This year, the Kenyan economy is said to have shrunk for the first time since the third quarter of 2008. In the second quarter of the year, the growth rate had already declined from positive 5.3 % recorded in 2019 to negative 5.7 per cent.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) blamed the COVID-19 virus and the measures put in place to prevent further spread of the virus for the delayed relay of the Kenyan economic performance between April and June 2020.  These measures include the nationwide curfew, burning of intercounty travel and restrictions on international flights that were implemented at the beginning of April.

KNBS stated that “Although Kenya was somehow spared the severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first quarter of 2020, the economy was significantly affected by the disease in the second quarter of 2020. During this period, the country instituted measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus, which included restriction of movement in and out of some counties, closure of learning institutions, closure of some businesses especially those dealing in Accommodation and Food Services, near cessation of international travel among others,” 

The closure of education, accommodation and food services, taxes on products, transportation and storage services were also stated as factors that led to the poor economic performance experienced in the period.

“As a result, the performance of most sectors of the economy were to a large extent negatively affected by these measures with output considerably constrained and in some cases came to a complete halt,”

The accommodation and food service centres were the worst hit by the pandemic, following the partial closure of mass gathering areas like bars, with a contracting percentage of 83.8%. Some other sectors that experienced significant effects of the pandemic were the education centre at a 56.3% contraction rate and the transport and storage sector with a declining percentage of 11.6.

However, some sectors in Kenya registered resilience against the declining trend, sparing the economy from further ruin. For example, the agriculture industry is said to have expanded at 6.4% after the mining and the health industry at 10% and 10.3% respectively. 

This comes at a period where Kenya recorded a doubled rate of unemployment, with 1.7 million Kenyans losing their jobs as per the report of the statistician office.