Corona controls cut Kenya’s April EAC sales by Sh3.5bn


Thousands of trucks stuck at the Malaba border last month due to coronavirus disease testing by Uganda. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya’s exports to its three leading markets in the six-nation East African Community fell by Sh3.51 billion in the first full month following adoption of Covid-19 containment measures, official data shows.

Earnings from goods sold to Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda amounted to Sh5.61 billion in April, a drop of 38.47 percent compared with similar period in 2019, according to leading trade indicators published by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

Delays have rocked cross-border trade after partner States locked borders and ordered Covid-19 testing for truck drivers, with results taking 48 hours on average.

Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda early May reached a deal for testing of truck drivers for Covid-19 at the point of departure to ease tailbacks at border points after each nation initially insisted on separately conducting mandatory testing.

Delays threatened to renew long-standing trade disputes between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam mid-last month before the ministers for transport intervened.

The provisional CBK data shows Kenyan traders trucked goods worth Sh2.03 billion to Tanzania in April, a 34.16 percent drop compared to a similar period in 2019.

Exports to Uganda contracted 39.16 percent to Sh2.69 billion, Rwanda's orders plunged the sharpest at 44.82 percent to Sh890 million.

The exports to Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda fell by nearly half in April, or 48.82 percent, compared with the monthly average of Sh10.97 billion in the January-March 2020 period.

During the first quarter of 2020, exports to the three countries were estimated at Sh32.91 billion, a growth of 18.15 percent over similar quarter last year.

Rwanda had posted the largest growth in goods ordered from Kenya among the three countries during the first quarter of the year at 44.20 percent to Sh6.09 billion.

It was followed by Uganda at 16.10 percent to Sh18.83 billion while Tanzania’s orders grew 7.79 percent to Sh7.99 billion in the three-month period.

“We believe with current delays at the border points, trade volumes will fall by at least 30 percent this year,” EAC and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed said in an interview last month.

“Trucks that normally take three days to move from Mombasa to Kampala now take eight days. If this continues for up to six months, this will affect the demand side as well.”