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Kenya’s Military Budget Worth $1.21 Billion Causes Fears of an Arms Race in East Africa

Kenya has sparked fears among security circles that it may trigger an arms race after it tabled a heavy military budget dwarfing its peers in the region.

The country is planning to spend Sh23.7 billion ($237 million) on weapons acquisition for the financial year starting July in what the Treasury calls ‘defence modernisation.’

Budget estimates before Members of Parliament for review shows that Kenya’s military spending will rise from the current year’s Sh109 billion ($1.09 billion) to Sh121 billion ($1.21 billion) in the financial year that starts on July 1st 2019.

 

File image of a KDF soldier during a past operation File image of a KDF soldier during a past operation

Of the Sh121 billion spending proposed for the Kenya Defense Forces, Sh23.7 billion will go into buying military hardware. This is a sharp increase from the Sh17.5 billion ($175 million) spent on the same in the current financial year.

Kenya’s heavy military spending is hinged on the need to defend its territory against the Somali-based Al-Shabaab terrorists who have in the past targeted civilians and security forces in major towns.

However, there are fears that Kenya’s fat military budget may trigger an arms race in the region with Uganda already increasing its arsenal spending. Kenya has in the last five years continued to lead its regional neighbours both in budget size as well as annual spending growth, causing discomfort among its peers.

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Uganda's President Ywoeri Museveni inspects military equipment used by UPDF solders undertaking the mountain warfare. (Strategic Intelligence Service) Uganda’s President Ywoeri Museveni inspects military equipment used by UPDF solders undertaking the mountain warfare. (Strategic Intelligence Service)

Military Expenditure in Uganda increased to $406 million in 2018 from $347 million in 2017, according to trade economics. Military Expenditure in Uganda averaged $226.03 million from 1962 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of $612 million in 2010 and a record low of $11 million in 1962.

Tanzania military spending last year rose to Sh67.25 billion from Sh61.8 billion ($611) million in 2017.

 

Tanzania's President John Magufuli (L) in full military gear. (BigEye) Tanzania’s President John Magufuli (L) in full military gear. (BigEye)

Military expenditure in Tanzania averaged $249.34 million from 1967 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of $665 million in 2018 and a record low of $65.30 million in 1968, according to trade economics.

Since Tanzanian President John Magufuli came to power in 2015, the country has significantly cut down on military spending due to his austerity measures which have seen Tanzania cut back on expenditure deemed non-essential.

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