Westgate Mall terror attack expected to impact Kenyan market - CNBC Africa

Westgate Mall terror attack expected to impact Kenyan market

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Westgate Mall terror attack expected to impact Kenyan market

“It’s basically a black Monday in Kenya, we are all in shock. We do expect the market to be hit tremendously. It’s already spiralling down and this will just knock it to the floor,” Moses Waireri, head of research at investments advisory firm, Sterling Capital, told CNBC Africa on Monday.

Al-Shabaab, an extension of the global militant Islamist organisation Al-Qaeda, attacked Westgate Shopping mall, upscale shopping centre located in the business hub of Nairobi on Saturday. 

A group of roughly 10 to 15 gunmen entered the mall and opened gunfire, killing a total of 69 people and injuring over 200. An unknown number of hostages are still being held by the group.

The mall, which is Israeli owned, is said to attract a diverse range of people from top businessmen, expatriates as well as the majority of the middle class living in Nairobi.

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The attack is to allegedly avenge Kenya's October 2011 military campaign, where the Kenyan military marched to the country's southern border in an attempt to dislodge Al-Shabaab forces from Somali port city. 

The militant group were defeated and have since launched terror attacks throughout Kenya. The Westgate mall attack has been the largest strike so far.

The fact that they have hostages is the differentiating factor compared to previous Al- Shabaab attacks. The longer it goes on, the more nervous the country becomes,” explained Waireri.

While the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) was on a bullish run last Friday, the incident, he believes, may cause foreign investors to sell off their investments and prompt the NSE to spiral downward.

“The Kenyan market will not trade as normal today due to special circumstances. We'll have to wait and see what foreign investors take out of this. Hopefully everything will continue as normal,” said Waireri.

In addition, tourism, Kenya’s second biggest gross domestic product contributor (GDP), is expected to take a hit, as Kenyan travel advisories and bans may be issued by developed countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

However, Waireri is hopeful that Kenyan security forces will be able to contain the situation as fast as possible, especially with the support of Israeli forces and the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team.

“The experience that these foreign forces bring into the Kenyan team will ensure this episode will be completed and should end soon,” he concluded.

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