Kenya lost a staggering Kshs. 560 billion as a result of strict COVID-19 health containment measures deployed by the government last year.
While giving his 14th Presidential Address on COVID-19 Pandemic on Friday, President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the severity the health measures had on the overall economic growth as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted to 0.6% from the projected growth of 6.2%.
“Take the first six months of the pandemic for instance, we imposed curfews, declared cessation of movement from certain counties like Nairobi and Mombasa and enforced specific lockdowns in areas like Eastleigh here in Nairobi. The cost of this bold decision to our economy was hefty, nevertheless the profit of the swift policy action is immeasurable in terms of human lives saved,” said President Kenyatta.
According to the President, failure to implement swiftly, the strict COVID-19 rules, Kenya would have had 1 million infection by close of 2020 and at least 150,000 deaths.
“In this regard, between protecting the economy and losing an average of 2000 people daily, as per those projection, we as a government chose life over economy. The logic here and has been for the last one year, is that you can always revive an economy, but you cannot revive a lost life. If you take care of the people, they will take care eventually, and revive the economy,” President Kenyatta added.
Though the President admitted growth setbacks and reduced business activities, Kenya performed better compared to World GDP output of -3.5%, Euro Area -7.2% and the United Kingdom -10%, supported by improved horticulture exports, manufacturing and financial services sectors.
“Today, these enterprises, especially SMEs have sprung back with incredible innovations, capable of anticipating and responding to market shocks.”
The President further projects the economy to rebound to 7% in 2021 even with rollback of some COVID-19 measures and extension of 10PM-5AM curfew hours by another 60 days.