Kenya has been ranked as the third poorest lower-middle-income country globally according to the latest report released by the World Bank titled State of Economic Inclusion Report 2021.
The report revealed that over 40 percent of Kenyans live in extreme poverty, 17 percent higher than Zimbabwe which has previously been regarded as one of the poorest countries in the world.
Zimbabwe has 23 percent of its population living in extreme poverty.
Zambia was listed as the poorest lower-middle-income country with a poverty rate of 61 percent. Nigeria followed closely with 58 percent. Kenya was third while Cote d’Ivoire emerged fourth with 30 percent.
The report showed Kenya’s poverty rate is approximately 10 times higher than in Pakistan and Egypt, which belong to the same lower middle-income class.
The level of poverty has been attributed to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted economic and social milestones in the country.
In 2020, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decreased by 5.7 percent due to many businesses collapsing and thousands of Kenyans losing their jobs.
This was backed up by another report by the World Bank in November 2020 titled Kenya Economic Update: Navigating the Pandemic which noted that more than 2 million Kenyans were rendered jobless due to the pandemic.
This comes despite Kenya being regarded as the economic hub of East Africa as it became the first East African country to achieve middle-income status in 2014.
The World Bank defines a middle-income country as one whose Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is between Ksh100,600 and Ksh1,223,500. Kenya, in 2014, had attained GNI per capita of Ksh116,000 surpassing the threshold mark.
Several factors influence a country attaining a middle-income status.
Among them is long-term political stability which provides a foundation for the citizens to achieve individual growth and ultimately generate collective growth for the State.