Mining Cabinet Secretary John Munyes has opposed the use of National Intelligence Service (NIS) in managing the Sh7 billion survey of Kenya’s mineral wealth.
Mr Munyes told Parliament on Thursday investors interested in the mineral data would question a survey coordinated by intelligence officers and not experts.
Kenya is seeking to determine the quantity of its underground minerals to guide investors seeking to explore mineral wealth.
“It’s a pity if the NIS is left to coordinate the project instead of the Ministry Petroleum and Mining,” said Mr Munyes.
“But now, what happens to the end results? We have to do it together because they need the ministry to certify that the data is credible.”
Parliament had earlier approved a Sh500 million budget for the spy agency to participate in the year-long airborne survey.
Mr Munyes said the Interior ministry, which houses the NIS, has since acquired equipment for the survey that was initially set to start in March.
Delays in implementation of the project have been linked to security concerns raised by the Ministry of Interior as well as consultants hired to supervise it.
The contract with Chinese contractor GETI has been put on hold, with the Cabinet opting for a multi-agency approach in implementation of the project. The multiagency team will draw representation from Treasury, Mining, ICT and Interior ministries.
UK-based International Geoscience Services (IGS) and Canadian firm Paterson, Grant & Watson Limited (PGW), which are consulting for Kenya, warned that survey design by GETI was not appropriate for the country.
The warning came amid fears that foreigners could use the data for their own benefit or put sanctions in its access after the survey is completed.
“As a Ministry, all we are pleading for is coordination as regards this project because after all we are the ones to certify it,” Mr Munyes told the National Assembly committee chaired by Kareke Mbiuki (Maara MP).
Kenya has proven deposits of titanium, gold and coal. The country is also understood to hold significant deposits of copper, niobium, manganese and rare earth minerals.
Successive governments have had little success in trying to develop Kenya’s mining potential, with inadequate data and an outdated legal framework discouraging foreign exploration companies.
Kenya plans to spend Sh3 billion on the first phase covering Migori, Homa bay, Siaya, Kakamega, Busia and neighbouring counties.