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The SGR Trick: Which was all based on, if Beijing blessed Nairobi!

I will be part of the delegation to accompany the President to the Asian country next week. The new SGR line will extend from Naivasha, Narok, Bomet, Sondu and finally Kisumu” – Raila Odinga on the 20th April 2019

We are now surely living in interesting days. Not enough that the “opposition” leader and Building Bridges Initiative leader Raila Odinga was stringing along with President Uhuru Kenyatta to Beijing and the Belt and Road Initiative Summit in Beijing this week. It was a grand summit with all the partners who are cooperating with the Chinese on their mission. Clearly, the Kenyan government officials had to go. As they have substantial investments, loans and projects already done in Kenya.

This being the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mombasa to Nairobi, now the second extension is to Naivasha. Clearly, that is not as golden as getting it to Kisumu. Then it would be a better deal to get the railway from Uganda connected too. The reason why President Museveni even took the ride in Kenya during the last month or so. Therefore, the trip to China now, seems abysmal. Even if they get to sell avocados. It is at least something.

I will first show you the two reports from the day before the Kenyan Officials flew to Beijing as they were scheduled to meet and negotiate a loan for an extension of the SGR to Kisumu. Alas, that has clearly not gone to plan. That is why I will show what one media house in Kenya wrote today and what the State House claims after failing.

CTGN reported on the 23rd April 2019:

Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta will today travel to China to secure a Sh368 billion loan for the extension of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)” (Christine Maema – ‘Kenya’s President travels to China to secure Sh368b SGR loan’ 23.04.2019, link: https://africa.cgtn.com/2019/04/23/kenyas-president-travels-to-china-to-secure-sh368b-sgr-loan/).

Standard Media on the same day:

President Uhuru Kenyatta will today travel to China to negotiate a Sh368 loan billion for extension of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), a State House official has confirmed. Uhuru will be flanked by African Union’s High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, Raila Odinga” (Moses Nyamori – ‘ Uhuru leaves for China to secure Sh368bn loan for SGR extension’ 23.04.2019, link: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001322214/uhuru-goes-to-china-for-more-loans).

Citizen Kenya reports today:

However, there was no word from the Kenya – China talks on the Naivasha – Kisumu SGR extension. Instead, Kenya signed an operation and maintenance service agreement for the Nairobi to Naivasha segment of the SGR. “.. the most important investment right now is to connect the SGR to Naivasha MGR so that come August there will be seamless connectivity,” CS Macharia said, the government choosing to hold its head high despite not achieving the much sought after Ksh.368billion” (Citizen Kenya – ‘ SGR construction to end in Naivasha as China loan bid flops’ 27.04.2019, link: https://citizentv.co.ke/news/sgr-construction-to-end-in-naivasha-as-china-loan-bid-flops-242884/).

State House Press Statement:

It is important to note that the question of funding for the extension of the Standard Guage Railway from Naivasha to Kisumu was not on the agenda of the meeting between the two President’s. It therefore follows that the President cannot be said to be returning home empty handed for something he did not request. It further goes without saying that these headlines are are not only factually incorrect, they are misleading and extremely damaging to the reputation of the People and the Government of the Republic of Kenya. Whilst making it clear that the Government of Kenya did not discuss any funding proposals for the extension of the SGR at this meeting, it is very critical to state at this point that the SGR project is a regional project and the complexities in negotiating its completion involve several countries and securing financing for its completion could take several years of intricate negotiations” (State House – Press Statement, 27.04.2019).

First be first, the delegation from Kenya was a bit to excited and well prepared to come home with a giant loan. To a state and republic already high on the old loans. Where the SGR is already a losing money project and it is well established. As well, as the levels of loans compared to the budgets are already hitting the economy too. Therefore, that they were so pleased to travel for more loans is a crazy idea, but in the sphere of Jubilee, its just another Tuesday.

Secondly, the media showed and mirrored the events before, where both Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta was preparing for the loans. Kenyatta even had visit from Museveni to ensure his support and willingness to add the stakes for an extension. Because, that would mean, the same sort of deal and arrangement could be done with Kampala as well. Alas, the Northern Corridor Integration Projects with the SGR between the Republic is surely on hold. As the Republics are not capable or able to configure the stakes, the leverage or collateral for the Chinese to accept the conditions of a possible loan.

Third, when the State House comes out with a Press Release like today. It is sort of thinking that people have the memory of a gold-fish. Because, the statements of Odinga before leaving. Was all praising and willing to build a Industrial Zone in Kisumu in combination of the extended SGR. However, that dream is gone in the wind. The Jubilee and the President couldn’t fix another giant loan for the state to eat. Clearly, he missed the mark. Even if the State House claims he never intended to get it. Why have the meeting and greeting with Museveni before and later travel with a giddy Odinga? That doesn’t make sense to me? Can someone explain that to me, I don’t speak the language of gibberish.

