A United Nations monitoring group has said in a report that the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia are receiving fees for allowing illicit exports of charcoal from a port under their control.
“Kenyan troops assigned to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) receive $2 (Sh202) per bag of charcoal loaded at the port of Kismayu,” the report indicates.
The 247-page report estimates that up to six million bags of charcoal have been exported annually from Kismayu and Buur Gaabo ports.
KDF may thus have reaped as much as $12 million (Sh1.2bn) a year from the illegal charcoal exports.
“The Kenyan contingent of Amisom continues to play a substantial role in the illicit export of charcoal from Somalia,” the UN monitoring group reiterated.
The report further indicates that Somalia is now based on an alliance between the Interim Juba Administration and business interests in Kismayu.
The group’s shift is said to result from the breakdown of a profit-sharing deal with Ahmed Mohamed Islam, the president of Jubaland State who is also known as “Madobe.”
“Once ‘Madobe’ cut Al-Shabaab out of a share of the proceeds from charcoal exports, the group retaliated, using coercion with the apparent motive of diminishing the revenue being accrued to the Interim Juba Administration from the continuing charcoal trade,” the report states.
The U.N. Security Council banned charcoal exports from Somalia in 2012 to cut a stream of financing for the Al-Qaeda linked group Al Shabaab.
In November 2015, Journalists for Justice revealed that sugar was also imported through Kismayu and smuggled across the border into Kenya, where it was sold without paying the high tariffs that Kenya imposes to protect its sugar industry.
“Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) are involved in illicit export of charcoal and sugar from Kismayu port levying a tax of Ksh 200 per bag of charcoal leaving the port and Ksh 200 per bag of sugar unloaded,” the journalists said in statement.
The group said Al Shabaab and Somalia’s regional Juba land authorities benefitted from the illegal trade, with al Shabaab levying a Ksh 105,000 tax on the estimated 230 trucks a week leaving Kismayu for Kenya.