Parliament Budget Office (PBO) wants Kenya to close down some embassies and instead hire foreigners to carry out the country’s diplomatic duties.
The office says the move will not only lower rent, but also reduce the cost of hosting Kenyan diplomats in foreign countries. It argues that despite Kenya having a total of 61 missions spread across five continents, diplomatic representatives have failed to increase the country’s trade in those countries.
PBO says the expansion of Kenya’s presence across the globe has failed to achieve much results given that the destination of the country’s exports remains narrow. For instance, 12 countries accounted for 70 percent of Kenya’s total exports last year.
As a result, the advisory team says the government should consider appointing citizens of those countries to act on behalf of Kenya.
“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 for expenses incurred in offering their services,” PBO says.
Last year, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said it plans to spend at least Sh5 billion annually for the next 15 years to buy houses for Kenyan diplomats abroad.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau in a report to parliament said the purchase plan would save the taxpayers more than Sh3 billion spent on rent by foreign missions yearly. He pointed out that a majority of government-owned properties in foreign countries are old, having been acquired in the early years of Kenya’s diplomacy.
Macharia’s report was in response to the National Assembly’s Defense and Foreign Relations Committee inspection report that exposed the deplorable state of Kenya’s embassies in 10 missions. They include New York (United Nations), Canada, Washington, Russia, Australia, Geneva, Japan, China, South Korea, and the Los Angeles consulate.
“The iron sheet roof and supporting structure had deteriorated extensively and there was evidence of general leakages. Gutters and down water pipes were extensively corroded,” the report said about Kenya’s embassy in Washington, DC.