Nairobi’s resilience after Westgate attack

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By Florence Gichoya

Nairobi is a leading economic hub in the East Africa region and its growing economy attracts Kenyan and international investors. Various multi-nationals have set up their offices and small medium enterprises (SMEs) continue to grow and offer employment to many Kenyans.

The city is also a tourist attraction with diverse destinations for visitors for instance: the Nairobinational park is unique in the world, Karura forest where visitors can go for nature trails andBomas of Kenya which is a vibrant cultural village. The city is a melting pot of different cultures, there is plenty of various cuisines from different parts of the world.

Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner in Kenya. According to Moody’s Investment Services and the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism generates 14% of Kenya’s GDP and employs 12% of Kenya’s workforce.

Kenyans were horrified when the terror group Al shabab attackedWestgate shopping mall in Westlands area of Nairobi. The terrorists killed 67 people and injured over 176 innocent Kenyans. This is the worst terror attack on Kenyan soil since the August 7th 1998 US embassy bombing in Nairobi by the Al qaeda where 224 lives were lost.

The attack got many experts and analysts’ worried if the country would experience economic repercussions as a result. Will the country achieve its projected economic growth? Will tourists numbers decrease? Will western countries issue travel advisories?There shouldn’t be any cause of alarm, for instance during the week of the Westgate siege the Kenya shilling remained stable.There are many cities that have bounced back after a terror attack for instance, New York after the twin towers attack in 2011. London has also bounced back after an attack on its underground trains and a double decker bus in 2005.

Westgate shopping mall before the terror attack
Westgate shopping mall before the terror attack

With the exception of United States, the European Union member countries have not issued travel advisories therefore the tourists numbers will not be largely affected.After the attack, Kenya’s tourism cabinet secretary Phyllis Kandieaddressed the media and said that, “This was a very unfortunate, isolated case and it’s being managed.” She further emphasized that the attack was a small hiccup in Kenya’s resilient tourism sector which is expected to have a long term growth.

According to the African Economic Outlook 2013 report which was released after the westgate attack, it projects the Kenyan economy will grow at a rate between 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent this year.

African Development Bank’s Regional Director for the East Africa Resource Centre, Gabriel Negatu said that there will be short term shocks but the economy will be able to withstand these shocks in the long term. He also said that the growth prospects for Kenya are good.Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, projects the country’s economy will grow by 6.1%.

Kenyans are resilient people, after the attack they were united in donating blood and raised over 100 million shillings for those affected. The government also needs to play its part of increasing security surveillance in all areas of the country.

The country has been hit hard but the Kenyan spirit has emerged stronger and Kenya will recover and surprise the critics. Indeed Nairobi is the place to be.

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