Activity in Kenya’s private sector expanded at a faster pace in July as measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak were lifted, data from Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showed on Wednesday.
However, business sentiment weakened as the outlook for activity amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic remained unclear.
According to the Markit Stanbic Bank Kenya PMI’s index, activity jumped to 54.2 in July, from 46.6 in the previous month.
July’s level was the highest since June last year. Below 50 represents a contraction; while 50 indicates no change.
During the period, businesses generated higher sales in July, most notably from the removal of regional border controls. Customer demand was reportedly much greater than in June, leading to a surge in new business that was the most marked for nearly two years.
Export sales were also up steeply as Kenyan businesses saw higher new orders from European countries.
“The removal of county travel restrictions supported output and business sentiment in July,” said Jibran Qureishi, head of Africa Research at Stanbic Bank.
” In any case, firms remain wary of the uncertain outlook and thus future expansion plans are still not firmed up.”
The latest index collaborates Central Bank of Kenya’s July 2020 MPC Market Perceptions Survey that found out that easing of movement restrictions in and out of Nairobi and Mombasa, and further re-opening of key sectors of the economy had elicited optimism, with improved activity particularly in the transport, and hotels and restaurants sectors.
The survey also maintained that uncertainties remain with regard to the increasing rate of COVID-19 infections.