Position:Brief Article



The May issue of African Business included an article (Return of the Ugly American) by Milan Vesely which was inaccurate and misleading in reporting on a controversial tender issue in Kenya.

In his article, Mr. Vesely lifted quotes out of context from a letter written by US Ambassador to Kenya, Johnnie Carson to the Director-General of the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), creating the false impression that he had interviewed Ambassador Carson and therefore had some direct knowledge of these events.

Mr. Vesely did not speak with the Ambassador and made no attempt to contact the Embassy in Nairobi.

Ambassador Carson did not canvass, threaten or bully when he wrote to the CCK about the way a telecommunications equipment tender was being handled.

The Ambassador's letter did not name, recommend or promote the interests of any particular firm or firms. All he did was to ask the CCK to play by its own rules and to insure a fair, even-handed and transparent tender process.

By any measure the CCK tender was flawed. The tender was issued and cancelled twice - each time an American company was the lowest bidder meeting the requirements of the tender. A third tender was reissued with new and different rules. In the end the contract was awarded, according to newspaper reports, to a company brought into the bidding only at the 11th hour.

There have been a number of other highly-publicised cases of improprieties associated with public procurements in Kenya. Reviews have been undertaken of Kenyatta National Hospital, Kenya Ports Authority, the Communications Commission of Kenya - to name just a few.

The Embassy will continue to publicise opportunities for US firms to bid on projects in Kenya. At the same time it must also make clear to all concerned that the kind of irregularities exemplified in the CCK tender process and others will greatly hinder any company's efforts to do business and thus create jobs in Kenya.

The ultimate victims of this situation are the Kenyan people: why should Kenyans put up with paying more for equipment or services when prices are artificially inflated to cover the cost of such questionable procurement practices?

Peter R. Claussen

Press & Information Officer

US Embassy



* In response to Mr. Peter Claussen's letter I would refer him to page 32, first column, where I state "In his written intervention ..." This, in my opinion, is not creating a false impression of an interview. The quotes come from a copy of the letter, leaked no doubt by someone with a vested interest in the CCK tender.

The point of the article is in the first sentence" An ugly flexing of its commercial muscle...

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