Amid election tensions, protests and uncertainty in the country, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) revealed that the Kenyan economy has lost a whopping KSh. 700 billion in the last four months. Engineer Patrick Obath, KEPSA’s Vice Chair, speaking on behalf of more than 500,000 members said, ” the private sector having reviewed the loss has estimated it to be about 10 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), equivalent to Ksh. 700 billion.” KEPSA is an umbrella body consisting of members of the private sector formed in 2003, to unite Kenya’s business community in one voice towards achieving an enabling environment through influencing public policy.
Reasons for the loss
In KEPSA’s statement, election uncertainty, coupled with the widespread violence witnessed in the countrywide anti-election demonstrations, have damaged and will continue to harm Kenya’s economy. Business owners face looting and destruction of their property as has been witnessed in some of the protests that have brought cities to a standstill. This has led to a disruption of livelihoods and loss of jobs.
This goes hand in hand with a statement made by the Kenya Business Community under KEPSA on the 12th of October, calling attention to the undermining of Kenya’s global competitiveness due to election uncertainty that has gripped the country. The Kenya Business Community talked of their members resorting to a wait and see attitude on key investment and spending decisions as they await the ending of the electioneering period. A trend with far-reaching negative consequences for the economy.
Appeal to leaders and protesters
KEPSA urges all parties holding demonstrations to realize that their rights come with responsibility and thus shouldn’t infringe on others’ rights in the name of exercising their own. In the statement, KEPSA Vice Chair Engineer Patrick Obath appeals to Kenyans to realize that the private sector shares in pain from any election related chaos occurring. He points to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (the country’s biggest employer) who bear the biggest burden from the chaos but when the economy suffers everyone feels the pinch.
KEPSA also identified wholesale and retail sectors as some of the hardest hit businesses noting that street demos forced them to shut premises for fear of looting and destruction of property. Kenya is also losing transit business as landlocked countries such has Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and DRC Congo that rely on Kenya to transport their goods have diverted their goods to Tanzania. This is a blow to Kenya’s long-distance truck and rail transportation business and warehouse services as well.
In its statement, KEPSA calls for a national conversation after the elections are over, noting that there is a section of Kenyans who feel aggrieved by the way the current constitution is unfolding. However, there are provisions allowing constitutional changes but in everything done, it should be within the law and confines of the constitution.
During trying times, when there is great division and rivalry in the society, the business community must recognize its position as an important player in bringing unity and use its power and influence to hold all parties accountable.
Featured image via www.the-star.co.ke