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The State of Kenya’s Post-pandemic Economy

The economic crisis caused by the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns has left many struggling: 1.7 million Kenyans lost their jobs between April and June 2020, while 20.8 million borrowed funds using a programme provided by popular mobile carrier Safaricom, double last year’s number. One financial services conglomerate headquartered in Nairobi bought a yard to store all the cars it had repossessed after customers couldn’t repay their loans. Governments across the developing world are struggling to adapt to widespread financial losses due to Covid-19, compounded by debt repayment to private creditors. The grouping of the largest economies, the G20, meets in Saudi Arabia this weekend, and will urge private credit institutions to suspend debt repayments, ideally to allow more spending on combating the pandemic. Big banks and asset management companies hold trillions in debts. Members of the Africa Private Creditor Working Group hold more than $9tn in assets in Africa, while the asset management company BlackRock holds almost $1bn in bonds in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Zambia.