As Inflation Rises, Kenyan Government Increases Minimum Wage

A cushioning mechanism it is, as Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta announces a 12% increase in the minimum wage. This is in a bid to offset the already mounting cost of living.

The announcement that was made on Sunday (May 1), comes a few months ahead of the East African country’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

In April, inflation hit a seven month high in the country. Official figures stated that the main proponents were soaring food and fuel prices.

The 12% increase, raises the minimum monthly wage from 13,500 Kenyan shillings (about 110.5 euros / 116 dollars) to 15,120 shillings (124 euros / 130 dollars).

This improvement, however, is far beneath the threshold demand of a 24% increase demanded by the main trade union organization, which is the Central Organization of Trade Unions – Kenya (COTU).

President Kenyatta blamed Kenya’s high cost of living on factors such as the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

The high cost of living is due to factors “beyond my control, such as the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict”, He said.

He also blamed his critics – including Deputy President William Ruto – for the government’s economic woes ahead of crucial general elections in August.

Mr. Kenyatta cannot run for re-election after two terms but he has already chosen his desired successor in Raila Odinga, a former rival.

The presidential election is set for 9th August.

Kenya’s finance minister unveiled a $28 billion budget last month aimed at turning around the economy amid high unemployment after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenyans are facing rising prices for necessities such as food and fuel, a situation exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and droughts affecting several parts of the country.

Inflation hit a seven-month high of 6.47% in April, up from 5.56% in March and 5.76% in April last year, according to the national statistics office.