Constraints in Kenya’s information landscape

by Dr. Tim Stevens

Recent accusations of Kenyan government media repression suggest researchers and investors will need to exercise caution when sourcing data on the east African nation.


US President Barack Obama’s visit to East Africa in July 2015 confirmed his star status in the region but will also have sounded alarm bells for some African leaders. In successive speeches Obama addressed systemic issues of poor governance and social injustice, messages calibrated to demonstrate government is a process of continual improvement rather than an end in itself.

Obama drew attention to the crucial role of the media and civil society in the first address by a serving US president to the African Union. ‘When journalists are put behind bars for doing their jobs or activists are threatened as governments crack down on civil society’, said Obama, ‘then you may have democracy in name, but not in substance.’

This will have resonated with many in the region, not least Kenyans, whose government stands accused of fomenting a new climate of fear and censorship in what has for many years been a robust and resilient media environment.

Sovereign Data looks at the Kenyan situation and explores the implications for data quality, media prospects, the legitimacy of the Kenyan government and the visibility of Kenya to the outside world.

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Citation: “Constraints in Kenya’s information landscape,” Sovereign Data Vol 1. No. 2 (August 2015).