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Kenya buys 12 US helicopters amid rising concern, hue and cry over public debt

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Kenya is set to acquire six new US-made light attack helicopter gunships in a multi-billion shilling deal that is being closed in the middle of severe austerity, an international arms magazine has said.

The planes are part of the $253 million (Sh25 billion) arms deal that Nairobi signed with Washington and got the United States Congress approval in May last year.

UK-based defence magazine IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly says in its latest edition that the six MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD530F Cayuse Warrior scout and light-attack platforms will be delivered between April and August next year.

WAR AGAINST TERROR

The contract, which Arizona-based manufacturer MD Helicopters announced last Thursday, covers half the 12 helicopters that were approved by the US State Department in May 2017.

The Kenya Army said it plans to use the choppers against Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants and in support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

The deal includes 12 MD530F Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters, machine gun pod systems, rocket launcher systems and assorted ammunition.

The new arms acquisitions signal President Uhuru Kenyatta’s resolve to continue upgrading Kenya’s military capabilities despite his recent push for austerity that last month shaved off Sh34.33 billion from the development budget.

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Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, has in recent years suffered deadly gun and bomb attacks from the Al-Shabaab militants who are demanding withdrawal of Kenyan troops from the Horn of Africa nation.

Kenya does not make public its military purchases and only Parliament is mandated to scrutinise expenditure by key security organs.

The US manufacturer’s contract notification for Kenya says the helicopters will be fitted with enhanced firepower, including the FN Herstal Weapons Management System, the DillonAero Mission Configurable Armament System (MCAS) and the DillonAero fixed-forward sighting system.

Besides, the planes have a 62mm ballistic armour protection, FN Herstal 12.7mm HMP 400 machine gun pods and M260 seven-shot pods for 70mm rockets.

Kenya is procuring the MD 530Fs to replace existing MD 500 platforms that are flown by the 50th Air Cavalry Battalion and constitutes the core of the reconnaissance equipment supporting ground forces.

Afghan Air Force has used helicopters that are similar to the six Kenya is about to acquire under the proposed deal. The efficacy of the gunships was, however, questioned last year, according to an interview in the New York Times.

Afghanistan’s most decorated pilot, Colonel Qalandar Shah Qalandari, was quoted as saying, among other things, that the helicopters “cannot reach areas where Taliban insurgents operate from because they cannot cross the mountain ranges that surround Kabul.”

READ ALSO:   Uhuru is "shredding" the constitution which is disastrous for the country, says Prof Yash Pal Ghai

“If we go down after the enemy we’re going to have enemy return fire, which we can’t survive. If we go up higher, we can’t visually target the enemy. Even the guns are no good,” he said of the planes.

US Defence Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) had, however, said earlier in a May 2, 2017 statement that the helicopters will go towards helping Kenya “modernise its rotorcraft fleet in order to improve border security, undertake operations against Somalia-based jihadist group Al-Shabaab and contribute to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).”

Kenya has consistently upgraded its military hardware in recent years, raising its spending on the armed forces to Sh96 billion in 2016 to stand above neighbouring Ethiopia and Uganda combined, a global report said.

Nairobi’s arms orders, which have stoked fears of an arms race in the region, last year included a second-hand naval gun, AK-630 30mm, from Montenegro “for modernisation of Jasiri OPV (offshore patrol vessel)”.

Besides, the Kenya Defence Forces last July received the last two of the eight Bell Huey II helicopters it ordered from the US to reinforce its air assault capability against terrorists.

Jordan, a long-time seller of arms to Nairobi, last year also donated two second-hand AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters to Kenya.

READ ALSO:   Cs Mwangi Kiunjuri Fired!

Under the earlier US deal with Nairobi, the 12 MD530F weaponised helicopters were to be supplied together with 24 heavy machine gun pods, 24 HMP400 machine gun pod systems, 24 M260 rocket pods and 4,032 M151 high-explosive rockets.

The planes were also to be fitted with 1,536 M274 smoke rockets, 400,000 rounds of .50 calibre ammunition and communications/ navigation equipment.

Kenya was also to get logistics support, training and technical assistance, spare parts and field service support and special assigned airlift mission (SAAM) flight delivery under the deal.

-nation.co.ke

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PHOTO: What is happening in Amani Ridge the Place of Peace.

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Today 11.08.2020

Welcome to Amani Ridge and take a tour to our green spaces, home to 546 different types of fruit trees!

You will also meet a dedicated team on the ground doing the final closure of the perimeter wall.

Join Optiven family today and get an opportunity to to build your home in a serene,scenic and natural environment.

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Website: www.optiven.co.ke

Experience the difference

READ ALSO:   President Uhuru Kenyatta announces resumption of air travel
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OPTIVEN: All our projects have you in mind

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We think of accessibility to social amenities, education needs for your children, all social, recreational and economic needs as well.

Living in the Garden of Joy gives you access to all the above and more!

Enjoy all the benefits of living in this wonderful gated community which is just a 7 minute drive from Koma Town.

