Kenya purchases Sh2.6bn weapons from East Europe

Kenya bought a huge consignment of arms last year from Serbia, a Russian ally that was once part of Soviet-bloc nation Yugoslavia, after a lull in purchases of heavy artillery in 2013, a new global report has revealed.The military acquired heavy arms valued at Sh2.6 billion ($29 million) from Serbia as per the report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
The country also forked out $20 million (about Sh1.8 billion) to Russia for arms in the same year.
In 2013, the government spent a paltry Sh91.9 million ($1 million) on weaponry purchased from Germany, the data shows.
The weapons purchased last year included 18 self-propelled guns (B-52 NORA 155mm) and 15 armoured personnel carriers (APC).
“Some of these purchases (in East Africa) may be related to the conflict in Somalia, or to perceived threats resulting from participation in the AU (African Union) mission there,” said the Sipri military expenditure programme director Samuel Perlo-Freeman in a response to the Business Daily queries.
This is the first time Kenya has procured weapons from Serbia away from its long-time source markets of Spain, Germany, Jordan and Russia — which has emerged as the major supplier of arms for neighbouring East African nations.
Serbia is a close political, trade and military ally of the increasingly isolated Russia, whose alleged role in the unfolding Ukrainian crisis has seen it slapped with global sanctions including an arms export embargo.
In October last year, Russian President Vladmir Putin visited Belgrade in the heat of the Ukrainian crisis, where he received the country’s highest honour, “The award of the Order of The Republic of Serbia.”
The Kenyan government does not make public its military purchases, and only Parliament is mandated to scrutinise classified expenditure of the security organs.
The security organs have come under pressure to step up their military might to combat emerging threats particularly from Somali militants involved in terrorism, arms smuggling, human trafficking and drug trafficking.
Kenya, the report shows, acquired Sh19.8 billion worth of new stock of arms in five years between 2010 and last year, compared to Sh919.4 million expenditure between 2005 and 2009 — marking a huge jump in the period — which is the highest in the East Africa.
The report, however, shows that Kenya trails Tanzania and Uganda, which have been on a spending spree in the arms market in terms of the value of their consignments.
In the four–year period to 2014, Uganda sunk KSh68.6 billion ($747 million) in acquiring additional stock largely sourced from Russia while Tanzania’s new stockpile was valued at KSh27.9 billion ($304 million) whose origin was China. –

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