September 29, 2017 / 1:56 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Weaker industry and agriculture slow Kenyan economy in second quarter

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NAIROBI, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Kenya’s economy grew more slowly in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2016 due to a weaker performance in agriculture, manufacturing and financial services, the statistics office said on Friday.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) said the economy expanded by 5.0 percent year-on-year in the second quarter compared with 6.3 percent in the same period in 2016. It had expanded by 4.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017.

The KNBS said in its statement that agriculture contracted by 1.7 percent from growth of 7.1 percent a year earlier, while accommodation and food services - which includes tourism - grew by 13.4 percent, down from 15.8 percent in the previous year.

“Performance of the agriculture sector was exacerbated by widespread drought experienced during the fourth quarter of 2016 and somewhat suppressed long rains in 2017 that considerably affected crop production and rearing of animals,” it said.

“This led to a notable slowdown in the manufacture of food as agro-processing was negatively affected by constrained supply of food products. Electricity generation was also greatly affected by reduced rains thereby necessitating increased use of thermal sources.”

Tourism, along with tea, horticulture and remittances, are Kenya’s leading sources of foreign exchange.

Growth in the transport sector rose to 8.2 percent in the quarter under review from 7.1 percent in the same quarter of 2016, KNBS said, while the financial sector expansion slowed to 4.3 percent from 8.1 percent.

“Growth in Financial Intermediation was also dampened by the effect of continued slow uptake of credit,” KNBS said.

Kenya’s current account deficit widened to 134.8 billion shillings in the quarter under review from a deficit of 114.1 billion shillings in the second quarter of 2016, the statistics office said.

Earlier this month, the Finance Ministry said it had lowered its 2017 economic growth forecast to 5.5 percent from 5.9 percent due to drought and political uncertainty.

Kenya is due to hold a re-rerun of its presidential election on Oct. 26 after the Supreme Court annulled the Aug. 8 election citing irregularities and ordered a fresh vote within 60 days.

The vote will again pit opposition leader Raila Odinga against President Uhuru Kenyatta.

However, Odinga has accused the election commission of being a puppet of Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee party and said he would not participate in the re-run if election officials are not sacked and prosecuted.

On Thursday Odinga renewed his call for marches countrywide on Mondays and Fridays to pressure for the removal of the officials and also to protest against plans to amend election laws.

Reporting by George Obulutsa Graphic by Jeremy Gaunt Editing by Gareth Jones

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