Kenya sinks millions of dollars abroad purchasing prime properties to maintain coveted diplomatic image

High recurrent cost which has steadily risen over the past four years has eaten into the ministry’s budget hampering efforts to open new missions and trade commission offices which are crucial for expanding Kenya’s diplomatic presence.

 

The ministry of foreign affairs in January also acquired a $200 million office space in New York to similarly house its consulate and the country’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

The ministry of Foreign Affairs made the purchase public through documents tabled in Parliament last week.

“The purchase of office space in New York has been concluded at a cost of Sh2 billion,” the ministry said.

The purchases are part of a plan that will see Kenya spend more than $ 690 million over the next three years to buy properties in different world capitals to house its diplomats and embassies.

The ministry has termed the the Geneva purchase not only necessary but economical in the long run.

“The total negotiated cost of the project is $600 million, which is to be funded in phases starting with Sh4 billion in the first year 2017/18,” documents submitted to Parliament say.

“We have done a cost-benefit analysis that informed this proposed purchase. Geneva is a strategic multilateral station where our operations are long-term,” Margaret Gachuru, the head of asset management in the ministry argued.

Kenya's former Trade minister Dr.Mukhisa Kituyi  currently serves as UNCTAD secretary-general and spends most of his time in Switerland.

Early this year the ministry disclosed it would be active in the property market abroad through purchase of chanceries, ambassadors’ residences and staff houses to cut down on rent costs.

It will spend $170 million in the year starting July, $300 million in 2018 and $220 million in the year ending June 2020. This current year they will spend $7.71 million.

High recurrent cost which has steadily risen over the years has eaten into the ministry’s budget hampering efforts to open new missions and trade commission offices  which are crucial for expanding Kenya’s diplomatic presence.

“Some of the challenges faced during implementation of the budget (2016/17) include the high cost of renting chanceries and staff residence in Kenyan missions abroad,” Amina Mohamed, Foreign Affairs secretary, said in the 2017/18 budget estimates.

Documents earlier tabled in Parliament show rents paid by foreign missions now account for a fifth of the ministry’s recurrent budget of Sh17.9 billion or Sh3.58 billion.

The ministry reckons that Kenya, which is styling itself as a regional diplomatic hub, has an image to keep in global circles and this comes at a cost.

“Our chancery (the embassy’s office) and ambassador’s residence have to be in a diplomatic enclave to enjoy global diplomatic security and status,” Dr. Gachuru said.

Kenya has 49 embassies and high commissions abroad alongside 27 consulates which protects Kenyans interests in foreign lands.

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