Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta with First Lady Margaret at Swearing In on November 28, 2017
President Uhuru Kenyatta Sworn In

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday the economy has grown by 4.6 percent in the first half of this year compared to 5.5 percent in the same period in 2019 despite disruptions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kenyatta who addressed the nation in a televised speech in Nairobi said the current economic indicators are far better than anticipated in spite of a general slump caused by the pandemic.

Kenyatta said inflation is lower at 4.4 percent compared to 6.3 percent during the same period last year.

“Reviewing the results today, I must admit that we have done better than we expected. For instance, even under COVID, the economy has grown by 4.6 percent compared to 5.5 percent last year,” he said.

“But the inspiring successes amongst us have been those that have used the COVID crisis to re-imagine their conditions,” Kenyatta added.

The Kenyan leader said the banking sector has begun to re-tool and humanize its model, noting that instead of focusing on profits, it has re-engineered its model to focus on the customer.

He said government institutions like Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) have also remodeled their approach, instead of destroying 1.5 million liters of illicit ethanol in their custody, they had it converted into hand sanitizers.

“But the most inspiring story of re-imagining your circumstances during this COVID crisis is from a proprietor of a big school that closed. In order to meet his obligations with banks and other suppliers, one, Joseph Kungu, turned his school into a farm, rearing chicken and producing food,” said Kenyatta.

The growth witnessed in the country’s economic turnout comes after Kenyatta eased COVID-19 restriction measures which have allowed the resumption of activity.

Kenyatta ended the ban on inter-county travel in and out of the counties of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera on July 6 while paving way for the resumption of domestic and international flights on July 15 and Aug. 1 respectively.

The president said exporters too are re-tooling and turning the challenge into promise with fruits and horticulture farmers seeing their earnings jump to 81 billion shillings (about 750 million U.S. dollars) between January and June compared to 700 million U.S. dollars for a similar period in 2019.

According to Kenyatta, earnings from fruits alone nearly doubled from 65 million dollars to 111 million dollars.

“What these examples of re-tooling business in times of crisis teach us is that a crisis represents both danger and opportunity. And those who horrify themselves with the danger, will not survive. But those who choose to exploit the opportunities presented by the crisis, become the heroes of the moment,” said Kenyatta.

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