Category Archives: Lamu

Kenya 2018 Budget Policy and the Big Four

Kenya’s National Treasury has published the 2018 budget policy statement  (BPS) – titled “The Big Four” – creating jobs, transforming lives.

It has lots of mentions of the “Big Four” agenda which President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled in his Jamhuri Day speech (December 12, 2017) which are targets of what his government will aim to achieve in its second term. According to the BPS, the “Big Four” Plan (items are) increasing the share of manufacturing sector to GDP; ensuring all citizens enjoy food security and improved nutrition by 2022; expanding universal health coverage; and delivering at least five hundred thousand (500,000) affordable housing units.

BPS excerpts; 

  • The BPS assumes that GDP will be between 6% to 7% over the next five years, and nominal GDP will rise from Kshs 6.7 trillion ($66 billion) in 2016  to Kshs 14.3 trillion ($139 billion) in 2022.
  • The BPS assumptions are premised on improved collections and efficiencies at Kenya’s 47 developed counties to collect revenues, and for them to have and adhere to realistic budgets. Also, that there be reductions in duplication of roles, resulting in simpler government structure. Counties wages as a percent of their revenue has been 37-38% for the last three years.
  • The BPS cites a goal to double income tax from Kshs 625 billion in 2016-17 to Kshs 1.26 trillion in 2021-22 and mentions that a review of Kenya’s income tax code will be completed by June 2018 to enhance tax compliance and ensure the stability of tax revenue. 
  • The BPS notes that interest payments over the same period will rise from Kshs 271 billion to Kshs 491 billion and wages from Kshs 336 billion to Kshs 563 billion. Elsewhere it projects that wages which were 30% of gross national resource in 2016/17 will progressively reduce in subsequent years down to 23.4% in 2021/22.
  • The BPS cites public-private partnership projects that will be undertaken during the 2018-2020 period such as a second Nyali bridge, Lamu coal plant, Lamu port (3 berths),  Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo highway, airport rehabilitation car parks, conference centers, affordable housing projects, and even a Likoni crossing aerial cable car.
  • There are also 22 energy projects – a mix of geothermal, solar, wind, from which the government commits to purchase energy. These include Lamu coal ($360 million per year) and the Lake Turkana wind (€ 110 million per year).

Some risks noted in the BPS include, counties failing to collect & remit revenue, and the Kenya Deposit Insurance Corporation only covers 9.2% of bank assets (the figure should be closer to international goal of 20% to protect against systemic bank risks). Others are terrorist attacks, natural disasters, climate change, disruptions to mobile money systems, unfunded pension liabilities, and most important the sustainability of public debt.

Oil Pipeline, Economics & Politics Part II: Lamu-Turkana

Yesterday, State House Kenya sent out a statement about plans for a new Kenya oil pipeline from Lokichar in Turkana to Lamu at the Kenya Coast which Total had now committed to build.

The statement comes at a time when Uganda which is believed to have larger oil fields that Kenya has committed to build an oil pipeline through Tanzania, rather than through Kenya. Also for Kenya which had planned to start oil shipments last year in a pilot project using trucks from Turkana to Mombasa, with Tullow, had that plan temporarily stall over infrastructure and political issues.

Blocks sweeten oil pipeline deal.

The Total offer will be sweetened by the provision of some oil blocks in Kenya. Total is in the processor completing an acquisition of Maersk Oil for $7.45 billion and doing the pipeline for Kenya is one way to get local approval for the deal from the local competition authority. 

Following Total SA’s commitment, the Government has consented to a proposed acquisition of the issued and to-be-issued share capital of Maersk Oil Exploration International (Mogas Kenya) in respect of Blocks 10BA, 10BB and 13T. – State House Kenya statement.
Total Kenya is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and Total has been in Kenyan for over sixty years; the company’s operations include eight depots (five of which are solely owned), 2 LPG filling plants and 180 service stations.
The news comes after other oil developments including Total buying out a majority of Tullow’s oil developments in Uganda, leaving Tullow to concentrate on the oil pipeline through Tanzania.

Also see part I of Oil Pipeline, Economics & Politics.

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Spymaster Memoirs by Bart Kibati

Excerpts from the Memoirs of a Kenyan Spymaster, a unique autobiography by Bart Joseph Kibati who worked in national intelligence for over two decades, where his job was to, with others in the business, identify and analyze threats and advise the government. It is a revealing look at many sectors of his life (he got married the same day that Tom Mboya was shot), Kenya’s transformation in the independence era, the business environment, and the state of security in East Africa and international relations, while serving in two administrations during  which he interacted with Presidents’ Kenyatta and Moi.

Spymaster excerpts

Police & Cattle & Remote areas

  • Cattle rustling by cattle raiders – Ngorokos (former soldier) has long been a feature in Kenya, with Laikipia and Samburu raids spilling over to Turkana, Baringo and Isiolo areas. Suguta Valley where over 40 police were killed in 2012 is a place that police have long avoided going to for years because of the dangers.
  • While the ‘Ngoroko’ plot against Moi, was a myth, it was based a well-intended idea to have an elite fighting unit to chase and deal with bandits.
  • For decades, Lamu’s Boni forest, which is near the Somalia border, has been a hideout for poachers & bandits and this has been sustained by poor policing practices in the area and support by local tribes.

