The coronavirus, which is still on the rampage, has upended the global economy. Economists have warned that we are already staring at a global economic recession, largely due to the measures taken by governments to stop the spread of the virus.
The measures have, among other things, left manufacturing sectors almost paralysed and disrupted supply chains. Many workers have been rendered jobless, while others are now underemployed, greatly undermining their buying power.
That’s why the second priority, after saving lives, for every country going through this nightmare is the economy. It is for this reason that President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced a Sh53.7 billion economic stimulus programme.
His intention, he said, is to keep the economic engine revving by ensuring that agriculture and manufacturing sectors, among other critical pillars of the country, are not grounded by the virus. This way thousands of people will keep their jobs and supplies of essential commodities will remain steady. Hopefully, the president’s stimulus package will have put Kenya on the recovery path by the time he eases Covid-19 measures as he has hinted he might do soon.
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But even as we strive to put Kenya back on track and rebuild, we must put Kenyans first. One of the biggest lessons for countries from this pandemic is that you cannot rely on your neighbours to help you put out a fire in your house when theirs is also ablaze.
That's why countries that had face masks and ventilators clung onto them even when their neighbours sorely needed them. Some countries have also suffered food shortages because supply chains have been broken.
As a result, countries will gradually start shedding their reliance on others for essential goods. Kenya should not be left behind. We must activate our production lines and open new ones to ensure that the bulk of goods that we consume are produced locally. This way, more Kenyans will get jobs, and the import of raw materials will be minimised, thus earning the country maximum returns.
Secondly, we must aggressively pursue the elusive food security dream. All loopholes that have hampered this ambition before must be sealed so that the country can produce enough food not only for its people, but also for export.
Thirdly, we should start giving Kenyan companies first priority when it comes to lucrative contracts. As you might have noticed, it is the Kenyan companies that stand with us during times of crisis like this one.
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