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Kenya's Sh100b annual defence budget top in East Africa

By Frankline Sunday | June 17th 2021

Kenya spent Sh119.2 billion on defence last year making it the highest military expenditure in East Africa.

This is according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) that places Kenya’s spending seventh place overall in Africa, where the continent spent a combined Sh4.6 trillion on their armed forces.

“Military spending in Sub-Saharan Africa was Sh1.9 trillion in 2020, 3.4 per cent higher than in 2009 but 13 per cent lower than in 2011,” said the institute in its report. 

Graphics: The Standard

According to the think-tank, the increase in military spending last year was the first in the region since 2014, with most countries across the globe increasing their expenditure despite a fall in gross domestic output due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Increases in defence budgets in many African countries are largely attributed to prolonged conflicts where governments are fighting insurgents.

“At Sh344 billion, South Africa’s military expenditure was the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020,” the report said.

“Nigeria, the second-largest spender, allocated Sh280 billion to its military, a 29 per cent increase compared to 2019.”

Nigeria’s spike in expenditure has been attributed to the fight against Boko Haram and other Islamist extremist groups that have persisted in the country over the past decade.

Similarly, in Uganda where the country is fighting an insurgency by the Allied Democratic Forces, defence spending rose by 46 per cent in 2020 to Sh106 billion following a spending increase of 53 per cent the previous year. 

The Sipri index uses data from official budget documents reported by national governments or economic data based on the same.

The data includes expenditure on armed forces, peacekeeping forces, defence ministries and other security agencies engaged in defence projects. 

It also includes expenditure on personnel such as salaries for military and civil personnel, pensions and other social services, as well as on operations and maintenance.

According to the report, Kenya has spent a total of Sh569 billion on its military since 2016, standing at an average Sh100 billion annually. 

In the 2021-22 Budget presented recently by the National Treasury, the Ministry of Interior has been allocated Sh138 billion, an increase from Sh132 billion in the current year.

The Defence ministry, on the other hand, has been allocated Sh119 billion, up from Sh122 billion this year.

Overall the United States, China, India, Russia and the United Kingdom emerged as the top global spenders at Sh83 trillion, Sh27 trillion, Sh7.8 trillion, Sh6.6 trillion and Sh6.3 trillion respectively.

Total military expenditure in the world last year stood at Sh213 trillion, a record since 1988 when the Sipri index began compiling the index.

“The global military burden - world military expenditure as a share of global GDP - rose by 0.2 per cent in 2020 to 2.4 per cent,” said the report.

“This increase was large because most countries in the world experienced severe economic downturns in 2020 related to the Covid-19 pandemic, while military expenditure continued to rise overall.”  

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