The outbreak of the dreaded coronavirus has become the concern of the world, with every country fearing of even a single case.
So far, more than 89,000 cases of the infection have been reported globally, most of them in mainland China.
Deaths have also been confirmed in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, France, Taiwan, South Korea, Italy and Iran.
The virus has spread to many countries in the Asia-Pacific region as well as in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Africa.
However, in Africa the cases have been minimal, with a majority of those confirmed to have the deadly virus being foreigners.
In Kenya, there is not even a single case reported so far, with the government now seemingly taking extra precaution, of course after a public outcry.
Despite there being no reported case of coronavirus in Kenya, Kenyans are already feeling the heat with businesses that import from China and other affected countries affected.
This means that the heat will soon be passed to the ordinary Kenyans, since any pain subjected to businesses is passed on to the customer.
Data from the Kenya Trade Network Agency (KenTrade) indicates that Kenya’s imports from China plunged by Ksh58.64 billion in the first two months of the year, following coronavirus outbreak.
In the two months under review, the value of cargo imported from China dropped to Ksh101.46 billion from Ksh160.102 billion a year ago.
Two retailers, Tuskys and Naivas, have already warned that the prices of consumer goods such as furniture, clothing and electronics could go up this month, even as several countries lock their borders for coronavirus-stricken China.
The retailers indicate that they could run out of ‘Chinese’ stock in three weeks’ time, prompting a hike in prices.
One of the major imports from China is clothing and electronics. In 2018, second hand cloth imports popularly known as mitumba amounted to Ksh16.9 billion, according to a report from the Economic Survey.
The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) said on Friday that the epidemic will hit big and small business alike, dealing a heavy blow to Kenya’s economy.
“We will work with the government on economic mitigation actions during this season. Some of our private sector players with a critical reliance on imports from some of the affected regions are activating other supply chains and sourcing options to mitigate imminent disruptions before global trade settles back to normality,” Kepsa chief executive Carole Kariuki said.
China is Kenya’s single largest import market, accounting for over a fifth of Kenya’s annual total imports. Chinese imports to Kenya in the January-November 2019 period amounted to Ksh324.90 billion, a 20.3 percent of Ksh1.6 trillion import bill.
With already flights from China being suspended, it is likely that the import economy will be hurt more, as small businesses that depend on imported goods from China facing a bleak future.