The coronavirus disease threatens to snuff the life out of thousands of livelihoods by wiping out close to half a trillion shillings in economic output. And for every month that these businesses’ doors remain shut, the country is losing close to Sh42 billion in revenue, which feeds into the pockets of Kenyans and into government coffers. Thousands of workers have been sent on unpaid leave, setting them off towards an uncertain future with the pandemic showing no signs of abating. And the economy is already feeling the ripples of depressed business. Nairobi and other major urban areas are turning into ghost towns as hotel doors shut. Kenyans have reduced their visits to barbers, hairdressers and dentists, and planes have been grounded. The cheer that characterised Nairobi’s nightlife has been silenced by a dusk-to-dawn curfew, driving the final nail into the coffins of entertainment spots after directives on social distancing were issued. Border restrictions
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Businesses that connect Kenya to the outside world were the first to be hit by the lockdown, as border restrictions and quarantines became the norm following the country’s first confirmed Covid-19 case on March 13. And as investors around the world remain jittery about the effects of the coronavirus disease that first reared its head last year in China, the flow of foreign investments into Kenya – valued at around Sh425 billion by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) – will be curtailed. As it is, most of this money comes from countries that have been devastated by the pandemic. Investors from the UK sent in Sh135 billion in 2018, followed by those from the USA (Sh41.8 billion) and France (Sh15.1 billion). Financial and insurance activities, which receive close to 40 per cent of this cash, will be the hardest hit should this flow of dollars be disrupted for long. Other potential losers include manufacturing (19 per cent), wholesale and trade (15.5 per cent) and information and communication (7.4 per cent). Export earnings – from flowers, fresh produce, tea and coffee – have also reduced sharply, forcing some firms to significantly slash their payroll, while others have closed indefinitely. More than 100 countries have restricted travel as they try to contain the spread of Covid-19. Kenya Airways (KQ) has also ground all its aeroplanes in compliance with the government’s decision to […]