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Kenya -- Communications

Telephone and Telecommunications Since 1977, when the East African Community was disbanded, the Ministry of Communications and Power has handled national and international postal and telecommunication services.

Recent decades have seen a dramatic expansion of telephone services. In 1970 there were 0.69 telephones per 100 people in Kenya, mostly in urban areas. Rural areas were far less well served, with only seven telephones per 10,000 people. During the 1970s, Kenya undertook a program to reduce the disparity between urban and rural communications which involved modernizing existing facilities, as well as opening 170 new post offices and providing telephone, telegraph, and telex offices in under-served areas. By the end of the decade, there was one post office for every 22,900 inhabitants, compared to one for every 28,800 at its beginning.

A major telecommunications development project, funded by the World Bank, introduced international subscriber dialing in late 1984. Exchange lines quickly rose from 70,000 to 106,000. Kenya's telecommunications are undergoing privatization; soon the Kenya Posts and Telecommunication Corporation will be turned over to private ownership.

The number of telephone in 1989 was:
337,000 telephones
69 persons per telephone.
The phone traffic (in millions of calls) in 1989 was:
Local: 5,737
Long Distance: 6,799
International: 15,776.

Postal Service: There are 853 post offices handle over 210,639,000 pieces of mail in 1986.

Radio, Television, and Film: Radio broadcasting was conducted by the Voice of Kenya until it was replaced in 1989 by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. It produces and broadcasts programming in Swahili, English and in 18 ethnic languages. In 1989, there were 13 people per radio receiver. Kenya has two television stationsthe government operated KBC (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, formerly the Voice of Kenya) and the KTN. They produce news shows, situation comedies, broadcast music performances and bolster their local programming with shows from England and the United States. The Nation Group has been given a broadcasting license and may soon begin broadcasting. Kenya had six television transmitters as of 1987. In 1989, there were 119 people per television set.

Publishing and Press: In the 1980s and early 1990s the press was under government attack. Journalists and editors were harassed, arrested, and detained for writing and publishing views critical of the government or favorable to the opposition. With muli-party politics there has been a lifting of censorship and an expansion of published media. However, the quality of the new print media varies greatly. There are currently five daily newspapers published in Kenya with a total circulation of over 280,000. Two of the papers, Kenya Times and Taifa Leo (published in Swahili) are operated by KANU. The Daily Nation, with the largest circulation of 165,000 is an independent paper operated by the Aga Khan Nation Group that maintains a high level of reporting quality. Other dailies include the Standard and Kenya Times. In addition to the daily newspapers, there are 12 weekly and 40 monthly publications on a variety of subjects from law reviews to erotica. One example of a popular monthly magazine is Drum. On the cover there is a beautiful girl and features include erotic stories, advice columns, humor, and social interest stories. Kenya has a healthy book publishing industry with over 933 first editions published.

Other Statistics
Telephones: 357,251 (1989 est.)
Telephone system: in top group of African systems
domestic: primarily microwave radio relay
international: satellite earth stations2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 16, FM 4, shortwave 0

Radios: NA

Television broadcast stations: 6

Televisions: 260,000 (1993 est.)

Source: CIA World Fact Book

For Further Reading:

Maja-Pearce, Adewale. The Press in East Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania. London, 1992.

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