Key economic lessons from Covid-19 pandemic

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 00:00 | By
Mercy Mwangangi, Health Chief Administrative Secretary speaks during a donation ceremony of equipment to help in the fight against COVID-19, in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. (Xinhua)

Kenya, like the rest of the world, is on the cusp of reopening an economy that has been battered by seven months of the Covid-19 pandemic shocks.

It is a “new normal” manifested by massive unemployment, surging debt and one of the slowest economic growth rates in recent times.

While we can only learn from the tough lessons and move on, we march forward knowing the extent of the disruption and the unprecedented havoc the pandemic has created.

However, a little bit of reflection will go a long way in giving Kenyans desired opportunity to move forward with renewed confidence.

From the lessons learnt and interventions made, a window of opportunity exists, and ours as a nation is to ensure we build on the experiences.

The shock and realisation that the local industry had no capacity to support the battle against the pandemic is one good example that must be taken as a blessing in disguise, and a clarion call to local manufacturers and key decision makers.

This not only fostered transformation of local industries to PPE manufacturing points, but more importantly, the speed with which companies moved to produce ventilator prototypes only goes to demonstrate Kenya’s potential to regenerate.

What is required now is a change of mindset, and thinking out of the box, and taking these lessons as an opportunity to revitalise the economy, leveraging the manufacturing sector through import substitution.

This will not only create more employment opportunities but it will also enhance exports and give the economy impetus for growth.

Covid-19 also presented an occasion to explore possibilities in online businesses as witnessed by a surge in the number of Kenyans leveraging the internet to sell goods and services.

Firms embraced change as demonstrated by ICT infrastructure usage, testing Kenya’s internet platforms to the limit.

Possibilities of Kenya’s 24-hour economy dream abound from the pandemic shocks, which opportunities must be reflected in learning institutions, and how public service can be delivered remotely and efficiently.

Huge opportunities abound in adopting digital technology to manage future disruptions through digital literacy programmes.

By teasing out lessons learnt, coupled with good planning and engagement, Kenya can emerge from this crisis stronger and better prepared to face the future.

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