African business, politics and lifestyle
Is Kenya’s economy back on track?
Only a few months ago, it seemed all doom and gloom for the Kenyan economy as post-election violence threatened to wipe out gains and stymy growth.
Tourists were cancelling safari and beach holidays in their droves. Gangs were rampaging around the agricultural heartlands. And few would dare to journey on roads full of boulders, burning tyres and knife-wielding youths.
Yet even back then, some analysts argued that East Africa’s strongest economy should be able to withstand the electoral crisis, provided it was brought to a rapid halt.
And stop it did, after President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga buried their differences over who won the Dec. 27 vote in a coalition government formed in April.
Now foreign and local investors have given a resounding thumbs-up to Kenya’s economy via the largest InItial Public Offering in the region’s history. The offer for mobile operator Safaricom was over-subscribed by 532 percent, shares leapt 50 percent in the first hours of trading and 860,000 people bought shares via the IPO.
So is Safaricom indicative of Kenya’s recovery, or is there still a long way to go?
Have investors got over the shock they received earlier this year?
How does Kenya compare to other sub-Saharan African nations — neighbours Uganda and Tanzania; or heavyweights South Africa and Nigeria — as an investment destination? Which are the sectors to put money in?
And can the shaky coalition hold?