Auctions in Kenya are becoming a more regular feature of daily life as many struggle to hang on to their assets amid a severe drought earlier this year, a slowdown in bank lending, and a prolonged period of political uncertainty. Ciara Lee reports.
Gathering dust - these cars are waiting to be sold at auction. There is a glut of repossessed vehicles in Kenya - numbers at this auctioneers alone have doubled to 1500 in the past year. A severe drought, a bank lending slowdown and prolonged political uncertainty, all leading to a rise in struggling borrowers. And a surge in repossessions by newly aggressive lenders in the east African powerhouse. Leakey's Auctioneers is holding 10 auctions a month, up from around four a year ago. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEAKEY'S AUCTIONEERS GENERAL MANAGER, GEORGE MUIRURI, SAYING: "We have seen an upsurge of attachments and this is mainly because of the economic factors and the economy of this country is a bit slow and therefore people are not able to meet their financial obligations." Bank credit, which had been easily available, has dried up after the government capped commercial lending rates last year. That's left many lenders unable to refinance seized assets. Kenya's free market credentials and strong relations with Western nations has made it the richest economy in East Africa And it's a favored regional headquarters for global firms like Google, IBM and General Electric. But growth slowed to five percent in the second quarter as a prolonged election season took its toll. The result of the vote was annulled and a re-election ordered for Oct. 26th - although even that is in doubt now. Memories also still fresh of the weeks of post-election violence that followed the disputed 2007 presidential poll. Around 1,200 people were killed prompting the economy to nose-dive.