Introduction

Kenya has
the most developed economy in East Africa and
the most sophisticated media in the region.

 

There are dozens of private radio and TV stations. They
broadcast mostly in English and Kiswahili. Some also broadcast in tribal
languages.

 

Kenya’s
mobile phone network covers 86% of the population. There are 20 million
subscribers. Mobile phone usage is soaring as competition pushes call costs
lower.

 

Kenyans are very sophisticated mobile phone users. Millions
of people use their handsets to make financial transactions, listen to the
radio and surf the internet.

 

Kenya
suffers from periodic drought. It is also vulnerable to the overspill of
conflict from neighbouring Somalia,
Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda.

 

There are nearly half a million refugees, stateless persons
and asylum seekers in Kenya,
mostly from Somalia.

 

There are also 400,000 internally displaced Kenyans. Most
were uprooted from their homes by violence during the 2007 elections.

 

Nairobi is a regional centre
for coordinating aid operations throughout East Africa.
It is also a base for broadcasting into Somalia
and Southern Sudan.

 

In August 2010, Kenya adopted a
new constitution that reduced the powers of the president and introduced wide-
ranging reforms. These measures remain subject to interpretation by parliament
and the courts, but human rights groups have welcomed the new constitution as a
significant step forward.

 

Humanitarian organisations planning to launch communications initiatives
with intended beneficiaries should coordinate their actions with other
stakeholders through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA) Kenya
office http://ochaonline.un.org/Default.aspx?alias=ochaonline.un.org/kenya
 and the Cluster leads. 

 

At a glance: 

Statistic

Value

Population:

40 million

Main languages:

English, Kiswahili

Other languages widely used in broadcasting:

Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin, Kamba, Meru, Kisii, Somali

Radios per 1,000 people (2004):

221

TV sets per 1,000 people (2004):

21

GDP per capita:

$645

Adult literacy rate:

86.5%

Mobile phone penetration:

51%

Mobile network coverage:

86% of population
35% of land area

Internet subscribers:

2.7 million

Ranking in UN Human Development Index 2010:

147 (out of 182)

Ranking in RSF World Press Freedom Index 2010:

70 (out of 178)