Uganda shoot past Kenya and Tanzania to emerge as arms race leader in East Africa

Currently there are 3664 troops from Kenya in Somalia.

Kenya and Tanzania both sharply cut their purchase of military weapons last year with Kenya slashing its spending by half to Sh1.3 billion ($13 million) from Sh2.8 billion in 2016 while Tanzania didn’t make purchases, according to a report released on Monday by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

Uganda on its hand spent $1.8 billion for military purchases in 2017.

Kenya arms purchased a second-hand naval gun, AK-630 30mm, from Montenegro “for modernisation of Jasiri OPV (offshore patrol vessel) among other military orders last year.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) last July also received the last two of the eight Bell Huey II helicopters it had ordered from the US to reinforce its air assault capability against terrorists.

The helicopters, six of which were delivered in December 2016, are mostly used for deployment of troops to battlefields and were donated by the US as aid.

“The second-hand UH-1H were rebuilt to UH-1H-2 before delivery,” Sipri said.

United States also donated six Metal Shark boats to the Kenyan Navy to help fight terrorism last month.

Kenya has in recent years cut back on the number of foot soldiers in Somalia where it had lead an assault against Al Shabaab militia since 2011, after Kenyan soldiers joined forces with the African Mission in Somalia force (AMISON) made up of Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, Sierra Leon troops.

Currently there are 3664 troops from Kenya in Somalia after they pulled out a battalion when 850 Sierra Leonean troops arrived, according to AMISON.

Tanzania’s non-action is a result of austerity measures championed by President John Magufuli who has cut back on expenditure deemed non-essential.

On its hand, the’ pearl of Africa’ has active military presence in Somalia, South Sudan and Congo which might explain its resurgence in military purchases.

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