Multiple sources have verified a years-long Chinese hacking operation targeting Kenya’s government. The digital intrusions targeted key ministries and state institutions with information on debt owed to Beijing by Kenya. Kenya is an important segment of the Belt and Road Initiative, and China highly values financial intelligence on its investments.
China’s foreign ministry denied any knowledge of cyber operations and called these accusations “baseless.” One regional analyst identified attacks against eight Kenyan ministries and departments over a three-year period, including the presidential office and Kenya’s National Intelligence Service. Another local cybersecurity expert found evidence of cyber operations targeting the foreign and finance ministries. In 2019, as Kenya’s financial difficulties escalated, a Kenyan official unintentionally downloaded an infected document as part of a Chinese “spearphishing” campaign. Kenya has used over $9 billion in Chinese loans for infrastructure development, and the African continent accepted nearly $160 billion from China between 2000 and 2020.