The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the purchase plan public last year, saying it had earmarked the property in the posh resort city of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world and Economist Intelligence Unit in 2016 ranked Geneva as the fourth most expensive city in the world, partly based on the higher cost of rents.
Data from Treasury tabled at the National Assembly in June shows purchase of chancery and ambassador’s residence in Geneva has been allocated Sh820 million ($8.2 million) for the year starting July on top of the Sh1 billion ($10 million) allocated for fiscal period ending in June, bringing the total cost at Sh1.8 billion ($180 million).
In 2017, Foreign Affairs said it needed Sh6 billion ($60 million) for the purchase of the Geneva property in a deal that was to be paid in phases. It is not yet clear whether Kenya opted for a smaller property or the Sh1.2 billion ($120 million) to be spent is part of the phased payment.
The cost of servicing and maintaining the property in the long term is also expected to be shouldered by Kenyan taxpayers.
Parliament had earlier questioned the deal’s pricing, arguing that it was ill-advised coming at a time of pressing national issues and austerity measures.
The ministry, however, insisted the decision to buy the property was informed by the need to cut the cost of renting buildings in the diplomatic hub that hosts Europe’s UN headquarters and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
For the past four decades, Kenya’s diplomatic mission in Geneva has rented space costing taxpayers Sh4 billion ($40 million), according to ministry officials who told members of Parliament Kenya was coughing an annual rent Sh140 million ($1.4 million) in Switzerland.