Private sector activity will improve as sentiment strengthens, but public sector demand remains fragile
MNCs can expect gradual improvements to customer sentiment—especially in the private sector—over the coming months. Pent-up demand from purchases deferred in the months ahead of the election will generate a boost to commercial activity, necessitating active inventory management and ensuring local partners and distributors have the capabilities to capitalize on rising demand. However, MNCs should prepare for gradually expanding austerity measures that will cause weak demand growth, delayed payments, and tough pricing negotiations from public sector customers.
- On September 5, Kenya’s Supreme Court affirmed William Ruto’s victory in the August 9 presidential election, which he won with just 50.5% of the vote.
- Raila Odinga—Ruto’s main opponent and the petitioner of the case—has accepted the Supreme Court’s ruling.
- Ruto is expected to be sworn in on September 13, marking an important milestone for peaceful transitions of power in Kenya.
Odinga’s acceptance of the Supreme Court’s ruling significantly reduces the risks of political violence over the coming months. Some localized unrest instigated by disgruntled Odinga supporters cannot be ruled out, but disruptive and widespread violence is now increasingly unlikely. Once in power, Ruto is expected to adopt a relatively pro-business policy stance, but a major departure from the previous administration’s approach to economic management is unlikely. Besides, the sentiment-boosting Supreme Court ruling and easing foreign currency shortages (as the shilling loses value) will help FDI and domestic business investment to regain momentum. GDP is forecast to grow 4% YOY in 2022 and accelerate to 5.1% YOY in 2023. However, consumer spending will take longer to recover given accelerating inflation and the muted outlook for the tourism industry. Meanwhile, the new administration faces difficult fiscal trade-offs: its goals of insulating households from rising food and transport costs, and pressure to expand social programs, such as universal healthcare and access to housing, will clash with the need to raise taxes and cut spending to tackle the yawning budget deficit.
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