NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – Stock Analyst Aly-Khan Satchu said Kenya will only be able to implement a total lockdown if it agrees on a stimulus package for millions of Kenyans ravaged by the COVID-19 crisis.
Satchu said the economy, whose largest percentage of workers are in the informal sector, cannot be sustained should a lockdown be imposed as it has in other countries to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
He added that a lockdown without giving a stimulus would not work, due to the high number of people living in extreme poverty in the country.
“What we are forgetting is that many Kenyans can barely support themselves beyond a day, so they need to go out and work so that they can afford necessities. The truth is, many Kenyans cannot and will not be able to abandon their livelihoods in the name of a lockdown,” Satchu said.
A 2018 survey by World Bank ranked Kenya 8th globally and 6th in Africa among countries with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty.
The government pushes the social distance rule that includes working from home for Kenyan workers and shutting down businesses such as bars and entertainment joints to stop the spread of the virus.
“Many of our workers do the sort of jobs that cannot be done at home. If the government really needs people to stay at home to protect them from the virus, then it needs to give them money,” he added.
Satchu was borrowing a leaf from the United States which announced earlier that it had reached an agreement on a stimulus package for its economy.
The deal aims to buttress the teetering US economy by giving roughly US$2 trillion to health facilities, businesses and ordinary Americans buckling under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic.
Satchu’s comments come even as the government seeks Sh122.5 billion emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to fight the virus and its effects on the economy.
Early last week, the World Bank announced it had given the government Sh6.1 billion to help combat the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, the government received medical aid donated by billionaire Jack Ma Tuesday to assist in the fight against Coronavirus.