Kenya Geopolitics

Rate this post

Kenya has established itself in the East African region as a country of great potential, deriving above all from having always pursued a pro-Western political line and from having benefited from a certain political stability and a moderate level of industrialization. However, due to internal tensions, corruption and critical situations at the borders, these potentials remained partly untapped and hampered the assertion of its leadership in the region.

Despite the country’s appreciable level of democracy, there was little alternation in power. The political history of Kenya has, since the year of independence (1963), only four presidents. The protagonist of the first fifteen years was Jomo Kenyatta, icon of the fight against British colonial rule, who held the position of president until his death in 1978. He was replaced by Daniel Arap Moi, member of the same party, Kenya African National Union (Kanu), which remained in power for about forty years. Only in the 2002 elections did the opposition Democratic Party, led by Emilio Mwai Kibaki, manage to win for the first time and govern until the last presidential elections of 2013. The 2007 votes, however, marked a joke. ‘arrest in the process of democratic consolidation of the country and have been a source of serious internal tensions: the suspicions of fraud that accompanied the victory of Kibaki, have resulted in outbreaks of violence between Kikuyu, Luo and other ethnic groups, costing more than 1500 deaths and 500,000 displaced persons. Kibaki negotiated an agreement with Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement, his main rival in the elections, which resulted in the formation of a coalition government in April 2008 with Odinga as prime minister.ICC) was called to intervene to prosecute those responsible for the violence and, in September 2013, started the process which also involved the current president and vice president, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. While Kenyatta’s case has been closed due to lack of evidence, but will be reopened if new elements emerge, Ruto still remains under investigation.

The last presidential elections did not generate violence and the results gave a clear victory to Kenyatta, son of the famous Jomo. The new president is the first to have to deal with the new Constitution, approved in 2010, which maintains the presidential system but provides for the devolution of some powers at the local level (to the 47 counties), the creation of an upper house, the introduction a Charter of Rights, the establishment of the Supreme Court and the abolition of the office of Prime Minister. The new text also established the creation of an independent commission to resolve the age-old issue of land reforms.

Kenya, in addition to being among the most influential countries in the region, is also among the richest in terms of per capita income, and among the most attentive to regional integration processes, in particular within the East African Community (Eac), the largest market for Kenyan manufacturing exports, and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). Nairobi has played an important role in the peace processes of its neighbors Sudan and Somalia, on the one hand by taking on the role of mediator between Juba and Khartoum, on the other by promoting the creation of a transitional government in Somalia, which was born in Nairobi in 2004. The Somali crisis represents one of the main sources of security risk, mainly due to the activities of the radical Islamic movement al-Shabaab on Kenyan territory. The country has good relations with major international donors and with the United States, an important ally against terrorism. In recent years, Nairobi has intensified relations with emerging countries, in particular with China, India and South Africa.

Population, society and rights

According to, the population consists of more than 40 ethnic groups. The Kikuyu are the majority group (22%), followed by the luhya (14%), the luo (13%), the kalnjin (12%) and the kamba (11%). Ethnic division affects politics and the economy (land disputes are often linked to ethnic conflicts) and ethnic tensions are quite frequent.

The prolonged periods of drought in the past two years have fueled competition for water control, generating violence which, according to the United Nations, claimed at least 310 victims in 2014 alone. Kenya is home to more than 530,000 refugees, including nearly 500,000. from Somalia and the remainder from Ethiopia and southern Sudan: the number has grown following the famine that hit the Horn of Africa in 2011. About 80% of Kenyans are Christian, but there is a significant Muslim minority representing about 10% of the population. Kadhi courts that apply Sharia law in some respects in areas where the Muslim population is majority are officially recognized.

The population growth rate is decreasing (2.7% in 2014) due to various factors including urbanization and the spread of HIV, whose incidence in 2013 was 6%. This phenomenon entails high costs for national health and has seen the government engaged for years in awareness-raising and prevention policies that have effectively reduced the incidence of the disease, which reached 14% in the mid-1990s.

In 2003, the government, led by the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc), made primary school free, bringing the net enrollment rate from 61% in 2002 to 83.6% in 2009. The secondary school rate records lower percentages, but it still went from 35% to 50% in the same period. The literacy rate is 72.2%, higher than in other EAC member countries.

Freedom of expression is generally respected and the Kenyan media are among the most active on the continent. However, there were some episodic restrictions on press freedom, for example in the period following the 2007 elections. The anti-terrorism law, approved in December 2014 and strongly opposed by civil society, was partly declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, in particular they are restrictions on the media and the limit on the number of refugees admitted were rejected. Corruption affects all branches of the administration and Kenya ranks 145 out of 175 countries in the 2014 Transparency International Perceived Corruption Index.

Kenya Geopolitics

You may also like...