Fact-Checking DP Ruto’s Claims on National Debt After the Handshake

Kenya’s worsening debt burden featured heavily in the televised Presidential Debate held on July 27, 2022. While addressing the issue, Deputy President William Ruto who was the only candidate in attendance from Tier 2 mentioned some statistics on Kenya’s national debt.

“In our first term, we borrowed Sh2.2 trillion. From 2017 our handshake brothers have borrowed Sh4.2 trillion. That’s what’s the source of concern.”

Piga Firimbi looked into this claim.

Verification

Granular data on public debt available on the Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) official website shows monthly figures from as far back as 1999.

When the Jubilee Government took office in May 2013, Kenya’s national debt was at Sh1.907 trillion. By the end of President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP Ruto’s first term and the beginning of the 2017/18 Financial Year in June 2017, the national debt stood at Sh4.406 trillion. This is a Sh2.499 trillion increase from 2013’s figures. See screen grab below.

Ruto also stated that since 2017, the Jubilee Government borrowed Sh4.2 trillion. Data on the CBK website shows that by August 2017, the public debt was at KSh4.4 trillion.

DP Ruto’s claims on government borrowing in the events following opposition leader Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s historic handshake in 2017 are MOSTLY TRUE.

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Thomas Mukhwana

Thomas Mukhwana is a broadcast journalist and fact-checker. He is passionate about storytelling, sustainable development and policy in the African context.