Kenya private-sector activity expands for first time in eight months


NAIROBI, Jan 4 (Reuters) – Kenyan private-sector economic activity grew in December, expanding for the first time since April, after political risks subsided following the conclusion of a prolonged presidential election, survey data showed on Thursday.
Kenyan workers prepare men’s underwear at the Hela intimates export processing zone (EPZ) limited factory in Athi River, near Nairobi, Kenya, July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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The Markit Stanbic Bank Kenya Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing and services rose to 53.0, from 42.8 in November. The 50.0 mark separates expansion from contraction.

In October, the PMI slumped to 34.4, its lowest level since the series began in January 2014, after the opposition boycotted a repeat presidential vote ordered by the Supreme Court.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner and he was sworn into office for a second term at the end of November.

“The private sector began to benefit from political stability,” said Jibran Qureishi, regional economist for East Africa at Stanbic Bank.

“Growth will recover over the coming year, supported by the agriculture and tourism sector, while a resumption in public spending will also add some much-needed stimulus,” he said.

The economy expanded by 4.4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2017, its slowest quarterly growth since 2013.

In addition to the election, the economy was also buffeted by the effects of a severe drought and a slowdown in private- sector credit growth.

In November, Finance Minister Henry Rotich said the economy was expected to grow by more than 6 percent this year, up from a forecast of 5.0 percent in 2017.

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