The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) yesterday released ‘The State of Blogging & Social Media in Kenya 2015 Report’ and the same was officially launched by Cabinet Secretary for ICT Fred Matiang’i. The launch took place at the Nailab, one of Kenya’s top innovation hubs. The CS who was the Chief Guest commended BAKE for the invitation.
In his remarks, he noted that media trends are changing and that the internet is becoming the new media of choice even for the government.
Fred Matiangi emphasized that the Kenyan Government respects the blogging space, fundamental rights and the freedom of expression guaranteed in the new Kenyan Constitution.
“It is not the intention of this government to harass anyone online” He said.
He called on Kenyan Bloggers to apply ethical conduct in their engagements on social media in order to strengthen the democratic space.
“We are not that autocratic regime that will wake up one morning and shut down the internet. Let us bring a sense of culture that will create a value system and shape morals in the social media space” He added.
Matiangi confirmed that Social media have become a security challenge for countries all over the world. He called on BAKE to organize a framework where his office can meet with bloggers on a regular basis to interact on various issues facing the online content creator community of bloggers and Social media users.
He was joined by the BAKE Chairman Kennedy Kachwanya and the report’s project lead Njeri Wangari in launching the report which is part of BAKE’s iFreedoms Project.
The report seeks to highlight the significant gains made by bloggers in the promotion of free speech as well as in the creation of quality and diverse content about Kenya on the internet.
The event was attended by Government officials from the Ministry of ICT, the Kenya ICT Authority, Kenya Media Council, dignitaries from the Norwegian, US and Dutch Embassies in Kenya, civil society, Activists, bloggers and Social media influencers.
Michael Greenwald the Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Nairobi shared this in his remarks, “Bloggers play a huge and important role in democracy, the US Embassy is happy with our continued partnership with BAKE”.
Kenyan Award winning Photo Journalist Boniface Mwangi joined Kenyan Advocate Mugambi Laibuta, ICT Authority CEO Victor Kyalo, Ushahidi Director Daudi Were and Njeri Wangari for a panel discussion on the report during the launch ceremony. The panel discussion was moderated by the event MC, Robert Mwirigi Kunga.
Njeri confirmed the report was the first annual report and that BAKE would be releasing a similar report in the month of June every year.
Some of the key highlights from the report are:-
- There are estimated 15,000 registered blogs in Kenya with 3,000 being active blogs on the WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr platforms and Self Hosted
- Kenya has 2.1 million Twitter users. Of the above number, 700,000+ are monthly active users (MAUs).
- There are 4.3 million Kenyan users on the Facebook platform, this is according to Facebook’s monetization platform.
- The total number of data/internet subscriptions stand at 16.4 million and the internet users are 26.1 million.
- The value of online Kenyan advertising industry by the end of 2013 stood at Ksh.165 billion and this is forecast to rise to over Ksh. 301 Billion by 2018.
- Citizen Journalism in Kenya has not emerged from the kind of formal organisation with institutional support such as has been the case in South Africa. Instead it has been spontaneous, perhaps even ‘undisciplined’.
- Key moments in Kenya’s political history provide opportunities for studying some of its most notable characteristics
- There has been increasing pressure from government through the Communications Authority (CA) and the Media Council to regulate bloggers and subject them to the same manner of strict regulation as journalists.
- Bloggers and Social media users getting into trouble with law enforcement agencies: Of concern noted in the report is Section 132 of the Penal code that talks about the undermining authority of public office and misuse of licensed telecommunications equipment.
- Many Kenyan bloggers and influencers are unaware of the existing Kenyan laws that touch on internet use, the freedoms provisioned for from the Kenyan Constitution 2010 as well as the limitation that are in the existing laws.
- The need to expedite the enactment of the Access to Information law and the Data Protection law.
- There should be clear definitions of what constitutes hate speech and ‘causing annoyance’ as grounds for taking legal action against individuals.
- Create awareness among the media and human rights defenders on internet freedoms and encourage development of a network of advocates and educators on online freedoms.
The report is available for download at ifree.co.ke/ifreeke.