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Economy

Kenya leads E. Africa with Sh109bn military budget

Kenya Defence forces in Somalia
Kenya Defence forces in Somalia. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya’s military spending last year rose to a new high of Sh109.7 billion to stand above those of neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda combined for the first time, according to a newly released global report.

Nairobi spending on its military last year rose by Sh8.2 billion from Sh101.5 billion in 2017, pushing up its defence bill to the sixth largest in Africa

The data released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), an independent global security think tank, shows that the country’s budget dwarfs its peers in the region with Tanzania’s military spending last year rising to Sh67.5 billion, while Uganda came in third in the region at Sh40.8 billion.

“Kenya’s military spending for last year really did not increase much as compared to its neighbours. For Uganda, the increase in Uganda could be related to equipment purchases in the past year, this is stated in the budget but exactly what it is spent on is unknown,” Dr Nan Tian, a researcher on Arms and Military Expenditure Programme at Sippri told Business Daily.

The report shows that Kenya has in the last five years continued to lead its regional neighbours both in budget size and annual spending growth, causing fear that it could spark an arms race in the volatile region.

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The country together with Uganda, have been upgrading their firepower, either through purchases or donations, as they lead the AMISOM efforts against the Al-Shabab militants in Somalia. “There has been equipment donated as aid or peace keeping operations given to Uganda and Kenya last year, with Kampala bagging five bell Huey helicopters worth Sh40 billion. It also received the Bastion APC from France that was leased and financed by the US for AMISOM operations,” Dr Tian said.

“In Kenya, there was also the Bell helicopters and AS-350 Fennec helicopters given as aid. These are likely to be used in the fight against Al- Shabaab.”

Nairobi last year had six aircraft orders, which it expects to be delivered this year.

Of the six that it expected to receive are three C-27J Spartan transport aircraft which are to be delivered by this year. The C-271J aircraft, six turboprops (a jet engine) have been ordered from Italian firm Leonardo. The aircraft were ordered in late June 2018 at a cost of $20 billion, having placed an order late in 2017.

They are expected to replace the ageing fleet of De Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalos.

The biggest drop in the region was South Sudan, whose spending last year dropped to the regions lowest of Sh5.9 billion, from a high of Sh100 billion in 2016, mainly due to the severe economic problems in the country.

The other three of the six orders are M28 Skytruck light transport and passenger plane from Poland, which were ordered in 2016 and are expected in Nairobi later this year.

Last year also saw Kenya Defense Force (KDF) received 12 Bastion Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) that were donated by the United States. For the 12 APC, the government acquired 12 MD5 diesel engines from France which were also delivered in November last year to help secure its borders and promote Amison troops in Somalia.

“We hope that these APCs will support Kenya’s efforts in the fight against extremists, including the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), along the border region. Defeating the threat of IEDs is a critical component of denying violent extremists freedom of movement,” US Defence Attaché and Senior Defence Official Colonel Kevin Balisky said.

The biggest drop in the region was South Sudan, whose spending last year dropped to the regions lowest of Sh5.9 billion, from a high of Sh100 billion in 2016, mainly due to the severe economic problems in the country.

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