African business, politics and lifestyle
Kenya: Dealing with the hard times
It was not the most encouraging message after a year that had few silver linings for the country of 36 million, still recovering from a bout of post-election violence early last year.
But the global crisis has strained even some of the world’s most advanced economies as well as many across Africa and Kibaki was not about to shield Kenyans from reality. He even cancelled the traditional New Year’s Eve state ball that is held in his official residence in Mombasa, on the steamy Indian Ocean coast.
Indeed, redrawing plans, revising growth numbers and tightening belts is a routine which Kenyan officials are used to by now. Last week, the economic secretary in the ministry of finance told Reuters that growth estimates for 2008 had been lowered to less than 3.5-4 percent, down from an earlier forecast of 4.5-6 percent.
In the same week, the government stated its intention to declare a national emergency over a drought that has left about 10 million facing starvation.
In the trendy parts of Nairobi, all seems to be fine.
Young urban professionals still flock the numerous malls and coffee houses for a bit of shopping and animated catch-ups over drinks.
But underneath the calm, most have had to tighten their belts. A newspaper cartoonist depicted how hard times were forcing a rethink of cultural norms. Families were dispensing with the tradition of sharing a meal with visitors by asking them to carry their own food.
What expectations do you have for Kenya in 2009? How is the global crisis being felt elsewhere in Africa?