Kenya Airways; Fall of the Pride

Country/area: Kenya

Organisation: Africa Uncensored Ltd

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 30 Sep 2020

Credit: Maurice Oniang’o (Producer, Director and Writer-Team Lead), John-Allan Namu (EP & Narration), Purity Mukami (Lead Data), John Gathuna (Editor), Sam Munia and Elijah Kanyi (Camera Operations), C Muema, M Njoroge, E Wanjala and J Ndindi- (Co-Producers)

Project description:

Kenya Airways; Fall of the Pride, is a four-part in-depth analysis of Kenya Airways and how it moved from a promising profit-making airline in the continent to a multibillion loss-making company, highlighting mismanagement, embezzlement and corruption that has brought down the company to its knees, surviving through government bailouts. We analyzed the company’s annual reports from 1996 to 2020, used leaked audit reports that the public had never seen/heard off. The documentary is timely as there is legislation in Kenyan parliament to nationalize the airline.

Impact reached:

Some of the major corruption, mismanagement and embezzlement the documentary uncovered include; the purchase of airplanes through a Special Purpose Vehicles registered in Cayman island a popular tax haven, the directors/owners of the company are unknown as the SPV’s are owned by another company which is owned by ‘unspecified charity organization’. One of the SPV was used to purchase 10 Embraer Jets at increased cost of over 400,000 USD each, costing the airline 40 million USD.

The documentary also revealed how one finance officer colluded with officers from Dubai bank to embezzle funds from Kenya Airways through repatriation of foreign currency without authorization. The officer and his wife benefited from the deals as the bank deposited a total of 22 million shillings to their personal accounts.  

We also revealed the unbalanced joint venture between Kenya Airways and KLM Dutch Airlines, where KLM had 2 members on the board of KQ who had veto powers in. This led to KQ buying old technology from KLM among them two planes at a cost of 2 billion shillings which KQ sold after 5 years at a combined cost of 210 million shillings.

Techniques/technologies used:

We collected/tabulated data from financial reports of the company from 1996 to 2019 on Microsoft Excel. We then used Microsoft Excel in analyzing the data, creating a time series and visualizing bar charts of the data. We also used Datawrapper to visualize the graphs.  

The other technique we used was interviews with various individuals among them former and current staff members of the airline, financial analysts and aviation experts


What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part of this project was access to the data as some of the financial reports were not public and some were hard copies scanned and saved as pdf by the company. Collection and analysing that data was a daunting task for the team.

The other major challenge we faced was access to Auditors Reports that we understood coud give us explanations for some of the loopholes that we were noticing from the financial reports.

ANother challenge was getting people to speak about the issues we had raised from the analysis of the financial reports of the company

What can others learn from this project?

Our major basis of this investigation stemmed from analysing the financial reports of the company from 1996 to 2019 and through that we learned a lot of factors such as mismanagement and embezzlement in the company which led to our investigations. Analysing each document in isolation i.e. each year as a stand alone would not have given us the results/trends that we noticed when analysed a few years together.

Project links:

Part One www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDzi76HGEg4&t=99s

Part Two www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m4PshaP0HY&t=36s

Part Three www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yp-6IEVdJkM&t=13s

Part Four www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a7UMTHyTNc&t=1s