Kenya: Censorship laws averted for the time being
The International Press Institute (IPI) has postponed two draft laws in Kenya with “unusually heavy protest”. “Total political control” and “censorship” would be the consequences of the “Films and Stage Plays Act” and the “Books and Newspapers Act”, says IPI President Johann Fritz. For example, the Books and Newspapers Act stipulates that anyone who plans to publish something must register. Only those who deposit a million Kenyan shillings deposit (around 14,000 EURO) will be registered. The average annual income in Kenya is about 225 Euro. The deposit is collected preventively for potential penalties, should the publication offend or defame anyone, and must be renewed annually. The Films and Stage Plays Act also requires anyone who produces a film, video or commercial to register. Based on the concept of the planned production, the authority determines the risks of possible reputational damage claims and thus the amount of the deposit and decides on the granting of the license. Without giving reasons. A police officer and a representative of the licensing authority also monitor the entire production.
Only on deposit
The Ministry of Information is given the opportunity in the draft legislation to exempt certain companies from taking a license. “This opens the door to corruption,” says Fritz. He sees the reasons for the censorship attempt for video productions above all in the elections at the end of 2002. Government opponents would have hardly any chance of producing TV election spots at all. Already in November, the two drafts passed the first reading in parliament. The concerned analysis of an IPI partner organisation in Kenya drew Fritz and his team’s attention to the contents of the law and the second reading of parliament planned for the end of December. The “clear violation of Kenya’s international obligations” led to a particularly massive protest action. Letters of complaint were not only sent to the Kenyan Minister of Justice, President of the State and President of Parliament, as is customary with all IPI protests. UNO, Unesco, World Bank and the International Advertising Association (IAA) were also informed. Result: The Kenyan parliament postponed the second reading of the laws “to indefinite”. During a visit to Kenya at the beginning of February Fritz wants to “pursue the matter further”. And hopes for a confirmation that the laws are finally off the table.
The Republic of Kenya is located in East Africa and stretches on both sides of the equator. With an area of 582 646 km², the country is slightly larger than France. Kenya borders Sudan and Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast, Tanzania to the south, Lake Victoria to the southwest and Uganda to the west.
The coastal plain of the Indian Ocean is narrow in the southern section and widens towards the north up to 250 km. The coast itself is divided by numerous bays, reefs and offshore islands. Towards the west, the country initially rises to about 1,000 m, a slightly undulating plateau covers almost the entire north and east of Kenya. Individual mountain ranges tower above the plateau. The central part of Kenya is occupied by the Kenya highlands, which are located at an altitude of 1,500 to 3,000 m above sea level. The East African Rift Valley stretches across the central highlands in a north-south direction, stretching from Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) in the north of the country via other lakes (Lake Baringo, Lake Bogaria, Lake Nakuru, Lake Elemeteita, Lake Naivasha and Lake Magadi) to Tanzania. The width of the trench varies from 70 to 300 km, as do the altitudes. On both sides of the ditch there are mountain ranges of volcanic origin, in the southwest lies the highest point of the country, the glaciated Mount Kenya (5 199 m), the second highest peak of the African continent (after Kilimanjaro in Tanzania).
To the west of the rift, the central highlands of Kenya continue (with isolated mountains up to 4,300 m high), until the country drops to the basin of Lake Victoria in the far west (in which, in addition to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda also have a share). The northwest and north of Kenya is occupied by table land. The capital of Kenya, Nairobi, lies east of the East African Rift on the Athi Plain at 1 670 m altitude.
Kenya is a presidential republic on the basis of the 2010 Constitution and is headed by the President (Uhuru Kenyatta, since April 2013). He is in charge of both the government and the armed forces. The president is elected directly for a term of five years (one-off re-election possible).
The legislative power lies with the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly has 349 MPs, of whom 290 are directly elected by the people for a term of five years and 59 are appointed by the President. The Senate has 67 members, of whom 47 are also elected every five years and 20 are appointed. The Kenyan state is divided into 47 districts.
Although Kenya is the most efficient economy in East Africa, more than half of the population lives below the poverty line. The crisis that followed the elections in December 2007 only temporarily dampened Kenya’s economic prospects.
With a 55 % share of gross domestic product (GDP), services are now the most important sector. Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange income for Kenya, accounting for around one and a half million holidaymakers a year.
Agriculture accounts for over a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Almost eight percent of Kenya’s land is available for agriculture. Almost three quarters of the working population are employed in this sector. The most important agricultural products are tea and coffee, which are grown for export in large farms, as well as cotton, sugar cane and vegetables (beans, peas). For their own needs, small farms grow cereals, beans, sweet potatoes, manioc and bananas. The dairy industry is particularly important in cattle breeding. Fishing in the inland waters rich in fish serves the population’s self-sufficiency.
Industry (17% of GDP) has been growing continuously since the beginning of the 1990s and concentrates on processing domestic raw materials, producing mainly textiles, paper and tobacco products, cement, chemical products, machinery and vehicles. Kenya has deposits of soda ash, iron ore and gold. The main customers are Uganda, Great Britain, Tanzania, the USA and the Netherlands.
Kenya imports mainly machinery, petroleum, iron, steel and pharmaceutical products. The main trading partners for imports are India, China, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.
Kenya has a road network of about 65 000 km, of which about 7 800 km are paved. There are about 3 000 km of rail available, the most important being the line between Mombasa and Nairobi. Both cities have international airports. The currency is the Kenyan Shilling (= 100 cents).