East Africa & Leadership Styles

  • Some keen observations on some of the factors such as economic desires, ideology & actions of leaders  – Kenyatta, Nyerere and Obote/Amin and other political party & government officials in the run-up to why the East Africa community collapsed.
  • Two days after the signing of an East African a treaty in 1963, there were coup attempts in all three EAC countries.
  • To make their decisions, Kenyatta relied on finished intelligence information, while Moi wanted raw information.
  • Moi wanted to know why the Kikuyu hated him and Bart told him about quotas in education and government, and the collapse of their banks (which were rolled into Consolidated Bank) and area infrastructure, to which Moi replied: “How can the government build infrastructure if they ask donors not to release funds?”

Industry & Economy

  • Beach plots allocated by the President and partnership with hoteliers resulted in massive hotel empires at the coast or wealth from selling utility plots – by people around the president.
  • The greed of property developers and corruption of environmental regulators.
  • The government moved to grant duty-free cars to university lecturers in a move to pacify their radical ways.
  • Coffee smuggling from Uganda, through Chepkube, opened the eyes of many people in government, including police, to quick great wealth that could come from corruption.
  • The Numerical Machine Corporation was a success. It just could not shed the ‘Nyayo car’ tag.

Human Resources  & Working in the Government: 

  • When he finished form four at Mangu High School, he had job offers to work at East African Airways, Barclays Bank, the Post Office, Kenyatta University, and also the option to continue his schooling at A levels!
  • The recent repeal of indemnity for security forces (and TJRC) makes it hard to do police work such as combating terror threats and is a demonization of patriots.
  • How colleagues, and politicians scheme to transfer, promote or demote other security staff.
  • There is no pension for older Kenyans who, while experienced, are discarded under the guise that they are preventing youth from getting jobs. It seems the Government hopes they will die soon and stop draining the meagre government pension.
  • There were no successful coups in Kenya due to (long-term spymaster chief) Kanyotu and the Special Branch. The 1982 coup was unnecessary;  It could have been stopped but for a leak and bureaucracy. But Kanyotu was later misled by Pattni into the Goldenberg scam.
  • The more open that national intelligence services become, with things like having a visible head (of tee NIS) and a website, the less effective they have become.
  • Finally, he ends by asking if Kenya is facing more terror attacks, urban crimes, and rural banditry today because the country doesn’t have a functional intelligence collecting unit. Or there’s more reliance on technical intelligence than human intelligence by a demoralized, ethnicized spy unit.

Some revelations in Spymaster are shocking, but many of the stories have been cited elsewhere with different interpretations, and many of the people named have passed on, or circumstances have changed. Also another story elsewhere, quotes Lee Njiru a long time civil servant who says that: (the) Official Secrets Act binds civil servants to keep secrets for 30 years and the period had elapsed and he was now free to share what he knows.

Also read The Birth of an Airline by Owaahh, which narrates from the Spymaster book, about the break-up of East African Airways and the birth of Kenya Airways.

Oil Pipeline, Economics & Politics

It’s been reported that the oil pipeline from Uganda is going to go through Tanzania, not Kenya. Two forgotten facts about the Uganda oil decision are that; (1) President Museveni of Uganda has been steadfast that he wanted to refine oil in Uganda, not export raw crude (2) Uganda’s oil has been said to be waxy or heavy. This means it would require complex heating to keep it flowing along a complex oil pipeline through the rift valleys and hills – to the coast of Kenya.

M7 poster 2

The cost, insecurity and difficulty of building infrastructure have been cited reasons that Uganda opted to go through Tanzania. Still Kenya has several LAPSSET projects on the cards including an oil pipeline to go to Lamu where there would be a new highway, railway, coal plant and modern, deep-sea port.

Pipeline Impact

Last year at the TDS Nairobi summit, during the 10th  Ministerial Conference (MC10) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a session was held on local content in extractive (and oil) industries. Some interesting comments there included:

  • It is a legitimate objective for any resource rich country to try to maximize the value of its resources.
  • If a country puts restrictions on raw exports, it may distort the local economy; it creates artificial demand – and if it is not efficient, local related industries will not survive.
  • Kenya energy expert Patrick Obath suggested that Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan have to talk together and implement projects together for projects like the oil pipeline to be viable. That would also have to happen to get more value-addition from the oil in the countries e.g. can the countries plan to get fertilizer from oil?
  • With mining, you have 20 years of opportunity for local suppliers and jobs, but with an oil pipeline that’s only there in the beginning, then goes away once the pipeline is built (there wont be many local jobs after, and communities don’t get an economic boom from having an oil pipeline passing through their land..which may lead to some local frustration).

More on Kenya Pipeline:

oil tankers

  • The Kenya Pipeline Company is charged with transporting and storing of petroleum products.
  • A (presidential task force on parastatal reforms proposes the Treasury incorporate a holding company known as the Government Investment Corporation (GIC), into which Kenya Pipeline Company should be transferred to determine (its) intended privatization.
  • Meanwhile Kenya Pipeline is continuing with its projects including replacing the current Mombasa-Nairobi Pipeline.

