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Pledges at Kenya Donors Conference Exceed Expectations - 2003-11-25

Kenya's finance minister said Tuesday donor countries attending a meeting in Nairobi have pledged more financial assistance for Kenya than he had expected. But neither he nor any other official would say exactly how much money donors pledged.

Finance Minister David Mwiraria assured Kenyans that he had, in his words, a little more money in his budget than he thought, thanks to help from 25 donor governments and financial institutions that met in Nairobi this week.

But Mr. Mwiraria and other officials would not give any figures.

The World Bank's country director for Kenya, Mokhtar Diop, said the total amount would be known next week.

"I'm just here speaking for a group of donors, and it includes colleagues who have different procedures, and some of them would not be comfortable to disclose something that they need to clear with their own administration," he said.

Mr. Diop said the World Bank committed $50 million for immediate budgetary support. The United States had said earlier the U.S. aid amounted to $78 million this year and will likely remain at that level through 2006.

The two-day donors meeting follows on the heels of a $253 million loan that the International Monetary Fund approved for Kenya, the first time it has done so in three years.

In an earlier interview, an international economist based in Nairobi, Moses Kiptui, said the government was expecting an additional $390 million.

Among Kenya's economic priorities are building and upgrading roads, reforming the civil service, improving primary education and boosting national security.