Election standoff hurting the economy, says business lobby

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry national chairman Kiprono Kittony (right) and Chamber Enterprise Club chairman Julius Opiyo in Nairobi on September 7. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

What you need to know:

  • Trade chamber estimates that Kenya is losing billions of shillings as country waits to do a second round.

The country is losing billions of shillings due to the anxiety associated with the annulled presidential election results and the standoff over a planned date for the repeat poll.

A business chamber estimates that the economy has lost Sh21.3 billion since the Supreme Court ruling last week, attributing this to a wait-and-see attitude among investors, low money circulation and missed business opportunities.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) chairman Kiprono Kitonny said the private sector has lost about 0.3 per cent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) in earnings since the announcement.

Kenya’s GDP, according to the 2o17 Economic Survey Report, is worth Sh7.1 trillion ($69 billion).

Mr Kittony said the downturn in business has been driven by the tense situation around the highly competitive August 8 General Elections, the fallout thereafter and the continuation that goes into the October 17 repeat poll.

“As a result, the country has witnessed a fall in exports, low money circulation, weaker purchasing power among traders and low employment rates,” he said in Nairobi on Thursday.

“We have also witnessed a wait-and-see attitude on the part of foreign investors as well as capital flights at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.”

The cumulative erosion of market capitalisation at the exchange hit Sh130 billion in just two trading sessions, with the bourse having shed Sh92 billion on Friday as it reacted sharply to the news of a repeat presidential election.

Mr Kittony appealed to political parties and other key stakeholders to respect and support the verdict of the Supreme Court and give a chance to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to execute its mandate as provided in the law.

He urged the commission to stick to the date of the election as proposed as the chamber would want Kenyans to go back to business as soon as possible.

He said a delay would further slow down economic activities in the country.

“We have seen a back and forth by actors on the political scene regarding the date of the election. Our position is that we would like the elections to be [held] as soon as possible,” said Mr Kittony.

Kenya’s electoral body on Monday chose October 17 as the date for a new vote ordered by the Supreme Court when it annulled the August polls.
The date for a repeat election has so far been rejected by Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

Mr Odinga said on Tuesday he will not accept the date, arguing that the IEBC failed to consult him and other stakeholders as stipulated by law.

The Jubilee side has, however, dismissed Mr Odinga’s claims, saying there is no provision in law that requires that he must be consulted before a repeat poll is held.


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