Kenya appoints central bank economist as new head of debt management office

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya has named central bank economist Raphael Owino as the new head of its debt management office, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.

Owino takes over from Haron Sirima, who told local media in January that he wanted to make way for someone younger.

"His (Owino's) expertise in public debt management, particularly in achieving and maintaining sustainable public debt, reducing long-term debt servicing costs, and managing the risk of contingent liabilities, will be a significant asset," the finance ministry said in a post on social media platform X.

Kenya's public finances were in focus early this year because of concerns it could default over a $2 billion international bond, and more recently because of violent protests that forced President William Ruto to withdraw planned tax hikes.

The withdrawal of the tax increases could complicate efforts to meet International Monetary Fund targets and make borrowing more costly, investors and analysts say.

The finance ministry bought back most of the $2 billion bond in February by issuing a new $1.5 billion bond before paying off the rest last month.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Alexander Winning and Christina Fincher)