Thursday, December 2

Kenya’s GDP rebounds strongly in Q2, helped by relaxed COVID curbs

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NAIROBI — Kenya’s economy surged an annual 10.1% in the second quarter thanks to a rebound across most sectors and helped by relaxed COVID-19 curbs in East Africa’s largest economy, the statistics office said on Wednesday.

The economy contracted 4.7% in the same period last year. It grew 0.7% in the first quarter compared with 4.4% shrinkage in first quarter of 2020, the office said.

Kenya has seen rapid growth rates in recent years due to its diverse economy which does not depend on a single commodity or one major trading partner.

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“Some of the sectors that supported overall growth in the second quarter included manufacturing, education, transportation and storage, information and communication and other service activities,” the statistics office said.

It said manufacturing expanded 9.6% in the second quarter after contracting 4.7% in the same period of 2020, while transportation and storage grew 16.9% after shrinking 16.8% in second quarter last year.

The bureau said accommodation and food service activities, which include tourism, grew 9.1% year on year in the second quarter compared with a 56.8% contraction in the same period last year.

“This sector was the most hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, this improved tremendously in the review period after relaxation of most of the restrictions,” it said.

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“This performance is encouraging and signals positive and progressive recovery from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Kenya economy,” Finance Minister Ukur Yatani said in a statement accompanying the data release.

The second quarter GDP growth figure was first contained in a speech by Yatani, a copy of which was seen by Reuters. The ministry said it had not been released officially.

The director general of the statistics office, Macdonald Obudho, confirmed to Reuters the economic growth figures that were later released by his office.

Official data shows growth slid to -0.3% last year from 5.0% in 2019. The last time the economy contracted was in 1992.

The finance ministry forecasts 6% growth this year.

In late October, President Uhuru Kenyatta scrapped a night-time curfew that had been in place since March 2020, a move that was expected to help rejuvenate the economy. (Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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