Kenya has signed a joint venture agreement to purchase a 40 per cent stake in the local subsidiary of the UK banknote printer De la Rue International after nine years of protracted negotiations.
But the transaction, valued at $6.5 million has put President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government on the spot for disregarding the watchdog role of parliament while committing public funds to projects that require public scrutiny.
“The joint venture will secure our position as a supply hub of currency and security solutions for the largest economy in East Africa and for the region, ensuring a continuing and stable supply of technically advanced currency,” said Martin Sutherland, De La Rue’s chief executive.
Under the agreement, De La Rue will continue managing the business after the completion of the transaction by the end of this year.
The joint venture plant in Nairobi becomes one of the three manufacturing centres of excellence for banknote and security printing for De La Rue.
Kenya is the only African country in which De La Rue has established a currency notes printing plant. Its other plants are in Malta, Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom.
The three currency note printing units will share up to $19.54 million of investment over the next two years.
The Kenya facility is expected to produce one billion banknotes a year with the potential to increase the production output by 50 per cent.
However, Kenya’s Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee had demanded the cancellation of contract on the grounds that it will undermine competitive practices by granting De La Rue long-term exclusive rights to government security printing contracts.