Kenyan Tech Companies Feel Coronavirus Knocks
Kevin Namunwa  |  Aug 19, 2020

While most industries have felt the knocks of the pandemic, technology firms have been some of the biggest gainers during the pandemic.

Video conferencing apps, delivery apps, and e-learning apps have all been on growth in popularity and use.

However, the tech world has also received its fair share of economic knocks occasioned by the pandemic, including leading to the near crumble of some players in the segment.

One of the most prominent of the international disrupters being disrupted was AirBnB.

With travel on hold in most countries, the service which had become the go-to alternative for the hotel segment had to face the same reality. As such, the firm laid off 25% of its workforce or 1,900 employees to cut costs as the company re-evaluated its strategy.

Similarly, online travel company TripAdvisor cut its workforce by 25%, closed some of its offices, and reduced salaries and work hours of most employees as a result of near-zero bookings across restaurants and hotels.

The situation is no different in the local sector as well. Companies in the travel and hotel tech industry have also suffered effects of the pandemic on the country’s economy.

Local app e-ticketing start-up Buupass, which has been among the services hailed for creating sanity in the chaotic local road transport industry was hit hard. Buupass is famous for SGR bookings and long distance travelling which was cut short after the government imposed a nationwide curfew and locked down some counties.

Taxi-hailing firm Uber laid off 3,700 employees and shut 45 offices as the lockdowns across major towns and cities in the world as well as curfews meant reduced demand for the services. The firm laid off 25 per cent of its workforce since the beginning of the pandemic to save $1 billion in costs.

Locally, the e-hailing apps including Uber, Bolt and Little have had to venture into alternative services from courier services to grocery delivery as an alternative revenue stream as more people operate from home.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ Survey on Socio-Economic Impact of Covid-19 on Households report showed that 26.9 per cent of respondents reported they travelled less often. Respondents who travelled less often but with more difficulty were 17.4 per cent.