office is at Marakwet House, Elgeyo Marakwet Road.

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