The business lobby has called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to gradually re-open the economy.The first step, according to the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, should be to lift the cessation of movement in all counties and the dusk to dawn curfew.And if lifting the curfew and the ban on movement is not tenable, curfew hours should be adjusted from 7pm-5am to 10pm-5am, the KNCCI said in a statement from its president Richard Ngatia on Thursday.It committed itself to complement government efforts in enforcing health protocols and guidelines to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

KNCCI said it will ensure business owners provide protective gear to their workers and guarantee that customers fully comply with social distancing among other health guidelines. Ngatia said business owners should proactively safeguard themselves, their employees and customers.“As the country grapples with the debilitating socio-economic effects of the coronavirus, we appreciate that safety remains a priority. We also appreciate that life has to go on – people have to have a daily meal, income and facilitated to meet basic daily necessities,” Ngatia said.The KNCCI statement came at a time business in Nairobi is slowly returning to normal. Shops are gradually resuming operations.  The 7pm-5am curfew is, however, still in place as well as the order not to enter or leave the Nairobi metropolitan area.

Ngatia appreciated that the curfew and cessation of movement are temporary stop-gap measures but called on Kenyans to be alive to what the new normal should be.“As a chamber, we commit to make sure those in hospitality industries pay the Covid-19 tests for their employees before resuming business. Also, all the establishments must have infrared thermo guns to constantly monitor the temperature of those accessing their facilities.”This is the only way we can keep businesses alive and ensure safety of our clients.” The chamber chief said more than 80 per cent of the population depends on the informal economy.

“If they don’t work, they don’t eat. We call upon President Kenyatta to lift the total ban on the cessation of movement in all counties and the dusk to dawn curfew. Restricted and regulated inter-counties movement with the exception of those providing essential services can also be manageable,” he said.In his address to the nation last week, President Kenyatta said the country cannot be on partial lockdown permanently.Ngatia urged traders to embrace the aggregator business model to ferry goods to complement cargo transporters and limit people movement.

This, he said, will not only supplement government efforts to contain the virus but also ensure the resuscitation of the economy without opening the virus floodgates and triggering a spike.The aggregator business model is about a company connecting with different goods/service providers to sell the same under its own brand. As the aggregator company builds a brand, the goods/services provided have to be in uniform quality and price.The aggregators provide marketing and customers to the goods/service providers and these providers give their goods/services to the aggregator sites. However, the aggregator sites sell these goods/services under their own brand, hence maintaining the brand image.