Kenya and its efforts on democratization and good governance

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2006 24 Pages

Politics - International Politics - Topic: Development Politics


Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 About Kenya – Data, Facts, History

3 Indicators of Democratization and Good Governance in Kenya
3.1 Indicators of Democratization – Empirical Assessment for Kenya
3.1.1 Freedom House Indices
3.1.2 Vanhanen´s Index of Democracy
3.1.3 Jaggers/Gurr Authority Trends
3.1.4 World Bank Index “Voice and Accountability”
3.1.5 Political Terror Scale Assessing Gross Human Rights Violations
3.2 Indicators of Good Governance – Empirical Assessment for Kenya
3.2.1 World Bank Indices of “Good Governance”
3.2.2 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index
3.2.3 Transparency International Kenya -- Bribery Index
3.2.4 Human Development Index
3.2.5 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per Capita

4 The Current Status of Development in Kenya

5 Conclusion


1 Introduction

The UN Human Developing Report 2005 states that Kenya is one of the world's developing countries. The Human Developing Index published in this report specifies that Kenya has a low human development and thus its rank is 154 of 175 UN member states. This raises the question if the government of Kenya has implemented action to improve its development status and what sort of actions this has been. So, first, the status of development in a country must be assessed. After analyzing the data, concrete measures can be implemented. Berg-Schlosser describes in his abstract a bright range of indicators that exist for assessing development processes in a country. He points out that there is an urgent need for indicators which are used as benchmarks in international relations or for decisions for development by the IMF, World Bank and others. Generally, he emphasizes that the interpretation of the indicators must be done carefully. Often there are problems with the proper conceptualization and the operationalization of certain notions. Problems and limitations of such data analysis still remain.[1] After a short introduction in chapter 2 about the important facts of Kenya, this essay tries to figure out in chapter 3 which indicators of democratization and good governance exist and how they asset the Kenyan efforts on these topics in general. The data is visualized in time graphics and a short description of the main aspects is given. It must be mentioned that a detailed analysis of the existing data would spread the limits of this essay and must be discussed in another context. Furthermore, chapter 4 describes the current state of development in Kenya regarding the most important key factors.

2 Kenya – Data, Facts and History

The Republic of Kenya is situated at the east coast of Africa with the Indian Ocean at the southeast border. The country is surrounded by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, and Sudan to the northwest.

After Portuguese, Omani Arabian, German and British colonial presence from 1505 to 1963 Kenya declared its independence on December 12, 1963. From October 1952 to December 1959, the Mau Mau rebellion was fighting against British occupation.

The post-colonial times were characterized by a democratization process with ups and downs. The first direct elections for Africans to the Legislative Council were held in 1957. Further presidential elections in 1979, 1983 (snap elections) and 1988 were held under the single party constitution. The 1983 elections were held a year early, and were a direct result of an abortive military coup attempt on August 1, 1982. The election system of 1988 included that voters were supposed to line up behind their favourite candidates instead of filling in a secret ballot. Several contentious clauses, including the one allowing only one political party were changed in the following years. The 1992 and 1997 multiparty elections were democratic but flawed. In 2002 Mwai Kǐbakǐ, running for the opposition coalition "National Rainbow Coalition" — NARC, was elected as president. The elections, judged free and fair by local and international observers, marked a new start in Kenya's democratic evolution.

The post-colonial constitution gives the president nearly unlimited power and sovereign immunity from the law. Eventually, the constitution is going to be rewritten, but the coalition members differ between a centralized presidential system and parliamentary system with prime minister.[2]

The following table delivers some main data about Kenya[3]:

Chart 1: Main data about Kenya

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Actually, the United States of America have a high interest in the political, economical and social development of Kenya. They support these efforts (see USAID/Kenya)[7] so that Kenya became the largest and most diversified economy and has the most developed infrastructure in the East Africa region. However, Kenya's gross domestic product grew at an annual average rate of 2.2 percent in the past decade. This growth is not sufficient to keep up with population growth. Nonetheless, the World Bank estimates that the country could grow by more than 6 percent per annum with the implementation of a serious reform program as outlined in the Government of Kenya´s Economic Recovery Strategy.[8]

To describe and evaluate the status of democratization and good governance in Kenya it is important to examine available indicators. The following chapter provides data in form of long-term graphics for analyzing the democratization and good governance in Kenya in a longer period.

