The year 2020 goes down in the annals of history as one that redefined the world. It is the year that a pandemic hit the world, getting the whole world unaware while sweeping almost everything along the way. Will the world ever be the same again after 2020?
Here are 10 events that shaped Kenya’s economic activities in 2020:
This was the mother of all problems in 2020. The young people would call it the Bazuu. With its origin in Wuhan, China, the virus spread like bushfire around the world, infecting and killing people en masse. Currently, the United States is leading in terms of infections.
In Kenya, the virus was more of an economic problem than a health crisis as you will see. People were actually more worried about their income than contracting the virus. The virus changed the face of Kenya forever, for the first time, demolishing the illusional middle-class.
On Sunday, Kenyans were up in arms when President Uhuru Kenyatta decided to extend the curfew by 90 more days to March 2021. The curfew has been running since March 2020, kicking off from 10 pm to 4 am. Initially, it started at 9 pm to 5 am.
Curfew was a new thing for most Kenyans. According to the majority of Kenyans, the curfew has done more harm than good. It has hindered the movement of people and goods at night and it has hit hard on businesses such as bars and clubs.
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced tax relief with the aim of cushioning Kenyans against the heat from the Covid-19 pandemic. Although many Kenyans feel the tax cuts had little effect on their income, businesses feel it was worth it.
During the year, the Value Added Tax (VAT) was reduced from 16 percent to 14 percent. Income Tax was reduced from 30 percent to 25 percent. Kenyans earning 24,000 and below were exempted from paying taxes, (PAYE).
Massive Job Losses
The year 2020 was the year that a record number of Kenyans lost their jobs. As businesses failed to remain afloat because of the pandemic, they opted to lay off their workforce. People lost their jobs en masse and the trend might continue to year.
Stats from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed that at least two million Kenyans (2,000,000) lost their jobs between the month of March 2020 and October 2020. According to the World Bank, at least 1.8 million Kenyans went into poverty.
Building Bridges Initiative (BBI)
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is one of the political events that hit Kenya in 2020. The proponents of the document that is said to have taken at least 10 billion shillings to prepare, believe that it is the solution to all problems facing the country.
BBI proposes a change on the Kenyan Constitution, including more positions in Parliament including the position of the Prime Minister. In 2020, talk about the document divided the country into political factions; those for and those against.
In 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the closure of all learning institutions to cut down on the spread of Covid-19 among learners. The closure saw parents stay at home with their children for nine months melting a whole academic year.
During the closure of schools, at least 300 private schools shut down permanently leaving about 56,000 learners with no school to go to. The pandemic forced a change in the school calendar where learners will sit their national examinations in March.
KRA Revenue Shortfall
In 2020, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) fell short of revenue collection by 125 billion shillings. This hit hard on the spending of the government with civil servants having their salaries delayed. At some point, the Treasury Admitted that Kenya was broke.
The shortfall in revenue meant that the country had to borrow to sustain its operations. Currently, the country is seeking to borrow at least 400 billion shillings from both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Churches and Funerals
For the first time, churches in Kenya shut countrywide and people were advised to stay at home. Due to the curfew, night church meetings (keshas) that played loud music were stopped. Later, people were allowed to worship but with strict following of Covid-19 protocols.
Funerals changed. At the advent of Covid-19, families were required to bury their loved ones within 24 hours. The number of people at a funeral was limited to 15 people. The number was later revised to 150.
This might seem like a small thing but a mask defined Kenya. All over a sudden everyone was required to wear a mask to stop the spread of Covid-19. The price of masks was high at first. The cheapest was going for 5o shillings while the highest from 1,200 shillings.