Covid-19 has come hitting hard at different economic sectors of countries globally. In response to this pandemic, assesing the global impacts of COVID-19 in Kenya and the socio-economic effects on individual aspects of the world economy is my focus today.
In order to understand the effect of COVID-19 on individual aspects of the Kenyan economy, I will draw examples from primary sectors which include industries involved in the extraction of raw materials, secondary sectors involved in the production of finished products, and tertiary sectors including all service provision industries.
The resilience of the agricultural sector has been tested by the COVID-19 outbreak. A fall in demand for farm products from hotels and restaurants has seen prices of agricultural commodities drop. This is due to the closure of restaurants and entertainment joints due to social distancing rules.
Further, measures such as the dusk to dawn curfew, self-isolation upon contact with suspected carriers of the virus, and inspections on the road for health certificates have reduced the number of delivery staffs critical to ensuring transportation of agricultural products. This has pronounced implications for perishable goods such as meat and vegetables.
Furthermore, markets have gone a step further by shutting down floor trading ( this refers to an area where trading activities involving financial instruments like money take place ) which has impacted the ability to exchange commodities. Health measures have been imposed to reduce the transfer of the virus through cash money and hence the use of online money exchanges like MPESA has led to many difficulties in the market as some buyers are not able to access the online transfers
2. Manufacturing Industry
There is a negative impact of the pandemic on business operations due to importation issues and staffing deficiencies due to disruption to supply chains and self-isolation policies.
Indeed, for many roles within a manufacturing company, working from home is not a viable option. Chemical manufacturing companies for example are not able to produce the chemicals without being present at the firm hence leading to delay in the activities, contributing to a slowdown in the predicted growth of the industries.
COVID-19 has affected all levels of the education system, from pre-school to tertiary education. In Kenya, there has been complete closure of schools with a number of them forced to focus on online learning, which has also proved to be a challenge due to poor infrastructure in place.
In March 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the approval of Google Loon Services in Kenya to enable universal 4G data coverage in the country, which was in line with the government’s measures to help people work and students learn from home.
That has however not helped much since the majority of the students cannot access stable and affordable internet for online learning. According to the United Nations Educational. Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), close to 900 million learners globally, have been affected by the closure of educational institutions.
Apart from the impact on undergraduate education, the most significant impact is on the postgraduate research community with research into many non-COVID related topics being placed on hold. For example, some universities in Kenya offering courses that involve health research have halted all non-COVID research in order to allow clinically trained staff who are normally on academic secondments to return to the frontline.
This sector has also felt the effects of the pandemic, with a number of financial institutions reporting losses or reduction in profits in their half-year financial statements.
In a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections, the Kenyan government introduced free transactions on banks and this was followed by telecommunication companies to encourage Kenyans to embrace cashless transactions. This, however, did not go well with financial institutions as it meant some loss on transaction charges.
For instance, giant telco operator Safaricom expects to lose a total of Ksh.19 billion from its mobile-money service M-Pesa following the waiver of fees on transactions below Ksh.1000.Free mobile-money transactions for amounts below Ksh.1000 which extended to December 31, 2020.