Here're 7 biggest events which shaped Kenya and its economy in 2019

President Uhuru Kenyatta
  • According to the latest Prosperity Index, Kenyans’ financial situation is worse off compared now compared when ex President Kibaki was in power.
  • Mounting public debt, reduced savings, job cuts and a stagnant economy were cited as the primary culprits for Kenya’s poor show.
  • Here are 7 events which shaped Kenya in 2019.

2019 has been an interesting year filled with many highs and lows for Kenyans.

The Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank, ranks Kenya at position 113 out of 167 countries compared to 117 in 2009.

Mounting public debt, reduced savings, job cuts and a stagnant economy were cited as the primary culprits for Kenya’s poor show.

Of the 167 countries measured and tracked for prosperity in this year’s index, 148 (containing 88% of the world’s population) have seen an improvement in their prosperity since 2009. The gap in prosperity between those countries ranking at the top of the Index and those ranking at the bottom is also growing wider.

Uhuru-Raila handshake truce one year on

On March 9, 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and once his fiercest critic astounded both friends and foes when they decided to bury their political hatchet and work together.

The two leaders agreed to set up a 14-member team charged with working out the practical steps to be taken to implement the eight-point agenda of their agreement is the first major concrete step since the two leaders’ unexpected handshake on the steps of Harambee House on March 9.

The handshake resulted in a semblance of peace in the country and the birth of Building Bridges Initiative report released on November 30th at the Bomas of Kenya.

Speculation is rife that Uhuru-Raila handshake might involve power sharing and requisite constitutional changes come 2020.

Kenya’s New Currency

On June 1, 2019, during the 56th Madaraka Day celebrations in Narok President Uhuru Kenyatta and Central Bank Governor, Patrick Njoroge unveiled the country’s new currency to replace the old one.

The new currency notes was in Sh50, Sh100, Sh200, Sh500 and Sh1000 denominations and Kenyans were given until October 31 to discard the old Sh1000 note.

The phase out of the Sh1000 note, according to Dr Njoroge, would go a long way in helping deal with cases of counterfeits, which has impacted the economy negatively.

The phase out resulted in the amount of cash in Kenyans’ pockets dropping to a six-year low in September, the deadline for all Kenyans to convert their old Sh1,000 notes to the new currency that was unveiled on June 1.

CBK data shows that the cash circulating outside banks dropped to Sh157.7 billion in September — the lowest since April 2014.

Interest rates capping removal

After 3 years of interest rate caps, Kenyan Banks are once again at liberty to set interest rates to their liking after President Uhuru Kenyatta helped removed the yoke from their necks.

On October 2019, President Kenyatta threw his weight behind the banking industry and summarily ‘ordered’ lawmakers to read from the same script.

President Kenyatta declined to approve the finance bill and instead asked Members of Parliaments to scrap commercial lending rate caps before he would agree to sign the bill.

On November 5th 2019, Parliament met but lacked the numbers to veto the president’s reservations.

It remains to be seen whether banks will go back to the old days of charging steep interest rates following numerous complaints within the financial cycles that capping of interest rate was slowly choking the Kenyan economy.

In September 2016, the Kenyan Parliament passed an amendment to the Banking Act that capped interest rates at 4% of the Central Bank of Kenya Base Rate.

Judge Mumbi Ngugi ruling

On July 24, High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi ruled that governors facing corruption charges should step aside until their cases are concluded.

The Court of Appeal later upheld judge Ngugi's ruling sealing the fate of Kenyan elected leaders with corruption cases.

In the past, county governors charged with an offense would plead not guilty, secure release by paying cash bail, and then return to their normal lives where police fear they interfered with investigations.

Governors Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) and Mike Sonko (Nairobi) are currently barred from office until their corruption cases are concluded.

A number of Members of Parliament have pending cases in court and may soon be affected by judge Ngugi's ruling.

Several MCAs are also embroiled in criminal cases including misappropriation of public funds.

National Census

In November, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) officially released the total number of Kenya's population including the statistics per county as of 2019.

Kenya's population has grown by 9.9 million people over the last ten years to reach 47.6 million this year, according to the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census results.

The results indicate that Kenya’s female population currently stands at 24,014,716 and accounts for 50.5 percent of the total population while the male population is 23,548,056 persons.

The 2019 census report, shows that Nairobi is the most populous county in the country with a population of 4.4 million people followed by Kiambu (2.4), Nakuru (2.16), Kakamega (1.87) and Bungoma (1.67).

The least populous counties are Lamu(143,920), Isiolo (268,002), Samburu (310,3217), Tana River (315,943) and Taita Taveta (340,671).

Eliud Kipchoge

On October 12th in Vienna, Austria, the world’s greatest marathoner and Kenyan athlete, Eliud Kipchoge become the first man ever to run a marathon in under two hours.

The Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder run for unbelievable 1:59:40. to completely shatter the belief that humans can never perform such a feat.

Since then everyone has been tripping over themselves to rush to him and award him one award after another.

Harambee starlets victory

2019 has certainly been a good year for Kenya’s national female football team, Harambee starlets.

The Kenyan team carried the day at the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) where they won the Challenge Cup, their first ever conquest at the CECAFA Women’s Challenge Cup in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Apart from winning the regional tournament with an unbeaten record, Starlets also did not concede a single goal and also produced the top striker in the tournament in Jentrix Shikangwa.

Starlets also reached the penultimate round of the 2020 Olympics Qualifiers, but they eventually lost to Zambia in a two-legged tie.

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