Covid wiped away 2.5 million working hours in Kenya - study

Coronavirus COVID-19 infection 3D medical illustration. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya lost 2.5 million working hours in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, projections by the African Development Bank (AfDB) show.

The bank’s newly released annual Africa economic outlook report further shows the country lost 1.7 million working hours in 2021, a slight improvement compared to the year before.

But Kenya still did better than Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia which lost more working hours at the peak of the pandemic.

Nigeria lost 5.7 million working hours, followed by Ethiopia (3.3 million), Egypt (2.9 million) and South Africa (2.5 million).

The countries registered improvements in 2021 on lost working hours due to the lifting of Covid curbs that saw a rebound in economic activities.

Overall, Africa’s share of the global loss in working hours increased to 16 percent in 2021, with such divergence due partly to wide variations in vaccination access.

General working hours usually consist of 52 hours per week which can consist of eight hours from Monday to Friday, and five hours on Saturday.

Restriction of movement, lockdowns and night curfew imposed in March 2020 saw people working remotely, disrupting all sectors of the economy leading to reduced revenues and stifling growth.

The service sector, and particularly the hospitality industry was the hardest hit leading to job losses on reduced earnings and even the collapse of companies.

“The pandemic is still disrupting labour markets in Africa, and employment is yet to fully recover,” read the AfDB report.

The movement restrictions imposed in 2020 saw the suspension of international and domestic flights and banned social halting operations in the tourism sector.

Five-star hotels such as the Radisson Blu and The Norfolk Hotel only recently reopened, after shutting down for months on low bookings for rooms and conference facilities.

Kenya’s economy rebounded in 2021 to grow at the fastest pace in 11 years on the easing of Covid-19 restrictions which boosted recovery in key sectors.

Official data shows activities expanded 7.5 percent compared with a contraction of 0.3 percent a year earlier due to the Covid curbs meant to contain the spread of the virus that was first detected in the country in March 2020.

This economic recovery was mainly aided by improved performance in manufacturing, trade, transportation, real estate and financial services.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 6.8 percent in the first quarter of this year, which is above the pre-pandemic levels.

Fresh data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows the GDP was up from 2.7 percent last year and 4.4 percent in 2020 on recovery in the transport, food and service sectors.

AfDB noted the Covid pandemic affected a higher proportion of firms in services -retail, hotel, restaurants- than in manufacturing sectors.

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