Despite being one of East Africa’s economic leaders, Kenya’s military expenditure remains persistently low, with the country’s defence budget witnessing a negative compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.5% from 2019 to 2023, according to GlobalData analysis.

Kenya’s defence spending amounted to $1.14bn in 2019, which decreased to $1.12bn by 2023, despite the country’s military requirements appearing to point towards a need to increase expenditure to meet the challenges posed by the Al Shabaab movement in neighbouring Somalia and other internal threats, as well as participation in internal peacekeeping missions.

Defence spending was forecast to increase slightly from 2023-2028, rising at a CAGR of 1.4% to reach $1.19bn.

According to GlobalData, Kenya’s small defence budget “will act as an obstacle to foreign investors” and with the budget not forecast to increase significantly in the coming years, defence companies are likely to persist with such sentiments in the near term.

Earning potential of UN peacekeeping participation

Kenya earns considerable sums from its military’s participation in UN peacekeeping missions, first joining the UN Iran–Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG) from 1988-1990.

According to Kenya’s Ministry of Defence, since then the country’s military has deployed troop contingents to the UN Transition Assistant Group in Namibia, the UN Protection Force in Croatia, the two UN missions in Liberia (UNOMIL and UNMIL), the UN Mission in Sierra Leone, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN–African Union Mission in Darfur, and the UN Mission in South Sudan.

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United Nations figures from 2019 indicate that countries volunteering uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a standard rate, approved by the General Assembly, of $1,428 per soldier per month.

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