In Summary
  • Badly hit are businesses that had their doors closed over the period, awaiting announcement of the presidential election results and the subsequent reaction.
  • Now pundits say that sending Kenyans to the polls in August is economically more harmful than during the traditional December date when most companies have closed down for repairs and stock-taking, allowing workers to travel upcountry for the Christmas season.

The past week has witnessed serious disruption of economic activities, with many Kenyans staying indoors to monitor election results on social media, radio and television screens.

Badly hit are businesses that had their doors closed over the period, awaiting announcement of the presidential election results and the subsequent reaction. From mama mbogas, mikokoteni pushers, car washers to matatus operators, the story has been the same.

The week has seen food, money transfer outlets and other businesses shut while transport services have been withdrawn, hurting movement of people and goods. Consumers are currently paying heavily to put food on the table.

Now pundits say that sending Kenyans to the polls in August is economically more harmful than during the traditional December date when most companies have closed down for repairs and stock-taking, allowing workers to travel upcountry for the Christmas season.

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for the election day to be moved back to December, arguing that the August date set by the Constitution was bad for business.

“The first half of the year has been a wait-and-see period. Most businesses will be shut for a week. Yet we’re in the second half of the year. We need to revert to the December date so that we don’t strangle the economy and productivity,” said Mr Kiprono Kittony, who chairs the lobby group.

“Due to past incidents, there’s a justification for business owners to be worried,” Mr Kittony said in an interview on Tuesday.

This year’s exercise also disrupted the education calendar, forcing all institutions to close early, with some universities deferring their activities to facilitate participation of staff and learners in elections.

The business community called for a quick restoration of normalcy, saying further disruption of economic activities would hurt Kenya’s stature globally, driving away investments across various sectors and hurting tourism, which has witnessed a rebound.

“In the interest of lives, livelihoods and prosperity, normalcy should resume immediately. Politicians and leaders from across the divide should be careful with the statements they make as this is a charged atmosphere,” said the business community in a statement released by its lobby Mkenya Daima Initiative.

The initiative’s chairman, Mr Vimal Shah, who heads edible oils and detergents maker Bidco Africa, said Kenyans could not afford to lose another day sitting at home awaiting election results.

Early this month, a large number of people living in Nairobi and other major towns moved their families upcountry fearing an outbreak of violence. In the process, this disrupted the food value chain that drives urban and rural economies.

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