Transition woes weigh down business activities
Despite a relatively peaceful election, uncertainties associated with the electioneering cycle have come to bear as business activities slowed down in most parts of the country after voting.
Kenyans awaited the release of the presidential tally by staying at home as most businesses closed shop countrywide, amidst mounting anxiety.
A spot check in Nairobi and Mombasa established that most businesses within the central business district (CBD) remained closed yesterday as they awaited the announcement of the presidential elections which had not been announced by the time of going to press.
The majority of the streets were deserted in Mombasa with several stalls in MacKinnon and Kongowea markets and key shopping malls were also closed.
Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industries Mombasa Chapter chair Mustafa Ramadhan told Business Hub that most businesses in Mombasa were “closed as a cautionary move”. “What is happening is that many business operators are being cautious since August 9; many businesses were closed and some have remained closed till today,” he said.
Bank of Baroda’s Nyali branch was closed while operators of most showrooms moved their vehicles to safer zones by yesterday. “We decided to close because we are not sure of the outcome of the elections. Already we have experienced violence during campaigns and during elections. We don’t want to take risks and this is why we have decided to close the business,” explained Eric Nduru, who owns a serial stall at Kongowea market.
Without disclosing how much was lost following reduced economic activities, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) said they are keen to ensure a smooth flow of operations immediately after election results are announced.
“This will play a critical role in the growth of the sector particularly in the county governments, guaranteeing a strong economic foundation, productive jobs and purchasing power for citizens,” KAM says.
Mike Macharia, CEO of Kenya Associations of Hotel Keepers and Caterers says contrary to other sectors players; in the hospitality industry, the dynamics were different. “We have not been quite affected by the political climate our operations have been normal and we expect it will remain that way,” he said.
“We foresee a continuation of the progress we’ve made this year and we don’t have any apprehension.”
Historically, there has been a slowdown in business every election year and 2022 hasn’t been different, with analysts saying the business community is adopting a wait-and-see approach before embarking on new projects or expanding on existing ones.