Invest today in quality living for your family
Call us on 0723 400 500 or visit https://bit.ly/30K8Vwi

READ ALSO:   President Uhuru Kenyatta announces resumption of air travel
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How Covid-19 lifted my Sh1,000 business

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Covid-19 has hit the working class hard. President Uhuru Kenyatta during one of his recent statements warned of 500,000 job losses in six months should Covid-19 persist.

And women bear the brunt of the pandemic as most of them work in the informal sector, the hardest hit by the job cuts.

For Purity Namalwa Nasilwa, however, losing her job was a blessing in disguise.  Instead of drowning in sorrow and self-pity, she used the chance to make a financial comeback.

The 22-year-old sat for her KCSE in 2018, attained a B (Minus) grade, earning her admission to Kenyatta University but lack of school fees did her in.

ACCEPTED FATE

“I had accepted that my life and fate had entered into a coalition to mess me up…Poverty had been hanging around my neck like a guillotine and I had accepted that God’s grace was sufficient for me to enable me live a day at a time,” she says.

Her dream to pursue a course in hospitality went up in smoke when her parents could not afford her campus fees. Countless visits to her Kiharu MP’s office in search of help bore no fruit.

She immersed herself into casual labour in food joints in Murang’a town.

“For one and a half years, she eked a living in Mitura (African sausage) and soup joints, earning between Sh100 and Sh200 as daily wages,” she says.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Uhuru inspects projects in Kajiado as Moses Kuria mocks his Big4 agenda

In the course of toiling to make ends meet, she got pregnant.

PREGNANT AGAIN

“It did not come as a surprise to me. When life seems harsh to you, you get psyched that misfortunes are part of life. I found myself looking forward to giving birth and even expecting to get pregnant again. I cared not a damn…Little did I know I was sinking slowly into depression,” she says.

Then Covid-19 arrived into the country, all food joints in Murang’a were closed and she was jobless!
“Even when Governor Mwangi wa Iria revised the trade sanctions a month later, the damage had already been done since many small businesses had ran out of capital to pay rent and sustain profitability margins,” she says.

With house rent arrears of Sh5, 000 and hunger staring down at her and her baby, Ms Nasilwa knew her life was nearing unbearable limits.

Purity Nasilwa at her business premise in Murang’a County, preparing the immune boosting juice. PHOTO | MWANGI MUIRURI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

She sought help from her mum.

RENT ARREARS

“She gave me Sh1,000. It was a sacrifice since she was also experiencing the vagaries of Covid-19-induced financial hardships. My first instinct was to go shopping for food reserves. But wait; and afterwards? The rent arrears were accumulating,” she got thinking.

READ ALSO:   KENYATTA: All Kenyan pupils who sat KCPE will get admission letters by Xmas [VIDEO]

She had read, in the Bible, about the mustard seed and how it multiplied to generate wealth. The more she thought along that line, the more she got inspired to devise a way of making that Sh1,000 grow.

“I cracked my head for a strategy. An inspiration from nowhere struck my head and opened my horizons far and wide. I became aware that there was a market craze that was building about natural fruits touted to be immunity boosters against Coronavirus,” she says, adding that “that was my Eureka moment.”

She bought food reserves worth Sh300. She used the balance, Sh700 to buy Sh40 avocadoes, Sh50 pineapple, Sh50 bananas, Sh80 beetroots, Sh100 garlic, Sh50 sugarcane and Sh30 tomatoes.

JUICE BLENDING

“With Sh300 in hand now, I bought some plastic cups and jugs worth Sh200 and the balance of Sh100 became my cash in hand,” she says.

The next stop was at a neighbour’s house who gave her a juice blending machine.
She then approached a friend who runs a cybercafé along Biashara Street of Murang’a town for a space to display her new enterprise on a small wooden table.

“It must have been God’s favour since, from my starting stock, I made about 3,000ml of assorted juices, all of which were bought at Sh1,500 equivalent to a net profit of Sh900!” she says.

READ ALSO:   Cs Mwangi Kiunjuri Fired!

While many companies hurt during the coronavirus pandemic, some small businesses like Ms Nasilwa’s are seeing more and more customers by the day.

RELIEF FOOD

“It was too sweet to be true because my sales kept on growing by the day. I have expanded my start-up to include immunity booster uji (porridge) made of organic tuber flour, smooth and fresh juices, detoxes, puddings and salads, “ she says noting that on a bad day, “ I’m guaranteed at least Sh600 as profit.”

She does not require ‘Kazi Mtaani’ or relief food to earn a livelihood since she is self-reliant.

Ms Nasilwa is now more positive about life and says her future is premised on two hopes —either she gets sponsors to see her pursue university education that poverty denied her despite being qualified, or get a breakthrough in her business.

“My greatest lesson in life out of this Covid-19 experience is that not all calamities are bad…Covid-19 pandemic to me was a blessing in disguise. Again, I have come to realise that there is no small money in the hands of a determined mind to multiply it,” she says.

By nation.co.ke

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