2022 is the year to beat Covid-19 and steer economies to recovery

Tuesday March 08 2022
A business closed during the lockdown.

A business closed during the lockdown. While the future remains uncertain, we are cautiously optimistic that this year will mark a return to normal economic and market conditions. PHTOTO | AFP


The World is again on the edge over the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as well as the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The past two years have brought many unexpected events that have changed the way we do things. For one, the world is still fighting its way through a health pandemic, which many hoped would be over by now. Second, the pandemic has bred a new set of challenges for individuals and businesses.

Adjustments have been made as a way of surviving the threats of the constantly mutating virus. This has continued to pose a threat to our health and collective well-being rooted in social and economic disruptions. Businesses remain affected by the impact of the pandemic. Although we noted a semblance of stability in the second half of 2021, the outbreak of the highly transmissible Omicron became the curveball that threw the economic recovery off track.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine poses a great economic risk that could hurt post-Covid recovery. This uncertainty has kept the global markets seesawing as investors struggled to judge the economic implications.

Locally, the prolonged impact of the pandemic on businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, was too severe to recover in a calendar year. More would need to be done to ensure these businesses bounce back. Businesses are juggling a slew of challenges, including safety of staff and customers, bolstering capital and liquidity, reorienting operations to meet emerging customer demand, and navigating an uncertain future.

Across East Africa, although recovery remains asymmetrical, infection rates have fallen. But the threat is still alive, with mutation of the virus.


2022 is the year to revisit past goals and turn them into action. The first step is to support economic recovery by solving the problems of 2020 and 2021. For businesses, this means the end of supply chain bottlenecks, improved liquidity, global mobility, and release of pent-up demand as spending power shore.

Banks must lead the rebound. We must put environmental and social governance at the heart of recovery and growth strategies by supporting measures to tackle environmental dangers and accelerate the race to net-zero.

Second, healthcare experts have projected a broader herd immunity driven by the availability of vaccines. While we acknowledge that Covid-19 will likely always exist at some level and become endemic, we expect its risks on human health will be significantly reduced, with a diminishing impact on economies and markets. This year marks that point.

Third, the past two years have been a reminder that digital lies at the heart of creating a new source of value, from digitising products and services extended to customers to business operations trends such as remote work, cyber security resilience, and innovative solutions.

Finally, aligning our aspirations with the government priorities. Kenya is heading to the election. Historically, for businesses, election cycles are a lull period. We can, however, find the sweet spot where we position ourselves to grab any opportunity this event presents.

While the future remains uncertain, we are cautiously optimistic that this year will mark a return to normal economic and market conditions.

Mr Oigara is the KCB Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director