Kenya’s GDP projected to grow by 4.9% in 2022, says NCBA Economic Outlook report

Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to expand by 4.9 % in 2022, says NCBA Economic Outlook Report; a 0.3 percentage point decline from their initial 5.2% forecast in November 2021.

The downgrade reflects the negative spillover effects of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, an uncertain external landscape, tightening local and external credit markets, domestic election jitters, and climate-related concerns, according to the NCBA Group research.

The research also argues that the third quarter will be most challenging due to a combination of election-induced lull and the full effects of the lingering external shocks especially the knock on effects of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The bank, however, is optimistic about prospects for the final quarter, boosted by prospects of a trend reversal in business investments from the much expected transition dividends.

Rising inflation and interest rates have been a major concern for Kenyans as food and energy costs hit record highs. Elevated inflation is eroding household real income, lowering standards of living and dampening consumption. The growing threat of a cost of living crisis comes against a backdrop of limited fiscal space, suggesting that scope for government intervention is significantly limited.

According to the report, supply chain shocks will be prolonged by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, whose end is still not in sight, with negative ramifications for production and distribution of food and energy and consequently, prices.

“Food inflation is expected to remain in double digits this year, owing to long-term disruptions in global food supply networks, domestic weather shocks, high input costs, and growing transportation and value-addition costs,” says NCBA Group Managing Director John Gachora,

Energy prices will continue to rise with the uncertainty around Russia’s output, OPEC+ production decision and the ability of the US and other energy producers to scale up output. For Kenya, the report argues that the elimination of gasoline subsidies will accelerate inflation towards double digits. The threat of excessive inflation will be exacerbated by a weak shilling, the report adds.

According to the report, NCBA does not foresee any significant post-election disruption owing to Kenya’s demonstrated institutional capability to manage election disputes in a way that limits any disruptions to the economy. However, the report attributes the election anxiety to the ongoing combination of global economic and social challenges.

The report also discusses the shilling’s continued weakness against the dollar, which can be ascribed to the balance of payment shocks from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and capital reversal due to rising global interest rates and a strong US dollar.

“We expect the deteriorating global sovereign credit outlook, along with other highly leveraged and frontier economies, to underpin further capital reversal and diversion away from Kenya in the short term,” says Raphael Agung’, NCBA’s Chief Economist. “So far, domestic interest rates are still significantly low relative to the premium being demanded by investors.”

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