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State of the Nation Address: How Kenya weathered Covid-19 storm

NATIONAL
By Jael Mboga | November 30th 2021

President Uhuru Kenyatta.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has presented his annual State of the Nation Address painting a picture of hope, resilience and progress in the face of adversity.

Basing the speech on the economy, social structure and democracy, the president said interventions set in place to beat the Covid-19 pandemic helped to reinforce the resilience of the economy while cushioning millions of households against the harsh effects.

From the National Assembly, the president said while most economies in the world shrunk, Kenya's grew at 0.3 per cent during the 2020 period despite the Covid challenge.

Although the positive growth was minimal, he said the second quarter of 2021 registered the most impressive growth ever recorded in Kenya's real GDP.

The impact of Covid-19 on the economy was 14 times lesser than that on the global economy because of the fiscal stimuli, Uhuru said.

During the second quarter of 2021 real GDP recorded a 10.1 per cent growth, the highest ever recorded in one quarter in Kenya's history.

It was also the first time Kenya had hit a double-digit growth number. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta at Parliament Buildings ahead of the State of the Nation Address. [David Njaaga, Standard]

The last time Kenya got close to this kind of growth was in 2010 during the grand coalition government when the economy hit an 8.4 per cent growth rate.

Speaking during his second-last State of the Nation Address  Uhurusaid that regardless of the crisis, hard choices were made to create resilience and "build back better".

He cited the Revital Healthcare (EPZ) operating in Kilifi, which he said became Africa's largest producer and exporter of Covid vaccine syringes during the Covid period. This meant it was supplying one out of every 10  such syringes globally. 

In 2020 alone, Revital exported 70 million syringes to over 20 countries globally. The company currently has the capacity to produce 300 million Covid vaccine syringes every year, said the president.

On the economy, he said the Central Bank of Kenya was at an advanced stage of revising the Sh1 million threshold for cash deposits and withdrawals in the bank.

This, Uhuru said, would ease transactions for SMEs and help the economy respond to Covid shocks.

Uhuru, also called for peace, saying personal ambitions should be put aside for the good of Kenyans.  

Present during the speech were Deputy President William Ruto, ODM leader Raila Odinga and Chief Justice Martha Koome.

According to the Constitution, once every year, the President must report, in an address to the nation, all the measures taken and the progress achieved in the realisation of the national values.

This was Uhuru's eighth State of the Nation address since his assumption of office as the fourth president.

The president admitted that decisions around Covid were resisted.

"After much reflection, we opted for the public health argument over the economic argument... you can always revive an ailing economy, but we cannot bring to life those who die from Covid."

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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