Kenya Parliament team wants number of embassies slashed

Written by on December 3, 2021

A parliamentary advisory team has urged Kenya to cut the number of embassies and hire foreigners for the country’s diplomacy work in efforts to lower the cost of rent and hosting diplomats abroad.

The Parliament Budget Office (PBO) says that despite having 61 missions including consulates and liaison offices which are spread across the five continents, Kenyan ambassadors have failed to increase the country’s trade in those countries.

PBO said despite the expansion of Kenya’s footprint across the globe, the destination of Kenya’s exports has remained narrow with only 12 countries accounting for 70 percent of total exports in 2020.

The advisory team said in view of limited resources the government should consider reviewing foreign missions with a preference of appointing citizens of those countries to act on Kenya’s behalf.

“Honorary Consuls offer an efficient diplomatic channel of increasing a country’s diplomatic network as they are cost-effective than fully-fledged missions because of the lower costs attached to maintain Honorary Consuls as they serve for free and only require reimbursed f expenses incurred in offering their services,” PBO said.

Kenyan foreign missions have come into focus given the cost of maintaining embassies abroad.

Most of the government-owned properties in missions abroad are old having been acquired in the early years of Kenya’s Independence forcing the government to pay rents in Western capitals for ambassadors.

The London embassy and those in New York (UN), Canada, Washington, Russia, Australia, Geneva, Japan, China, South Korea and the Los Angeles consulate have been cited as being in a deplorable state and in need of an uplift.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is seeking at least Sh5 billion annually for 15 years to buy properties, which will cut the amount of money spent on rent by foreign missions.

The expenditure has called into question the priority of maintaining the foreign missions at a time Kenya is struggling to tame its expenditure in the wake of huge debt payments and weaker revenues.

Diplomats in London and New York have been forced to rent homes and offices as residences built by taxpayers fall apart due to neglect.

Auditor-General reports paint the sorry state of affairs in the country’s foreign missions and singled out the Kenyan Embassy in Washington DC, New York and London — which are the most prestigious diplomatic missions.

This has forced diplomats to rent homes in some of the world’s pricey cities, upping the missions’ leasing costs.

The cost of renting space for Kenya’s embassy in London remains un-disclosed but the city’s leasing costs are some of the most expensive in the world.


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