The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry now backs the plan by President Uhuru Kenyatta to reopen the economy. This comes a week after Uhuru hinted at a possibility of relaxing the curfew and cessation of movement measures during his address to the nation last Saturday,
In statement, KNCCI President Mr. Richard Ngatia says the partial reopening of the economy means it is still far from business as usual as businesses are still grappling with a high level of individual responsibility to abide by the Covid-19 protocols. He adds that plans are underway to ensure employees are provided with protective gears such as face masks and hand sanitisers as economy reopens.
“We should now be alive to the fact about what the new normal should be and abide by all the health guidelines set. KNCCI hereby candidly implores upon his Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta to gradually reopen the economy,” He said.
With 80 per cent of Kenya’s population living off the informal economy with day – to – day earnings, Ngatia asserts that the purpose of reopening the economy would primarily be to get people back to work and allow them earn their livelihoods with dignity. “This is a matter of both life and death, prosperity or poverty, as deep recession is likely to cause widespread hardship, including increased mortality rates for reasons other than the virus,” he said.
However, the chamber wants the hospitality sector to be the first to be allowed to open given that their nature of service cannot be done virtually, and that that the sector contributes immensely to the country’s GDP growth. On Wednesday owners of The Fairmont Norfolk, an iconic hotel in Nairobi announced that it is closing its doors indefinitely and will fire all employees over the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the business.
Fairmont joins a growing list of hotels that have closed or suspended operations due to the effects of coronavirus. In March, Nairobi’s Tribe Hotel, Ole Sereni and DusitD2 stopped operations days after the government imposed travel restrictions and social distancing rules to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Central Bank has also warned that about 75 percent of Kenya’s small and medium-sized businesses face collapse if they fail to get fresh funds from banks or equity partners by end of next month.
According to a study conducted in April, CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge notes that the small businesses surveyed had said that without help they would close by the end of June because they lacked credit buffers and other resources to survive the slowdown caused by the Coronavirus.