COVID-19: The interruption of customs

By Mbuthia Mwaniki | Wednesday, Jun 3rd 2020 at 13:12
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At least once in every generation, the circle of custom is interrupted. Once this happens, humanity realigns to change, and, in a while, a new circle of customs is created. Before the new circle is formed, there is a brief moment of confusion where a myriad of opportunities arises. Those who have the capacity to take advantage of the confusion and, in fact, do end up at the top of the food chain in the new circle. I know all that almost sounds like David Attenborough, so I’ll now come down to facts; after the world wars came advancements in technology. Though originally aimed at improving chances at the war industries such as mass vehicle manufacture was developed, telecommunication was mainstreamed has advanced over the years, and so have other sectors that have now become market leaders and the most profitable industries.

From the look of things here, the retail food landscape has evolved the most in the wake of Covid-19. From the introduction of food delivery options amongst most restaurants to the hundreds of vendors selling cereals, fruits and vegetables by the roadsides in the boots of their vehicles. Rural-urban migration reduced Kenya’s food production and increased its (food) demand, now with so many willing to vend and as much willing to buy, the result is an increase in awareness and access increasing the demand for various foods, in turn, production has to increase, when it does that shall translate to demand more labour in the farm and in the delivery chain from loaders to drivers hence job creation.

Apart from the food industry, there have been changes in almost all other sectors. Working from home, a phenomenon that was frowned upon earlier as a reserve for ‘mummies’ has now been forced upon most, and it works. Amounts and time that were earlier spent on transport can now be rechannelled. With proper internet connections, most people do not need to be in an office at all. This gives a chance for investment in access to internet infrastructure. I have seen ISPs use smaller ‘retail’ companies to increase access. An opportunity that should be tapped. Cybercafes have a chance at life again; they could offer remote printing and delivery since most people do not have printers at home.

Beyond the sickness and loss of lives that fortunately for most is only on the news, there is a chance to grow our economy probably even faster than was projected before the virus. Look at it this way; with reduced requirements for one to be in an office, you have time (that was previously used on travel or just idling at the office waiting for 5:00 pm) to venture into something else like say a kitchen garden. From that an opportunity to sell what you grow. Any other side job could also do.

 Now that one can spend more time with family, they are emotionally healthier hence the ability to work better. With less travel, better sanitation coupled with minimal interaction, chances of getting sick are reduced; this applies to other diseases, to hence a healthier nation. Somehow the opportunities for most out way the negatives in this one.

MBUTHIA MWANIKI,

Advocate of the High Court of Kenya,

Mbuthia@amassociates.co.ke

 

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