Macro Forum: The Street View
COVID-19 Chronicles Revisited: Kenya
During the last 12 months Kenya has suffered three waves of the COVID-19 virus. The third, thought to be the more virulent South Africa variant, is still on going, sweeping from Nairobi across the country and causing the Government to again declare stringent lockdown measures including restrictions on travel, all social gatherings and a night time curfew.
Just as the first delivery of 1m doses of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine from the WHO Covax facility arrived in the country, the Government was prompted to act as the positivity rate of those tested for COVID-19 rose to over 20% and intensive care facilities in Nairobi reached full capacity.
The Government has certainly played its part by demonstrating sound, pragmatic judgement in balancing the need to protect healthcare with the desire to maintain an open economy and as much personal freedom as possible. It has been extraordinary to see how positive, resourceful and hard-working Kenyans have been despite the very harsh economic environment.
Throughout COVID-19, the main consequence to the Kenya economy has been to the tourism and hospitality sector and Java, our quick service restaurant chain, has certainly taken the brunt. Footfall, reduced by the curfew, and capacity, reduced by the need to observe strict social distancing protocols, has meant sales remain considerably below pre pandemic levels causing the business to focus on its cost base and growing home delivery, retail products and value promotions.
Kipeto, our 100 MW wind farm located on the edge of the Rift Valley in Kajiado County has, by applying very strict protocols, effectively managed to control COVID-19. We completed the construction and installation of the plant in 2020 with minimal delays, moving to commissioning in early 2021. Kipeto has also provided much needed practical support to the local communities.
Also under construction, Mi Vida, our medium cost housing development at Garden City, has remained open for business. Amid social distancing, mask wearing, hand sanitising and temperature checks the sales office has remained staffed throughout and open for public viewings.
Meanwhile, the Kenya economy, which did not contract in 2020, remains robust. Supported by record inflows of diaspora capital, interest rates and the Kenya shilling remain stable. Fitch recently reaffirmed its B+ credit rating.
However, the vaccine rollout is not expected to be complete until at least 2023 and a return to normal life will take time.
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