US links loss of Kenya State tenders to graft

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation from State House, Nairobi on March 12, 2021.

Photo credit: PSCU

What you need to know:

  • The US has decried graft in government tenders in Kenya, saying it locked out qualified American firms from undertaking projects in the country.
  • The US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) claimed that some rogue public officials in Kenya manipulated tender bids to suit their interests and those of their cronies.

The US has decried graft in government tenders in Kenya, saying it locked out qualified American firms from undertaking projects in the country.

The US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) claimed that some rogue public officials in Kenya manipulated tender bids to suit their interests and those of their cronies.

“US firms have had limited success bidding on government tenders in Kenya. There are widespread reports that corruption often influences the outcome of public tenders, and many of these tenders are challenged in the courts,” it said.

“Foreign firms, some without proven track records, have won government contracts when partnered with well-connected Kenyan firms,” the agency responsible for developing and promoting American trade policy added.

The US is keen on transparency in public procurement in Kenya ahead of a new free trade deal between these countries.

The graft claims by the US are likely to shine more spotlight on Kenya procurement systems which have long been linked to brazen manipulation by some State officials.

Rattled by outcry over fraud in public tenders, Kenya in January 2019 opted to migrate all public tenders and procurement transactions to the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), an electronic tool.

The IFMIS became the technology through which government runs national finances, from planning through budgeting to procurement, payment, accounting and reporting. It helps in reporting by the Controller of Budget (CoB) on how and on what tax resources are spent nationally and in the counties. It forms one input into the Auditor-General’s own annual review and audit of these accounts.

The USTR, however, said that since the IFMIS was launched in 2014, there have been complaints about insufficient connectivity and technical capacity in county governments, apathy from county officials, and central control shutdowns.

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