Political situation Ambitious goals – hampered by widespread corruption

Over the last ten years, Kenya has introduced important reforms. And in 2010 a new constitution came into force. The constitution sets out a list of basic rights and provides for the restructuring of Kenya's centralist state into a decentralised republic.

People on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya

People on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya

People on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya

The first results of this decentralisation process are already visible. Medical care and public services, for example, have improved in many districts.

In August 2022, Kenya held general elections (presidential, parliamentary and district elections). These were observed internationally and judged to be free and fair. The previous Vice-President William Ruto won the elections by a narrow margin and was sworn in as President on 13 September 2022.

Development strategy

In 2008 the Kenyan government published its “Vision 2030” development strategy, the objective of which is to transform Kenya into “a newly industrialising, middle-income country” by the year 2030. A series of five-year plans (currently the Third Medium Term Plan 2018 – 2022) are serving to implement the strategy. The government is making efforts to dovetail its national strategy with the global development goals of the 2030 Agenda.

Following his re-election in 2017, former President Kenyatta announced his “Big Four” political priorities: job creation through enhanced production; food security; universal health coverage; and affordable housing. The government is currently focusing on promoting economic growth through a programme of industrialisation and large-scale infrastructure projects. The necessary domestic policy reforms, however, have yet to be undertaken.

Corruption

Corruption in Kenya is endemic and a major impediment to development. The 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index (External link) drawn up by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International ranks Kenya 124th out of 180 countries assessed. Client politics is widespread in Kenya; the government shows little transparency and accountability vis-à-vis its citizens. In 2018, President Kenyatta proclaimed a war on corruption. Since then, there have been some successes. For example, high-ranking public officials have been arrested and several millions worth of unlawfully accumulated wealth have been recovered.

Human rights

The human rights situation in Kenya is comparatively good. However, human rights organisations criticise the excessive use of force by security forces. And basic rights are also violated in the violent conflicts that erupt between various ethnic communities.

Kenya has a comparatively open media landscape and an active civil society. In the run-up to the elections in 2017, however, journalists and bloggers who reported on sensitive issues such as corruption, land distribution or security faced attempts at intimidation, arbitrary arrests and incidents of physical violence. And civil society organisations that take a critical stance frequently find themselves facing restrictions placed on them by the authorities.

Security situation

Kenyan troops are part of the African Union’s peace mission in Somalia, AMISON. Kenya's relations with neighbouring Somalia remain tense. In recent years, the Somalian terrorist organisation Al-Shabaab has carried out several sporadic attacks in Kenya.