Kenya’s plans for industrialization by the year 2030 will have a major impact on the country’s media, writes Dennis Itumbi for Journalism.co.uk.
Intervention in economic policies, the tourism sector, improvement of roads, commercialization of farming and affordable credit to farmers are among a raft of radical measures proposed in the VISION 2030 document, whose overall goal is to ‘turn Kenya into a globally competitive and prosperous Kenya’.
The most notable changes are the proposed end to the currently retrogressive Official Secrets Act, which makes it illegal for local journalists to access government documents, and the introduction of a Freedom of Information Act.
The laws are contained in a voluminous document that also proposes to place Kenya in the league of fast growing economies alongside Malasyia and Thailand within the next 22 years.
Other changes being proposed in the development blueprint include a review of the country’s Media Act, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Act and the law governing media regulator the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK).
Hannington Gaya, chairman of the Local Media Owners Association, has welcomed the move.
“One can only hope that this new document does not end up on a shelf like all others before it, since it has good intentions, and for the first time the role of the media in development is recognized,” he said.
“The Freedom of Information [Act] in particular is a welcome move,” said Gaya in a phone interview.
The changes to the Media Act could make it mandatory for both local and foreign journalists to undergo specialized training before being accredited to cover general elections – part of efforts to restore a balance to the country’s media after last year’s disputed presidential election resulted in countrywide violence.
Further changes to the CCK will introduce news ways of monitoring and regulating language on vernacular radio stations, which were blamed for fanning the violence.