The cabinet reshuffle yesterday might have been a diversionary tactic, to take our attention from the sale of Telcom Kenya to a “UAE company”, Infrastructure Corporation Africa (ICA).
Under Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration, the Government of Kenya bought back 60% of Telcom shares from Helios, thereby ensuring full acquisition of the corporation and all its assets.
The Telcom assets include strategic national security infrasructure, communications systems and data systems. Having it in the hands of foreigners therefore leaves the country exposed to espionage, through exclusive access to phone and data networks. Someone out there would be in a position to spy on the Army, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) among other institutions.
Further, Telcom owns a big part of the undersea optic cable which is part of the internet infrastructure that supports even the private sector. It also owns prime land assets across the country.
Yesterday we learnt that Ruto’s administration was in the process of selling 60% of this critical institution to a foreign shadowy agency. The details of this deal are scanty and there is no information on how the decision was arrived at or how much money is involved.
Why the rush to sell the institution to another company even before parliament tables its report on an ingoing probe regarding the share buyback by GoK from Helios? Also, has the privatisation law as it is today been followed in this process? Has parliament scrutinized this sale? Is the auditor general involved?
As stated above, Telcom owns various properties around the country, one of them being a huge track of land on Ngong road which the former president Uhuru Kenyatta had developed and built some good sports facilities. Recently, the court ordered that government pays Telcom ksh 11 billion for this land. If Telcom is fully owned by government, this decision becomes null and void. Now, if the corporation is transfered to this UAE company, it means that the government will have to pay ksh 11 billion to Telcom, greatly benefiting its new owner/s.
Which brings us to some critical questions;
Who owns Infrastructure Corporation Africa? Who is this person or persons that is about to acquire such a critical national institution that supports trategic security operations, and owns property worth hundrends of billions of shillings?
What is the experience of ICA in providing telecommunications services?
Why did the government in an opaque manner look for a investor in January 2023, before cabinet sat to evaluate the need to rescind the buyback from Helios?
The buyback from Helios under Uhuru was sanctioned by the National Security Council (NSC), was the rescission sanctioned by the NSC?
Now that parliamentarians sensationally probed the Telcom buyback from Helios, will they have the courage to probe this current sale?