Kenyan Shilling Plunges To Record Low On Coronavirus Fears

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
Kenyan shilling
The Kenyan shilling has plunged to a record low against the U.S. dollar on coronavirus fears after the COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread in Africa. In this Friday, March 6, 2020 file photo, Kenyan nurses Maggie Ogonga, left, and Lucy Kanyi, right, with names written on their protective clothing so they can be recognized when wearing it, at the infectious disease unit of Kenyatta National Hospital, located at Mbagathi Hospital, in the capital Nairobi, Kenya Friday, March 6, 2020. Image: AP Photo/Khalil Senosi, File

The Kenyan shilling fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar on March 20, dragged down by a high demand for greenbacks amid low inflows as fears mounted over the spread of coronavirus across Africa.

The shilling touched an all-time low of 106.50/70 to the dollar, a mark it last reached on Oct. 12, 2011, before recovering to trade at 106.10/30, according to Rifinitiv data, after the country’s central bank sold some of its dollar reserves.

Traders told Reuters that the central bank came into the market to sell undisclosed amount of greenbacks to control the shilling slide.

“There is a lack of inflows, everybody is holding back onto their dollars,” a second senior currency trader from a commercial bank told Reuters.

Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, has reported seven cases of COVID-19 infections, most of them imported.

It has imposed travel restrictions and other internal measures like closing schools and banning public events to try and stem the spread of the disease, which originated in Wuhan, China in December.

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