EU to fund Kenya Defence Forces to the tune of $21 million plus

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The defence component of Kenyan President William Ruto’s administration is on the receiving end of a 20 million euro (about $21.5 million) “assistance measure” from the European Union (EU) European Peace Facility (EPF).

The rationale behind the financial boost to the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) is explained as enhancing operational capabilities of the East African country’s air force, army and navy to protect territorial integrity and sovereignty and keep the wider population safe from internal and external threats. The “assistance measure”, according to a statement, will also contribute to securing border areas and countering increased al-Shabaab operations on the Somalia border.

The EPF funding will finance equipment and related services, including training where needed, the EU said.

Kenya Army infantry combat units and related combat support and combat service support units will receive tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), non-lethal interceptors and jammers, systems to defeat improvised explosive devices (IEDs), “electronic warfare means”, cross-country tactical military-type vehicles and a mobile medical post. To support the Kenya Navy’s efforts, naval marine units will be equipped with night vision goggles, life vests and specific personal protective equipment.

“This support,” the EU statement reads, “is a concrete deliverable of joint security and defence consultations held under the EU-Kenya strategic dialogue. By investing in the capacities and capabilities of its defence forces, the EU reaffirms its support to Kenya as a pillar of peace and stability in the region”.

The “assistance measure” is reportedly the first of kind made to the East African country since inception of the EPF in 2021. The fund supports security measures in African countries allied to the EU.

The EU assistance comes on the heels of a massive aid package from the United States, which in May revealed plans to transfer eight UH-1 ‘Huey’ and eight MD500 helicopters to Kenya between late 2024 and mid-2024 along with 150 M1117 4×4 armoured vehicles to improve regional security – the vehicles should arrive in September.

At the end of May, President Joe Biden welcomed Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House to strengthen ties between the two countries and mark 60 years of official US-Kenya partnership. Regarding defence, the White House announced plans to upgrade Manda Bay airfield in northern Kenya, with US and Kenyan officials set to sign a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a 10 000 foot runway. Kenya is also in the process of joining Operation ‘Gallant Phoenix’, a US-led multinational initiative based in Jordan aimed at sharing information on terrorist threats, further strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation between the two countries.

Biden also informed Congress he intends to designate Kenya as a Major Non-NATO Ally. This is the first designation of a sub-Saharan Africa nation as a Major Non-NATO Ally, the White House said.

The USA has provided to Kenya over $230 million in civilian security and defence sector funding since 2020, including assistance from the Massachusetts National Guard under the State Partnership Programme, alongside ongoing advisory and training efforts for Kenyan pilots, logistics personnel, and the Kenya Defence Forces’ Disaster Response Battalion.