COVID: Kenya records 5.7% GDP drop in second quarter

Good performance recorded in the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sectors could not shield Kenya from adverse effects of coronavirus pandemic in the second quarter of the year ending June as real GDP contracted by 5.7 percent.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that the reduction, which is the largest in recent times, was lower compared to the same period last year when the economy expanded 5.3 percent.

KNBS attributes the decline to the tough COVID-19 containment measures which were deployed in March at the onset of the pandemic in a bid to contain the spread.

“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,” the bureau said.

Accommodation and food services recorded the largest contraction at 88.3 percent during the period compared to a growth of 12.1 percent in the same period last year.

“The significantly reduced number of visitors’ arrivals as well as restrictions of movement within the country adversely affected the sector’s performance. In addition, the fear of contracting the virus by individuals led to people avoiding hotels and restaurants further affecting its performance negatively,” KNBS said.

The ban placed on international flights during the period which saw the tourism industry face near-collapse resulted in the number of visitor arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport reduce 99.5 percent and Moi International Airport 99.9 percent.

Transport and storage, manufacturing, and electricity supply all contracted by 11.6 percent, 3.9 percent, and 0.6 percent respectively.

Between April and June cargo transported on Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) rose by 3.9 percent to stand at 1,053 thousand metric tonnes.

However, growth was salvaged from further decline as agriculture, forestry, and fishing activities expanded by 6.4 percent, financial and insurance activities 4.2 percent, construction 3.9 percent, health Services 10.3 percent, public administration 5.7 percent, real estate activities 2.2 percent, and mining and quarrying activities 10.0 percent.

Growth in agriculture, in particular, was supported by increase in tea production, cane deliveries, milk intake, and fruit exports.

“Tea production increased by 34.5 percent from 106,314 metric tonnes in the second quarter of 2019 to 143,037 metric tonnes in the review period,” KNBS said.


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