We know there is more than what they say. The State House is trying to deflect it, surely soon Odinga is defending the State House. As the loyal subject he has become. He was planning not only to build a bridge, but also be a part of the belt and road initiative too. That would mean a double pay-off. Kenyatta nevertheless, will surely find another scheme to trick money to his businesses. We are just awaiting it.

The SGR Trick have been the same all along, awaiting the blessing and the nod from Beijing. Hopefully the Jubilee follows this old Chinese Proverb: “Timely return of a loan makes it easier to borrow a second time”.

If not, they might loose more than the good favours and possible loans from them. They might even loose, whatever collateral they made in previous engagement. Also, make it twice as harder to get more loans. Peace.

Nairobi City County: Update on Suspected Cholera Outbreak in the Nairobi Hospital (16.04.2019)

Opinion: Threat of a closure of the Dadaab Refugee Camp – Is it a bargaining chip?

This is not the first time the Kenyan Government have claimed they want to close the Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camp. That has been done before, they did this in May and June 2016. Even the Federal Republic of Somalia was worried at one point, that the refugees would suddenly return after the notification of the closure back then. Suddenly late in August 2016, the U.S. Government suddenly dropped more money on the Refugee Camps. Than, it became silence and no problem hosting them. The same happen with the European Union in 2017 and certainly, the same government hopes in happens in 2019. However, don’t be surprised, if someone get hooked on the bait.

Because in August 2016, the US Administration stated this:

WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, August 23, 2016 – Today, Secretary of State John Kerry announced in Nairobi that the United States is providing more than $146 million in additional U.S. humanitarian assistance to support refugees, voluntary returnees, and drought victims in Kenya and Somalia. This new funding includes a significant new contribution of more than $59 million for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to protect and assist refugees in Kenya, and support voluntary refugee returns to Somalia. In addition, the funding includes new humanitarian assistance of more than $87 million in food and non-food support for refugees and drought victims in Kenya and Somalia. This announcement brings the total of U.S. humanitarian assistance in Kenya and Somalia to nearly $265 million in fiscal year 2016” (U.S. Department of State – ‘Additional Funding for Kenya and Somalia’ (23.08.2016)

The next year in 2017, in February the High Court of Kenya even blocked the Closure of the Refugee Camp. Even the European Parliament in May 2017 adopted a text on the Camp stating this:

whereas the EU has allocated EUR 286 million through the European Development Fund (EDF) for the period 2014-2020, focusing on the implementation of the ‘Compact’ and on state and peace building, food security, resilience and education in particular; whereas the EU Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa was signed at the Valletta Summit on 12 November 2015 and was designed to address the root causes of destabilisation, forced displacement and irregular migration by promoting resilience, economic opportunities, equal opportunities, security and development; whereas the EU is responding to the lifesaving basic needs of refugees hosted in Kenyan refugee camps” (EU, 18.05.2017).

Why do I post these old statements on extra added funding for the Refugee Camps in Kenya. Well, the Kenyan Government is now known for having notified the UNHCR, that they would close the Dadaab Refugee Camp and not do it. Because, it is one solution and we all know why they do this. The refugee camps are bargain chips for more funding. This is what they do. It is not the first time and not the last.  

This is also the knowledge of the Kenyan Government, that is why they can force again the rich Western Countries, the well-wishing, not-to-friendly wealthy benefactors for own personal benefit. So, they can pay a higher price and drop more jewels on the Refugee Camp. Because, that solves the problem at home and also keeps it going as it has been.

That is why the Kenyan government in the hour of need, in their mercy for some foreign exchange can expose their greed. Notify of the closure of the Refugee Camp. To ensure, that the Western Partners, the ones who donates aid, actually gives them some more. To keep the 30 year old venture up and also pay-off the cronies in Nairobi. Which also needs part of the stake in the Aid Business. They don’t want to skimped out of the well deserved funds for hosting these people.

That is why the same government have tried this trick in 2016, 2017 and now returns to the old venture of skimming money out a refugee problem, again in 2019. We could lie and say, they are really need in more funds and in dire need for such, and such. But then, we would kid ourselves and also the general public.

There are always need for more programs, better food and more possibilities for the ones staying a place Dadaab, but that is not the reason why the Kenyan government did notify the UNHCR. They are hungry and want to eat. It is their turn to eat. That is why the smelled the empty plates and want their UNGA too. Peace.