Josephine Oguta prepares traditional vegetables for one of her customers inside a kiosk in the Kibera slum, Kenya’s largest informal settlement. She says the prices of basic necessities have doubled, or even tripled for her. However, it is Kenya’s staple food, corn, that bothers her the most.
“You can survive drinking tea without sugar. You can have green vegetables without cooking oil, but there is no substitute for ugali,” Oguta said, referring to Kenya’s popular maize diet. said.
“The price of corn flour has gone up significantly, and that’s the biggest pain point,” Oguta told DW. She said fewer people were coming to buy from her and, like many others, admitted that the tough economic times had forced her to hold off on some meals.
“Three meals a day are mandated, but people cannot afford them. The cost of living is too high. So they are forced to skip one meal and have another. increase.”
XN Iraki, an economist and associate professor at the University of Nairobi, said several factors contributed to the rise.
“Supply constraints, underinvestment in agriculture, the war in Ukraine, all of this contributes to rising inflation,” Iraki told DW.
With inflation currently at 8.3%, it is ordinary Kenyans who are suffering the most, he said.
“They can’t get enough food. They can’t travel where they want to go and they can’t pay the bills, so those affected by inflation are mostly those in the lower strata of society. is.”
A World Bank report said Kenya’s economic outlook is broadly optimistic, but there is a high level of uncertainty around it due to exposure to fuel, wheat and fertilizer imports.
Presidential candidate George Wajakoya (Republican) wants to legalize cannabis exports
How Kenya’s presidential candidate hopes to rebuild the economy
The four presidential candidates in Kenya’s presidential election have proposed various approaches to improve the living standards of 56 million Kenyans.
Opposition leader Laila Odinga — her fifth run — has pledged to help poor families with 6,000 Ksh ($50, €49) each month if elected.
The 77-year-old has also pledged to achieve double-digit economic growth.
Vice President William Root—Odinga’s main rival— has promised to reduce the cost of living in the first 100 days if Kenyans vote him as the country’s next leader.
Ruto said he would prioritize agricultural spending to increase domestic food production and draw the country away from expensive food imports.
But it is presidential candidate George Wajakoya’s economic recovery plan that has caused controversy in the East African country. Wajackoyah has proposed legalizing cannabis cultivation for export, arguing that it would generate enough income to pay back Kenya’s ballooning debt.
Meanwhile, Agano opposition presidential candidate David Mwaure Waihiga said he would cut payroll income tax (PAYE) in half if he became president. Waihiga said that corruption has cost him Ksh 240 trillion since Kenya became independent.
More than 80% of Kenyans work in the informal sector, including those motorbike taxi passengers.
Little relief from minimum wage hikes
In May, President Uhuru Kenyatta raised the minimum wage to 12%. But the vast majority of his 17 million workers in Kenya, which is some of the countries with the highest minimum incomes in the East African region, will not benefit immediately from recent wage increases.
That’s because only those working in the formal sector, who make up 17% of the workforce, are covered by the minimum wage law.
Like Josephine Oguta, more than 80% of Kenyans work in the informal sector. Regular employees are forced to use their savings to meet their daily needs.
Oguta is pessimistic about the presidential candidate’s promise to improve her standard of living.
“They are empty promises. They are [politicians] They’re just trying to get elected and nothing will change when they get to the office,” Oguta said, adding that as soon as they’re elected, they forget about the plight of ordinary Kenyans.
Other African countries were not spared the economic crisis
Economic hardships are not unique to Kenya. Food prices across the continent are skyrocketing due to inflation. For example, in July Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate reached 256% of his.
Elsewhere, Ghana’s economic data are not rosy. Growth has slowed this year, with inflation topping his 20-year high of nearly 30% in June.
President Nana Akufo Addo, who once promised to promote “Ghana Beyond Aid,” faces criticism over his economic management as the country struggles with a high cost of living.
His government recently turned to the International Monetary Fund to inject much-needed cash into the country.
Ghanaians occasionally protest over declining living standards in the country
Privilege Musvanhiri (Zimbabwe) and Isaac Kaledzi (Ghana) contributed to this article.
Editing: Rob Madge