Progress made by the East African member countries is destined to slow further as the region is hit by a new Covid-19 wave.
Economic growth in the East African Community (EAC) averaged 2.3 per cent in 2020 when the pandemic broke out a low performance compared to an average of 5.4 per cent recorded in 2019.
Experts had anticipated the economic growth in the EAC region to recover in 2021, reflecting a resumption of global economic activity with the easing of containment measures.
However, this may not come to fruition as the region is hit by the new pandemic waves that have seen member states locking their economies again.
Mr Alykhan Satchu, a renowned EAC regional economic expert, sharing his thoughts says: “The anticipation for EAC economic recovery has been entirely overtaken by events and specifically the virulence of the Covid-19 third wave we are experiencing in the East African region.”
He said the third wave will crest at levels higher than previous waves and the economic consequences are bleak.
While presenting the region’s budget for the financial year 2021/2022, the chairperson of the Council of Ministers and Kenya’s Minister for EAC, Adan Mohamed, in speech read for him by Chief Administrative Secretary, Ken Obura, said: “The $91.7m (Shs325 trillion) budget was coming at a time the Covid-19 pandemic had ravaged economies through lockdowns and economic shutdowns that had affected economic performance in the entire region negatively.”
The pandemic reality will be around for a much longer time than earlier anticipated.
“The pandemic on EAC partner states’ economies has been devastating to sectors like manufacturing and agriculture sectors because of the disruption in global supply chains and a fall in global demand for key export goods such as horticulture produce,” Mohamed said.
Uganda’s industrial sector shrunk the most in region rating at 6.3 per cent. This was followed by Rwanda and Kenya whose industrial sector shrunk by 3.5 per cent, 0.5 per cent respectively.