Kenya broke new record in defense spending

Kenya’s military spending last year rose to a new high of Sh109.7 billion to exceed the amount spent by neighbours Tanzania and Uganda combined for the first time, according to a new global report, Allan Olingo reports in the Daily Nation.

Kenya broke new record in defense spending
Armored recovery vehicle of the Kenyan army (Picture source: The Nation)

Nairobi’s spending on its military last year rose by Sh8.2 billion - from Sh101.5 billion in 2017 - pushing its defence bill to the sixth largest in Africa. Data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) shows that the country’s budget dwarfs its peers in the region: Tanzania’s spending last year rose to Sh67.5 billion while Uganda came in third at Sh40.8 billion. “Kenya’s military spending for last year really didn’t increase much as compared to its neighbours. The increase in Uganda could be related to equipment purchases, this is stated in the budget but exactly what it is spent on is unknown,” Dr. Nan Tian, a researcher on the Arms and Military Expenditure Programme at Sippri, told the Nation. The report shows that Kenya has in the past five years continued to top its regional neighbours both in budget size and annual spending growth, causing fear that it could spark an arms race in a volatile region.

Kenya and Uganda’s militaries have been upgrading their firepower, either through purchases or donations, as they lead the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) battle against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. “Equipment was donated, as aid or peacekeeping operations, 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. “In Kenya, there were also the Bell helicopters and AS-350 Fennec helicopters given as aid. These are likely to be used in the fight against Al-Shabaab,” Dr Tian said.

2018 also saw the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) receive 12 French-made Arquus Bastion armoured personnel carriers (APCs) donated by the United States. For the 12 APCs, the government acquired 12 MD5 diesel engines from France, which were delivered in November 2018 to help secure its borders and promote Amisom troops in Somalia.

The country’s arms stockpile, according to Global Firepower, comprises 76 battle tanks, 500 armoured fighting vehicles, 30 self-propelled guns, 25 towed artilleries, three attack helicopters, 150 aircraft, including 34 fighter and attack jets, 19 transporter aircraft, and 80 helicopters. It also has 19 naval assets, including seven patrol vessels.