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US warns Kenya on risk of losing billions to its financial management tool 

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Chief US Trade Representative Katherine Tai

The United States has warned Kenya that it risks losing billions of shillings through its major financial system called the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis).

The US analysis flagged vulnerabilities in the financial auditing tool notifying the Kenyan government of the impending risk.

According to the East African Publication, a fresh report from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) stressed the vulnerabilities of Kenya’s Integrated Financial Management Information System as reported by US companies doing business in Kenya.

  • “US companies have expressed concerns about Ifmis due to insufficient connectivity and technical capacity in county government offices, apathy from county government officials, central control shutdowns, and security gaps that render the system vulnerable to manipulation and hacking,” US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in the report.

According to the East African, The Kenyan Ifmis was designed to audit trails of all financial transactions with details of the person who logged in, the time, the computer used, and the action performed in efforts to end graft.

Before the alarm was raised by the US Agency, the Kenyan Ifmis had been the centre of major theft scandals. An interesting case occurred in 2016 when an elaborate syndicate was exposed after it came to light that some officials of an agency under the Ministry of Health, attempted to siphon Ksh30 million by hacking the system.

The syndicate behind the attempted heist included corrupt government officials and shady suppliers.

The heist which was stopped at the last-minute lays credence to the findings of the US report that indeed Kenya’s major financial system is susceptible to attack by hackers placing billions of shillings at risk.

What To Know 

  • Kenyan authorities use the Integrated Financial Management Information System to monitor the country’s finances with budgeting, procurement, payment, accounting, and reporting functionalities.
  • The Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS) was introduced in Kenya through the former Ministry of Finance and the now National Treasury in 1998, while piloting of the system in line ministries took place in 2003.
  • The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries.

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