Sauti Trade Insights COVID-19 Bulletin Q4 2021/Q1 2022

Over the past two years, we have seen all sectors of the world economy change at a pace that is unprecedented prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sauti has been capturing the impact of the pandemic on the cross-border traders of East Africa through a series of COVID-19 bulletins to guide cross-border traders, development policy practitioners, and solution designers in the faster-than-ever changing landscape of trade in East Africa.

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 2021 Q4/2022 Q1 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. In the case of Tanzania, cross-border trade increased or remained high compared to the last quarter. However, we found that in every other country, cross-border trade decreased or remained low. Cross-border traders’ destinations are consistently lower than pre-pandemic levels in Rwanda and Kenya, indicating that COVID-19 is likely having persistent effects on the levels of activity within the East African trade sector. 

In our last report, we highlighted the trends that demonstrate that Kenyan women traders are returning to pre-pandemic levels of trade activity at a faster rate than men. This report shows a similar trend in Uganda. While Kenyan women’s participation in cross-border trade has equalized with men, in Uganda cross-border trade destinations made up 31% of market destinations for women – compared to 13% for Uganda’s male traders.

Our unique data insights suggest that the cross-border trade sector in East Africa is slowly but surely making progress in recovering from the worst effects of the pandemic. However, our data suggest a mixed rate of recovery between countries, which emphasizes the need for specialized data insights from each country. Sauti will continue its work on collecting and visualizing unique, disaggregated data to provide post-pandemic insights for research and interventions on the cross-border trade environment in East Africa.

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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