Sauti Trade Insights COVID-19 Bulletin Q1/Q2 2022

The global COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the world economy in the past two years. Cross-border and domestic trade in East Africa has seen significant volatility during this time, in part owing to its interconnectedness and long supply chains. Sauti’s COVID-19 Bulletins aim to capture the impact of the pandemic on the traders of East Africa to help cross-border traders, development policy practitioners, and solution designers navigate the new economic contours of the sector. 

This COVID-19 bulletin aims to illustrate the changing state of trade in East Africa. Leveraging Sauti’s East Africa’s embeddedness with traders, we present the Q1 2022 and Q2 2022 behavioral and user data from our regional network of trade and market information platforms.  

For policymakers, solution designers, and researchers, user interactions with our platforms provide us with a unique and far-reaching perspective into the business behavior of traders in the East African community. When combined with Sauti’s demographic survey data, we have unprecedented opportunities for higher frequency disaggregated analytics and drill-downs to identify specific opportunities for the trade facilitating community.

This bulletin includes data on Kenyan, Rwandan, Tanzanian, and Ugandan traders. Although an increase was noted between Q1 and Q2 of 2022, cross-border trading continues to stay low in Kenya in comparison to previous years. In addition, we found that in every other country, cross-border trade decreased between Q1 and Q2, indicating that COVID-19 is likely having persistent effects on the levels of activity within the East African trade sector. 

Kenyan domestic trade by Kenyan traders decreased by 6.5pp between the first and second quarters of 2022. Kenyan traders (8.7%) showed a strong preference to buy and sell commodities in Ugandan markets with a 3.1pp increase. This could be attributed to the current hike in commodity prices due to the impending August 2022 elections in Kenya.

With a similar trend in our last report, Kenyan female and male traders are returning to pre-pandemic levels of trade activity at a relatively equalized rate with 8pp and 7pp increase respectively between the quarters. However, in contrast to the last report, Ugandan women’s participation in cross-border trade has decreased by 5.6pp between Q1 and Q2 of 2022.

As we did in the previous reports, we also have made our data available through Sauti’s Trade Insights data portal. The Trade Insights data portal provides an innovative resource for supporting research, solution designs, and near real-time context mapping. This report also uses our improved data weighting methodology to more accurately represent the empirical behavioral patterns of East Africa’s cross-border traders. See the technical detail section for links to explore the data.

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