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The year that was: It was not all doom and gloom

By Peter Theuri | Dec 14th 2021 | 2 min read
By Peter Theuri | December 14th 2021

Customers walking to Gikomba market leap over sewage along Kinyanjui street in the market on November 30, 2021. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

By all accounts, the last two years have been financially draining for many Kenyans and the economy in general.

The economy contracted by 0.3 per cent last year to Sh8.71 trillion from Sh8.74 trillion in 2019.

Many companies laid off their workers amid losses, while the more resilient ones effected brutal pay cuts or had their employees work in shifts.

Global supply chains snapped as governments around the world introduced a raft of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

But the pandemic provided a silver lining for some individuals and businesses.

New lines of business such as the manufacture and sale of face masks and hand sanitisers emerged, creating opportunities for individuals put out of work by the pandemic. 

Online gigs such as teaching also gained prominence at the height of the pandemic as did food delivery services. And in the US, as sales shifted online and consumers benefitted from stimulus cheques, e-commerce giant Amazon reported $108.5 billion (Sh12.1 trillion) in sales in the first three months of this year, a 44 per cent increase from a year earlier.

Amazon also posted $8.1 billion (Sh910.6 billion) in profit, an increase of 220 per cent from the same period last year.

Locally, Safaricom recorded Sh37 billion net profit in the first six months to September 2021.

The spike in profitability was boosted by Covid-19 relief measures, including waiving mobile money fees on transactions below Sh1,000. “M-Pesa recorded a strong performance, growing 45.8 per cent year-on-year following the return to charging beginning January 2021,” said Safaricom Chief Executive Peter Ndegwa during the release of the telco’s half-year results.

And following the easing of Covid-19 containment measures a few months ago, the economy has been on the mend, with several sectors showing recovery. 

One such sector is tourism, which bore the brunt of the travel restrictions internationally and locally. James Njaaga, the CEO of Sensational Adventures, said while the sector is still not yet out of the woods, the easing of travel restrictions has boosted hopes of complete recovery with international tourists coming back. 

“It is a positive thing that they are back,” said Mr Njaaga.

Toyota Kenya Sales, Marketing and Logistics General Manager Andrew Omolo said many people may have “overdramatised” the effects of the pandemic.

Covid 19 Time Series


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