Lamu, Kenya and Amu Power – Part II

See Part I of the visit to Lamu with Amu Power

After the morning session with the county officials, we had a chance to visit the planned site of the Amu Power coal plant at Kwasasi, on the mainland. This was my third visit to Lamu in four years, but my first chance to visit the mainland of Lamu County.

The Lamu islands are incredibly beautiful, and once you experience Lamu, you are unlikely to look at Mombasa the same way again. It’s a beautiful place for tourists to visit; boat rides, the endless beaches of Shela, the quaint town with tiny streets, curio shops, friendly residents,  ancient buildings, tasty foods served on roof top restaurants, and a world heritage status conferred on the town.

Also for tourists who come to Lamu, unlike travel to Mombasa where they have to contend with at least an hour of traffic around both Jomo Kenyatta and Moi airports, they can fly to Lamu having skipped the traffic bit by using Wilson airport in Nairobi, while in Lamu, there’s no such thing at traffic – as you land on Manda island, walk 300 meters and get on a boat that can get you to a hotel or villa within ten minutes. But while it’s beautiful for tourists, life is not getting better for residents. The boat rides are expensive, unemployment is high, and education is low, and the land has other challenges.

Mainland jettyTo get to the Kwasasi site, we took a 15-minute boat ride to Mokowe jetty where several taxis were waiting. Mainland Lamu, which borders Somalia about 100 kilometers away, has been in the news over the last two years due to sporadic attacks and incidents, with the most catastrophic being Mpeketoni in June 2014, where 48 people were killed by a terror gang.

The first stop after stepping off the ferry on the mainland was to drive to the local police station to collect some armed policemen that the company had hired for the day. After that it was a long drive over about an hour that covered about 30 kilometers on narrow dry dusty roads. Lamu County is said to have 6 kilometers of tarmac, but this main road on the mainland had none.

Eventually, we got to a Navy base, which also marked the edge of the port area. This was our starting point and we drove along the fence of the navy base, which had a road then away from the fence with satellite tracking devices to pinpoint the coordinates of the corners of the site and this took about two hours to navigate. Amu Power had contracted a landscape architect to produce real life drawings of what the plant would look like in the current environment, and he took several pictures at each corner of the site and strategic points on the road.

Kwasasi 1The site of the plant was a large plain field with sparse bush. This was a shock as I expected to find warehouse sheds, office and residential buildings to mark the edge of a LAPSSET (The Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor) port city. But the place was sparsely populated and devoid of structures or developments.

This was apparently communal land, but there were sticks in the ground to mark boundaries in some places and burnt bushes in other places presumably for cultivation clearing. In some places targeted for LAPSSET projects, speculators in the area have pushed up the price of land five times in the last few years.

Another shock was seeing many women and girls walking along the road with yellow 20-liter drum, full of water. This is an arid area, with few water points and the role of fetching water is one performed by women who walk long distances. We later stopped at one of Amu Power’s CSR projects, which were a series of water tanks at a  central point to which a company lorry delivers water every week for area residents to use. It should not be the business of prospective investors to provide water, but that’s the reality of doing business in many parts of the world, and the water delivery has made life easier, with more to be done.

Hindi water pointAmu Power has plans for the construction of a water desalination plant, which will be the first ever, built in Kenya, and the excess of this will be shared with the local community.

We left just before sunset and asked the taxi driver about the ongoing curfew that was in the area. He said it was still in force, but had been relaxed of late.

After we got back to the Island we had a few more talks to recap the day. Earlier, one of the community leaders has  talked of the challenges Lamu had faced and why it had remained largely unchanged 50 years after independence with issues like  water shortages, transport challenges and lack of roads. He said, while Lamu was poor, there had been resistance to several past attempts to introduce development projects  in the area– including a fertilizer plant, the new port (because it would spoil fishing), and wind power in Shela (because it would spoil the water).

Kwasasi 2The day after the visit, as we prepared to leave and fly back to Nairobi, we started hearing reports of the ongoing attack at the university in Garissa. The full scale of the attack did not become apparent till later in the day.

It is expected that President Uhuru Kenyatta will be in the area in a few weeks to commission the first three berths of the Lamu port that is set to be completed in 2019.

The port, crude oil pipeline, the coal plant in Lamu and Lamu-Garissa-Isiolo Road will raise the profile of Lamu and thus the government’s investments to enhance the security profile of the area. The fringe benefits of this infrastructure will be to open up the Eastern and Northern part of Kenya to development and settlement, the way that the British railway did over 100 years ago between Mombasa and Kisumu.

Clearly, not only is change coming to Lamu, change has to come to Lamu. The LAPSSET projects and the coal plant are about 30 kilometers from Lamu town and the picturesque islands that most people in Lamu are familiar; that’s about the distance from Mombasa island to Diani beach and its possible that the two will coexist and mutually benefit like the South coast neighbours.