The silver lining in Covid-19 pandemic

As the effects of Covid-19 remain dire in the Kenyan economy, a few sectors and companies are thriving amid the crisis, reporting improved revenue.

The containment measures issued by the government including social distancing, ban on gatherings and dusk-to-dawn curfew as well as restriction on operations of businesses such as bars and restaurants have hit the economy hard.

However, some businesses are experiencing an uptick as they position themselves to ensure that their customers get their goods and services conveniently despite the restrictive measures such as the stay-at-home directive.

Delivery companies, for instance, have reported an increase in sales as online shopping picks up with people placing orders for a diverse range of goods including groceries.

Glovo recently announced a 30 percent increase in grocery deliveries in March compared to previous month. Shoppers, the platform said, view delivery firm as safer alternatives to physically shopping in stores.

“Orders in supermarkets, over the counter pharmacy and drinks have increased week-on- week,” Glovo said in a note to the Business Daily.

And it has had to adjust to accommodate the increased orders. Its operating hours now start from 7am to 10pm daily, making Glovo and other delivery firms an essential cog in the pandemic economy when the 7pm to 5am curfew takes effect.

They have been able to extend their working hours thanks to their classification as essential service providers along side, dealers and distributors of farm produce, health workers and police officers.

“Like any other business we have been affected. We are seeing a rush of orders closer to 6pm, but a slight decline thereafter because some of the restaurants close early,” the company said.

But it is not just the increased working hours that delivery firms are taking take advantage of to increase their revenue. They have also become more innovative.

They have rolled out new features aimed at opening up more delivery windows as demand rises.

Glovo has introduced signature-less delivery, meaning customers are no longer required to sign for orders upon delivery. “No contact” delivery drop-offs allow customers to request that orders be dropped at a particular place of their choosing.

Additionally, to limit exposure given that the government has warned that cash could transmit the deadly respiratory virus, the firm has taken most of its payments cashless. Today it advocates for payments through debit or credit cards, or mobile money.

Food delivery firm Uber Eats is also encouraging contactless delivery. It recently added a new feature to its app where at checkout, eaters can select “leave at door” and include special instructions like “leave in lobby”.

The app prompts eaters to make use of the option, while encouraging that they consider tipping delivery riders for making their day just a little easier.

“We are also recommending restaurants on the app to have signposted designated waiting areas for delivery drivers to collect orders, limiting interaction between themselves and restaurant personnel,” Uber Eats stated.

This rise in demand and business is not unique to Glovo and Uber Eats.

MultiChoice Group, the parent company of DStv, GOtv and Showmax entertainment platforms, the disruptions due to the current stay-at-home directives has seen the company add six news channels that customers can live stream on Showmax.

This is besides six extra channels now available on all DStv packages and two new education platforms on DStv — EDU TV and Mindset Pop.

“There have been disruptions to people going to work as well as disruptions to the school calendars,” MultiChoice Kenya Managing Director, Nancy Matimu told the Business Daily in a statement.

“We are working to give you access to the best available educational content, to help keep young minds stimulated and engaged as well as provide customers with broad access to credible information at this time, by making news channels more widely available,” added the statement.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed company targets higher subscription growth from 18.9 million households and subscription revenue of Sh120.38 billion (R21.2 billion) recorded as at September, 30 2019 through the additions that come at a higher cost.

“In the prevailing circumstances, providing world-class service to our customers comes at a significant cost to us, which includes absorbing these costs to avoid passing this on to our customers and this remains the case,” she said.

But it is not only the big corporates that are experiencing an uptick. Michael Otieno of Shangtao Movie store in Ongata Rongai said business shoot up in the first week of curfew.

Currently, the business is registering between Sh200 to Sh300 increase in sales per day, compared to the pre-Convis-19 days.

Safaricom has also announced a 70 percent surge in data usage and 40 percent traffic jump as customers stay at home and take solace in online movies and social media.

The telecommunication operator said the data usage on mobile and fixed home internet that among others supports entertainment streaming sites such as YouTube and Netflix, had reached 2.34 petabytes, translating to five million hours of continuous viewing.

In the manufacturing sector, as the virus lead to shutdown of other industries, the textiles sector has seen increased business as some firms such as Rift Valley Textiles, Rivatex seek to provide well priced quality masks.

Rivatex is particularly rushing to take the lead in supplying the country with the protective equipment to fight the deadly coronavirus that was declared a global pandemic by World Health Organisation (WHO) last month.

This is barely less than a year since President Uhuru Kenyatta relaunched the once-struggling textile factory in Eldoret town last June.

Rivatex manufacturers garments such as bed sheets for Kenya Medical supplies Authority (Kemsa) and linen for hospitals.

Kitui County Textile Centre (Kicotec) also recently gained recognition of WHO over mass production of surgical masks.

The factory that had previously specialised in the production of gardening clothes, uniforms, mats and napkins, is now producing 30,000 surgical masks a day, matching the high industry standards of the N95 respirators.

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