The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on the African continent has surpassed 100,000, while the deaths are staggering at more than 10,000, according to data by the John Hopkins University and Africa Center for Disease Control.
These numbers in Africa show a remarkable differentiation between nations. Egypt, Algeria and Morocco in North Africa and the Republic of South Africa have had thousands of infections. In West Africa, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria have comparatively large populations but smaller numbers of infection.
Kenya does not have one of the largest rates of infections or deaths on the continent, although our neighbours have certainly recorded smaller numbers. But in the wake of this latest threat, Kenya should jealously guard its position as a regional hub and an important gateway to this region. Nairobi is considered a global hub of business and enterprise. At the end of 2019, Nairobi was declared one of the nine innovation hubs to watch globally in the coming year by the Findexable Global Fintech Rankings 2020, a report published by research firm Findexable Limited, when it leapt forward in economic growth and financial technology.
Nairobi, called the ‘Silicon Savannah’, has emerged as a thriving tech-ecosystem due to its strength in payments, remittances, banking and lending technologies. These are the trends that seemingly drive investors to Kenya. The factors stand to boost the economy and create more jobs. This is why going forward, the challenges of Corona should not compromise the nation’s standing.
Kenya has risen far above all of its neighbours on the international map in various respects. Last year, more than 2 million tourists visited Kenya, bringing $1.6 billion to the economy. Airlines like Air France and Qatar Airways have increased the frequency of their flights to Nairobi, and the introduction of a direct Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi to New York led to ease of access to the US market. Kenya is a nation open to the world, the more reason we should make personal sacrifices to abide by the guidelines and ensure the coronavirus does not ruin her aspirations and advantages that have come with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s policy directions.
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Quality of life
Even with Covid-19, all is not lost. Once we achieve the Vision 2030 goals of being “a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life by 2030,” we will certainly have benefits to reap, building on the potential of our youth.
Trade agreements signed with major global powers and the recent intention to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement with the US, just before the rise of Covid-19, point to more success stories by the government, which we should build on.
With these achievements come risks. One of those risks is that when there are global stresses like the coronavirus, Kenya will be more susceptible than its neighbours. However, because of our political stability, foreign investment and enterprise, we will stand, fight and win.
Since 2013 there has been a perceptible and consistent decline in unemployment. These demonstrate that we are heading in the right direction. Even if the Covid-19 crisis, which is leading to recessions in many rich nations like Germany continues, we should focus on our impressive gains.
It is imperative to look at the full picture. When the gains of this paradigm-changing attention are placed against the slightly higher rates of infection from Covid-19 in the immediate region, it is clear that we need to keep to our current policy of engaging with the outside world vibrant.
The world has a role to play in raising the standards of living in Kenya and without it, we might just be in the situation some of our neighbours find themselves.
While the Covid-19 pandemic is temporary, what must become permanent is our global outreach.
-The writer is a development communications expert