Former Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Chair Nelson Havi has been named as the new Chairman of the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA). His appointment was gazetted on Friday, February 10. The authority is the regulator for pension funds and retirement benefit schemes in Kenya.
Havi unsuccessfully contested for the Westlands parliamentary seat on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket in the 2022 elections. He is one of several allies of President William Ruto who have landed plum appointments in his administration.
RBA’s mandate includes regulating and supervising the establishment and management of
retirement benefits schemes, and protecting the interests of members and sponsors of retirement benefits sector. Havi will replace Abdirahin Haithar Abdi who was appointed RBA board chairman by President Uhuru Kenyatta in July 2022.
Notably, pension schemes have a key role to play in Ruto’s affordable housing project among other capital-intensive government programs. The President in November 2022 unveiled the Sanduku Initiative, a program roping in the pensions industry, insurance firms, saccos, cooperatives and other finance institutions to support the government’s plan.
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The plan entails growing investment over the next five years to KSh1 trillion for affordable housing as well as oher major infrastructure initiatives. A massive Ksh500 billion investment is envisioned for the first year, with the rest of the amount to be distributed over the remaining four years.
The State has also confirmed plans to establish a real estate investment trust (REIT), one of the pre-conditions set by pension funds to support the program. The pension funds wanted the REIT to provide a firm legal basis for the program.
“REITs have been identified by the national government as a critical avenue to ramp up the rollout of affordable housing units through a public and private sector partnership. Evidently, REITs have the potential to facilitate access to capital through the capital markets to meet the growing demand for purpose-built real estate solutions including for those at the bottom of the economic pyramid,” CMA chief executive officer Wyckliffe Shamiah stated on February 9, 2023.
Besides affordable housing, other projects identified to benefit from the initiative include the Railway City Development, Nairobi International Financial Centre and Kenani Leather Park.
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