The Business Daily on 2nd February reported that 14 million Kenyans had been blacklisted by Credit Reference Bureaus (CRBs) for defaulting on loan payments. The Business Daily article – titled “Borrowers Blacklisted By CRB Hit 14 million” – was based on data compiled by Metropol, one of the authorized CRBs in Kenya.
A fact-check by BusinessToday has revealed that the 14 million figure is the number of accounts blacklisted and NOT the individual borrowers as reported. BT reached out to Metropol CEO, Mr Sam Omukoko, who clarified that the 14 million, in fact, referred to the number of accounts that were in default and had thus been listed by the CRB.
He said the number of individuals blacklisted is only about 3 million, explaining that most of the borrowers have multiple accounts with various credit providers. “On average Kenyan borrowers we have in our database have five accounts,” Mr Omukoko said. “There are a few who have over 10 spread across the various fintech lenders.”
Data by Metropol shows that the number of loans accounts in arrears for more than 90 days jumped to 14,035,718 by January this year, up from 9,673,258 in August 2020, a 45% increase, after the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) lifted a three-month moratorium.
High borrowing rate has been fueled by a proliferation of digital lenders offering unsecured loans. Omukoko said people are struggling with repayment including those who had restructured their loans. He, however, noted that this is a temporary situation as they will start repaying when the economy begins to recover.
The CBK gave a six-month suspension of CRB listings in April as part of the measures to cushion borrowers against the adverse economic effects of Covid-19 pandemic. The moratorium lapsed in October, and lenders resumed listing defaulters on CRBs.
The headline, Borrowers Blacklisted By CRB Hit 14 million by Business Daily, is therefore misleading.
[ This story was produced by Business Today in partnership with Code for Africa’s iLAB data journalism programme, with support from Deutsche Welle Akademie ]
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