Regulation poses a challenge for Africa's banking sector
by Dr Elizabeth Stephens, Head of Credit and Political Risk Advisory, JLT Specialty
Local and international regulatory activities in Africa have increased strongly of late, mainly in response to events triggered by the 2008 financial crisis.
To take one example, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spent nearly US$3 billion between 2008 – 2009, bailing out and recapitalising a number of banks.
Banking sector reform, aimed at improving the stability of banks in Nigeria, led to significant sector consolidation and the reduction in the number of banks from 90 to 25.
Since 2010, the banking sectors in the majority of African nations have been subject to global regulatory frameworks such as Basel I, although these frameworks are in different stages of implementation.
For instance, while the South African banking sector is well on its way to meeting the new Basel III guidelines, banks in Kenya and Nigeria are instead focusing on the Basel II initiatives and Angola is using Basel I.
Universal regulatory standards will be an ongoing priority as banks work toward meeting the regulatory challenges.
Many African banks are reviewing and in some cases already using, alternative risk transfer mechanisms to enhance their ability to comply with regulatory requirements, whilst remaining competitive in a challenging marketplace.
New opportunities have been created for banks located in Sub-Saharan Africa as European banks retreat from funding projects on the continent in the wake of the financial crisis and more stringent global capital rules.
If African banks adopt the strategy of their European counterparts we may see a greater utilisation of the insurance market as a capital management tool that helps to facilitate deal flow.
Such a move would constitute an evolution of an existing relationship between banks and the insurance market.
Most international banks have utilised the Credit and Political Risk Insurance (PRI) market in some shape or form in recent years.
The cross-over between insurers and banks developed as far back as 1990, when Lloyd’s of London agreed to allow banks to be named as Insureds on credit and PRI policies.
The benefits derived by banks from the utilisation of credit and PRI insurance has evolved over time. Banks first used insurance as a credit and country risk mitigant, then the product value evolved into a risk distribution tool and then later, under the implementation of Basel II, the product became a capital management tool.
Whilst Basel II only lists guarantees and credit derivatives as types of unfunded credit risk mitigation techniques, the Basel Committee has stated that credit insurance could be used to mitigate credit risks, provided it fulfils the requirements applicable to guarantees.
As an overarching statement on what is expected from a guarantee to qualify as Credit Risk Mitigation under Basel II/III, the Basel Committee has stated the following:
“Where guarantees or credit derivatives are direct, explicit, irrevocable and unconditional, and supervisors are satisfied that banks fulfil certain minimum operational conditions relating to risk management processes they may allow banks to take account of such credit protection in calculating capital requirements.” (Paragraph 140)
As such, African banks are increasingly facing the choice between significantly reducing their trade finance business or using structured trade credit insurance to remain active in trade-related financing but with reduced levels of exposure.
This is a particularly valuable tool in Nigeria where regulation places restrictions on exposure on a per sector basis; an investment constraint in a territory dominated by the oil sector.
The utilisation of the insurance sector can provide valuable capital relief as comprehensive credit insurance policies will cover up to 90 percent of the payment obligations due from the counterparty to the bank.
Banks are therefore able to obtain capital relief for 90% of the loan by using credit insurance, with the 10 percent uninsured percentage being treated as an unsecured amount.
The insurance market continues to evolve to support banks in their trading activities and is an invaluable alternative risk transfer mechanism for those seeking to secure business opportunities.
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”