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Njoroge battles Kenya’s conflict of interest

In his first 16 months as governor of Kenya’s central bank, Patrick Njoroge has had to work through constant concerns about the health of the country’s economy and financial sector. Now he faces his biggest challenge yet: a piece of financial regulation he believes will deeply hurt Kenyan banks and their consumers.

Patrick Njoroge illustration-600

Illustration: Pete Ellis



On August 24, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s president, sat down in his official residence in Nairobi to sign into law the country’s latest piece of financial regulation – a controversial bill capping interest rates on commercial loans. By his side stood Patrick Njoroge, the country’s central bank governor. Njoroge, who had said the bill would have “overwhelmingly negative consequences on businesses and consumers”, was not smiling.

When asked about that moment on a recent visit to Washington DC, Njoroge struggles to hide his discontent. 

“There are good days and bad days,” he tells Euromoney.

For Njoroge, there have been many bad days since taking office a little over a year ago. He joined the bank at a time when macroeconomic indicators looked particularly troublesome, and spent his early days trying to rectify that situation. Later he placed three scandal-hit banks under receivership (one of them is now being liquidated) and faced near constant scrutiny from a population quick to react to rumours of banks struggling. 

Most recently, Njoroge has had to come to terms with the prospect of implementing the interest rate bill signed in August, even though he had publicly opposed it, arguing it would “inevitably result in even more suffering by the majority of the population”.