Serrari Group

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Kenya’s long-term issuer ratings to Caa1 from B3, with a continued negative outlook. This decision reflects concerns over the government’s fiscal strategy and its implications for debt sustainability.

The downgrade underscores Kenya’s reduced ability to implement revenue-driven fiscal consolidation, critical for improving debt affordability. Moody’s pointed out the government’s recent shift away from planned tax increases in favor of expenditure cuts, a move expected to prolong fiscal deficits and heighten liquidity risks amid ongoing social tensions.

“The decision to abandon planned tax reforms significantly alters our fiscal outlook,” noted a Moody’s analyst. “This change is likely to slow the pace of fiscal consolidation, diverging from our previous expectations.”

Moody’s projects a fiscal deficit averaging 4.4% of GDP for fiscal 2025 and 2026, higher than earlier estimates, indicating a prolonged period of weak debt affordability. The cancellation of tax increases, originally aimed at generating KES346 billion, combined with KES177 billion in spending cuts, is projected to constrain revenue growth and maintain a stagnant revenue-to-GDP ratio around 17%.

This scenario poses challenges for servicing debt obligations and accessing external financing, particularly from multilateral creditors. The downgrade also impacts Kenya’s local and foreign currency ceilings, reflecting institutional weaknesses and policy uncertainties amid moderate political risks.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Considerations

Kenya’s credit profile is additionally influenced by ESG factors, with significant exposure to social risks such as poverty and health issues, alongside governance weaknesses and environmental vulnerabilities.

Future Outlook

Given the negative outlook, Moody’s indicates that an upgrade is unlikely in the near term. A return to a stable outlook would hinge on the government’s ability to enact effective fiscal consolidation measures and restore confidence in its financial management.

Conversely, further deterioration in fiscal metrics or challenges in securing affordable external financing could lead to additional downgrades, highlighting the precarious nature of Kenya’s current economic outlook.

Moody’s will continue to closely monitor Kenya’s fiscal trajectory, assessing developments that could impact its credit rating and economic stability.

Photo source: Google

By: Montel Kamau

Serrari Financial Analyst

9th July, 2024

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