3 Indicators of Democratization and Good Governance in Kenya

Eventually, there exist several concepts for assessing “democratization” and “good governance”. The purposes of these concepts vary. Berg-Schlosser has identified three major purposes. One intention may be in developing a comprehensive typology of political systems that delivers data about more or less “democratic” forms among them. Another aim may be to classify sub-types of democratic political systems such as “presidential” or “parliamentary” ones and others. Finally, the collected data may be used to improve and qualify democratic systems by finding out deficiencies and developing measures for desired alternative solutions.[9]

Today, a wide range of indicators for assessing “Democratization” and “Good Governance” can be found. Not all indicators can be listed in this essay. Also the limits of such indicators must be considered by a scientific analysis. So contradictions between several indicators might occur. The following chapters present the indicator values for Kenya without discussing its limits.[10]

3.1 Indicators of Democratization – Empirical Assessments for Kenya

Indicators of democratization assess the state of the affairs in a country at a certain point in time. Therefore, it is common that countries´ scores may be higher at one time and lower at another time.[11] The only indices that deliver data over a longer period of time are the ones mentioned by Vanhanen, Gurr and Freedom House[12].

3.1.1 Freedom House Indices

The Freedom House indices are being published every year since 1972. There are two indices covering important dimensions of democratic systems. The index of political rights includes competitive, fair and free elections. The index of civil liberties concerns freedom of information, organization, religion, the absence of arbitrary repressive measures by the state and others. The scores of these indices lie on a scale of 1 to 7 whereas 1 is being the best value.[13]

Graph 1: Freedom House Indices for Kenya 1972 – 1987 (own illustration)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Graph 2: Freedom House Indices for Kenya 1987 – 2004 (own illustration)

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The values from 1972 to 2004 for Kenya vary considerably. Starting in 1972 with a value of 5 in political rights and a value of 4 in civil liberties, the indices achieved there worst value in 1995 and 1996 where political rights scored 7 and civil liberties 6. The following years the indices showed a constant scale of 6 (political rights) and 5 (civil liberties). In 2002 the scores declined slowly to 4 and in 2003 and 2004 they reached their best values ever with 3. As Freedom House assesses a positive democratization at a score of 2.5 or higher, Kenya belongs obviously to the developing countries needing support in improving their democracy. Eventually, the way of improving democracy in Kenya seems to be the right way.


[1] See Berg-Schlosser (2002), pp. 1 – 36.

[2] See Wikipedia (2006): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenya.

[3] See ibid.

[4] According to cia.gov, estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

[5] See UNDP (2005): http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2005/pdf/HDR05_HDI.pdf.

[6] See ibid.

[7] See USAID (2006): http://www.usaidkenya.org/index.html.

[8] See http://www.usaid.gov/locations/sub-saharan_africa/countries/kenya/.

[9] See Berg-Schlosser (2002), p. 5.

[10] For a detailed analysis about the limits of the indicators please view Berg-Schlosser (2002), pp. 1 – 36.

[11] See Berg-Schlosser (2004), p. 57.

[12] See Vanhanen (1984, 1990, 1997), Gurr/Jaggers/Moor (1990), Jaggers/Gurr (1996) and Freedom House (1978) ff. cited in Berg-Schlosser (2002), p. 6.

[13] See Berg-Schlosser (2002), pp. 7ff.


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ISBN (Book)
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University of Marburg – Politikwissenschaften
Kenya Democratization Good Governance Good Governance Demokratie Politikwissenschaft Afrika



Title: Kenya and its efforts on democratization and good governance