| NAIROBI, March 23
NAIROBI, March 23 Kenya began selling its first
mobile-phone-based government bond on Thursday, part of an
ambitious plan to broaden the pool of investors in government
The government is initially making a limited offer of 150
million shillings to test the system before a bigger offer in
June, Finance Minister Henry Rotich said.
Governor Patrick Njoroge said the bond, called M-Akiba,
allows people to invest as little as 3,000 Kenyan shillings
"This is a product that will dramatically improve the
savings culture of our people," he said.
Treasuries in other emerging economies will be watching with
interest. Most would like to broaden their sources of borrowing
beyond local banks and international financial institutions.
Kenya pioneered the use of mobile money in 2007 with M-Pesa,
a money transfer service, by telecoms operator Safaricom
The M-Akiba bond will be offered on M-Pesa and similar
mobile-phone financial services by other firms. Investors will
be able to buy the bond through their phones, where a record of
their holdings will be stored. Coupon payments will also be made
through the phone.
M-Pesa allows users to transfer cash and make payments on
even the most basic mobile phone. In partnership with local
banks, Safaricom has since expanded the service to offer
savings, lending and insurance products.
($1 = 102.7500 Kenyan shillings)
(Writing by Katharine Houreld, editing by Larry King)