Private sector asks President Uhuru to re-open economy

Kenyans rendered jobless by the coronavirus pandemic sell different foodstuff along the Northern Bypass Road in Nairobi on May 18. Good policy advice could help the country mitigate the effects of economic downturns. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry(KNCCI), the umbrella body for the private sector is asking president Uhuru Kenyatta to consider gradually re-opening the economy which has been crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The move comes almost two months after President Kenyatta imposed a ban on movement in and out of Nairobi, a key economic hub in East Africa. The days that followed showed a country struggling economically and marred with social-economic challenges faced by the thousands of Nairobi residents who were left jobless. 

“We hold the view that safety remains a priority and also appreciate the fact that life has to go on; people to have an opportunity to have a daily meal income and at the very least be facilitated to meet basic daily necessities,” read the statement by KNCCI.

Even though the ban of movement in and out of Nairobi’s attempted to bar people from streaming into the capital, movement within the city has been as usual even though the government gave directives that people should try to stay at home. For this reason, the attempt of containing the spread of Covid-19 and flattening the curve has been a futile effort even as the country records 127 new cases as of May 29.

The private sector hopes to salvage the economic sector even as the entire fabric of our society continue capsizing in the brutal storm of Covid-19. According to KNCCI, the economy should be opened to be able to serve 83.6 per cent of Kenyans employed in the informal sector and who risk suffering from hunger if nothing is done. 

“The curfew and cessation of movement rules are temporary stop-gap measures to address the situation. We should now be alive to the fact that what the new normal should be and abide by all the health guidelines and protocols advised by the government,” read the statement.

The private sector has also appealed to the president to not only lift the ban on movement out of counties like Mombasa, Kwale and Nairobi but also the curfew time from 7pm to 5 am.

“If total lifting of the curfew and ban on movement is not tenable, we passionately appeal to his Excellency to extend the curfew hours from 7pm to 10pm,” read the statement. 

The economic predicament that is being experienced all over the world comes at a time when President John Pombe Magufuli has remained adamant in ensuring that the economy of Tanzania does not suffer at the hands of the pandemic. Magufuli has maintained business as usual without putting in place the extreme measures of lockdowns for his people.

Kenya seats at a table behind other countries such as the United States, Germany and Italy which have recently started to partially reopen their economy after several weeks under lockdown.

If the number of people racing out to the Nairobi central business district every day is everything to go by, the coronavirus won’t stop individuals from finding their daily wages.

Covid 19 Time Series