Corruption

Sh4.4Bn Konza Project Irregular Payment To Chinese Firm Queried

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Senators have questioned why Sh4.4 billion loan for Konza Data Centre and Smart City project was paid to tech giant Huawei and not the Consolidated Fund.

In his statement to the House on Wednesday, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala asked the Ministry of ICT to explain the circumstances under which a Chinese lender made a direct payment to the telecoms giant.

“The government should also outline the total cost of the project, indicating how much has been paid so far and the outstanding balance including any interest payable,” he added.

Malala said the government needs to explain why the foreign borrowing was not paid into the Consolidated Fund as required by Article 206 of the Constitution.

The Constitution requires that all money raised or received by or on behalf of the national government shall be paid into the Consolidated Fund.

It also bars the withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund unless the Controller of Budget has approved the transaction.

Malala further said the government should explain why the foreign borrowing was not appropriated and withdrawn in line with Articles 222 and 223 of the Constitution.

The Auditor-General had flagged the payment in a report dated May 12.

Nancy Gathungu says the lender could not produce documents to validate the payments to Huawei, raising concerns that taxpayers could lose billions of shillings through unsubstantiated payment demands.

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Konza project was conceived in 2017 and it entails the development of core infrastructure including a national cloud data centre, a smart ICT network, a public safe city and smart traffic solution and a government cloud and enterprise service.

The Chinese tech giant Huawei was picked to develop the Konza Data Centre and Smart City.

Malala further wants the ministry to state the reason why the financing agreement for the Konza Data Centre was signed on 19 April, 2019 during the Belt and Road Initiative Forum, almost two years after the contract award date of 22 June, 2017.

“We want them to also ascertain that the country will get value for money for the project, which is a Kenya Vision 2030 Flagship project,” he said.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said its is clear the Constitution was disregarded when transactions were being made.

“If we had a functional Director of Criminal Investigations, Director of Public Prosecutions and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, someone would be behind the bars,” he said.

Speaker Ken Lusaka referred the matter to the Standing Committee on Information and Technology.

Konza Technology City is set to host East Africa’s biggest data centre with a capacity of 1.6 petabytes.


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