Kenya: How businesses are responding to COVID-19 pandemic

Kenya has reported the first three cases of coronavirus. Different businesses sectors have responded to support efforts to contain and manage the spread of the virus. The insurance industry association has said that its members will cover coronavirus-related cause though pandemics are usually exempted from cover. In the meantime, a govt. regulatory agency has warned manufacturers and retailers against hiking the prices of sanitary products helpful in curbing the spread of the virus. 

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Article
23 March 2020

Airtel offers free internet access to learning website to enable students continue studying

Author: Nancy Agutu, The Star (Kenya)

"Covid-19: Airtel offers free internet access to learning website"

Airtel Kenya will offer free internet access on the Longhorn e-learning platform to enable students to continue studying. The service will be available until schools reopen. "...this will be with an aim to empower the students using its technology and ensuring that students remain positively engaged in their learning process," MD, Prasanta Das Sarma said.  "This will help them continue learning while out of school, and open up a new world of opportunities for their future," Sarma said that a good number of students are already using the portal since its launch two days ago. The material can also be accessed on SMS, Android and Windows mobile platforms. On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta called on businesses to help Kenyans cope during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Article
23 March 2020

Kenya:Govt. official urges flower farms to avert mass layoffs of casual workers to avoid chaos and social disorder

Author: George Murage, The Star (Kenya)

"Flower farm workers to miss salaries over Covid-19 crisis"

Naivasha-based flower farms might not be able to pay salaries in the coming months if the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic persists...

Already, the sector has sent more than 2,000 workers on a two-week paid leave by following the collapse of the Dutch auction which takes over 50 per cent of exports from the country. In the last week, some flower farms have resorted to destroying flowers worth millions of shillings every day as the product cannot reach the EU market...

Naivashasubcounty commissioner Mathioya Mbogo said the sector was very critical to the country’s economy and the national government would release support measures. Mathioya said that he and other senior government officers had visited the affected farms and promised them support. “We have had several meetings with the farmers and assured them of government support as they support hundreds of families both directly and indirectly,” Mathioya said. He said Naivasha was home to tens of flower farms and warned that if the workers were sent home, there could be social disorder and a rise in crime. Mathioya said they had asked the farms not to sack their workers. “We hope that this pandemic will be contained as job losses in this town could lead to chaos and the farmers have agreed not to lay off their workers,” he said...

Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture and Allied Workers Union secretary general David Omulama said more than 15 farms had already sent some of their workers home. "In most cases, the employers had agreed to pay the workers their salaries in the period that they would be away as the monitor the situation," Omulama said.

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Article
19 March 2020

Longhorn publishers opens free portal for quarantined learners

Author: Kiplagat Edwin. The EastAfrican (Kenya)

"Book publisher Longhorn opens free portal for quarantined learners"

With a majority of schools in Kenya shut as part of the measures to limit the potential spread of coronavirus, Longhorn, a publishing firm, has launched a free learning portal for quarantined primary and secondary schoolchildren.In a statement on Wednesday, Longhorn Publishers said it had provided access to its curriculum platform to support continued learning for the period that schools will remain closed.

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Article
16 March 2020

Coronavirus: Clean Shelf supermarket suspends employee for adjusting sanitiser prices

Author: Amina Wako, Nairobi News (Kenya)

"Coronavirus: Clean Shelf supermarket suspends employee for adjusting sanitiser prices"

Clean Shelf supermarket has blamed one of its staff members for the adjustment of prices on the Tropikal hand sanitisers at their Ruaka Branch. Panicky Kenyans rushed to supermarkets across the country and cleared sanitisers from the shelves as soon as the government announced the first Coronavirus patient in the country on Friday.

“It has come to our attention that one of our staff members without consultation and irresponsibly severally adjusted the price of Tropikal hand sanitisers in our Ruaka Branch,” the statement on their twitter handle read in part. The supermarket termed it as an individual error and asked those who purchased the product at the hiked price to visit their Ruaka branch for a full refund. The statement further indicated that disciplinary action has already been taken against the unnamed employee.

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Article
16 March 2020

Govt. agency orders Cleanshelf Supermarkets to refund customers for 'unconscionably adjusting' price for hand sanitisers

Author: Competition Authority of Kenya

"Press Release"

The Competition Authority of Kenya...has issued remedial orders to Cleanshelf Supermarkets after investigations determined that the retailer has unconscionably adjusted the prices of Tropical Brand Hand Sanitisers....[in contravention of the law].

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Article
16 March 2020

Govt. agency warns businesses against hiking prices of sanitary products in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Author: Wainaina Wambu, Standard Digital (Kenya)

"CAK warns firms as prices of sanitary products shoot up"

Manufacturers and retailers capitalising on the coronavirus pandemic to hike prices risk hefty fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual turnover, the competition watchdog has warned. The warning came amid a reported price increase of almost 700 per cent for key items used for protection against the spread of the virus. A spot check by The Standard showed that surgical masks are retailing at Sh3,000 a pack in pharmacies, with a number of outlets running out of stock. A box of surgical masks previously cost around Sh350...

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) said it was aware of “collusive” plans by retailers and manufacturers to raise prices or hoard various consumer goods to shore up their prices. “It has come to the attention of the authority that following a pronouncement by the government of a confirmed coronavirus (Covid-19) case, some manufacturers and retailers are contemplating collusive increases of prices and, or hoarding with the intention of subsequently increasing prices of various consumer goods,” said CAK Director General Wang’ombe Kariuki. He said the action by the firms contravened the Competition Authority Act, which attracts a penalty of up to 10 per cent of the respective annual turnover of the manufacturers and retailers in question.

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Article
16 March 2020

Kenya: Insurance association says members will cover COVID-19-related healthcare though pandemics excluded from insurance cover

Author: Wachira Mwangi, Daily Nation (Kenya)

"Insurance firms agree to cover coronavirus costs"

The Insurance Regulatory Authority on Friday said insurance firms will cover all policy holders affected by the new coronavirus. Commissioner of Insurance Godfrey Kiptum said the agency was in talks with health insurers and they agreed to cover medical costs of coronavirus victims in the country. Standard medical insurance typically excludes epidemics and pandemics...

The Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI) had earlier said the classification of the disease as pandemic indicates that victims will settle their own bills if cases are reported in Kenya. “If there was to be a major attack, then all insurance companies would close shop. The claims will wipe the insurers out completely. That is why such exclusions are put in insurance policies,” said Tom Gichuhi, the AKI chief executive.

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Article
16 March 2020

Safaricom waives mobile money transaction fees to increase use of cashless payment and reduce Covid-19 transmission

Author: Paul Wafula, Daily Nation (Kenya)

"Safaricom waives M-Pesa fees"

Safaricom has become the first player in the mobile money business to cut prices following a request from President Uhuru Kenyatta. On Sunday, Mr Kenyatta asked banks and mobile money providers to consider reducing the cost of transactions to allow customers use cashless modes of payment as part of measures to stop transmission of Covid-19, widely known as new coronavirus...

This comes as countries such as China moved to disinfect banknotes with ultraviolet light, even though the World Health Organisation said that it still doesn't know how long the virus survives on objects such as money. South Korea recently said it was taking all banknotes out of circulation and destroying some of them in order to curb spread of the virus. The spotlight now shifts to banks and other telecommunications firms to follow suit.

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