A long history of buying second-hand hardware

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Spending on security is often a well-guarded secret, and little information is in the public domain regarding the purchase of the 30 armoured personnel carriers for the police. However, government’s obsession with procurement of second-hand hardware to shore up military and police capabilities is well documented.

Just four months ago, the government received two of the expected four refurbished Ukranian Mi-17 military helicopters that will be used for police patrol. Reports in local media stated that the two helicopters, each with a capacity of 40, were refurbished in Prague, Czech Republic, before being handed over to the Kenyan government.

Another such story came to the limelight in 2008 when the Kenya Air Force wanted to modernise its aging fleet of the F-5 fighter jets. With a budget of Sh2.3 billion, Kenya approached the Jordanian Air Force, which was planning to dispose of its own obsolete F-5s. The Sh2.3 billion was for acquisition of the light fighter jets, transportation from Jordan, spare parts and the training of Kenyan pilots.

Not only was the purchase of the jets over-priced but it came at a time the country was just emerging from the 2008 post-election violence that had all but eroded the robust economic growth a year earlier of 7 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

Besides the price that was then seen as exaggerated, the storm was really on the supplier, since Jordan is not the manufacturer of the F-5s. Northrop Corporation manufactures the jets in the US from where Jordan had bought them.

In early 2016, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaiserry and his Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho again flew to Jordan to negotiate the purchase of multi-million equipment for the police.

The identity of the equipment was never disclosed but it is believed some, if not all, of the 30 Chinese APCs came in through Jordan. If so, Kenya was again obtaining its equipment from or through a second party.

In 2014, Kenya added the Balkans country Serbia to its list of suppliers of weaponry, where it spent $29 million (Sh2.9 billion). The country’s long-time source markets are known to have been Spain, Germany, Jordan and Russia. Government also forked out $20 million (about Sh2 billion) to Russia for unspecified arms in the same year.

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