Why Branding Kenya is an Uphill Task

Published on 31st May 2009

I am neither a brand specialist nor a keen political pundit in this country. What I know for sure though is that our political leadership greatly influences the perceptions on Kenya as a brand by the rest of the global community. The current influences are not likely to yield any positive results in the foreseeable future. Why do I say this? 

Kenya Rugby: Our pride           Photo: AE graphics
Sometimes last year, I was in a business forum where a renowned peace crusader in the region asked the listeners to ignore our politicians and move on with the business of creating wealth and employment for the benefit of the country. “After all, we can afford to ignore this small group of only 210 Hon MPs and about 4,000 councilors, instead of allowing them to continue holding us hostage,” said the seemingly agitated peace maker. But can we actually afford to ignore this “small” group of Kenyans whose pronouncements only, are capable of bringing prosperity or war to the country? 

Naturally, political leadership as well as legal statutes are key considerations that determine either success or failure of other national agendas. It follows therefore that the prevailing political situation at any time enables both local and international investors in making decisions on whether to invest or not in our country, as well as when and to what extent. When the moods of our leaders are tense and seemingly unpredictable in the foreseeable future, this spells doom for investments and business focus in the country. The country continually experiences an unhealthy situation where many key players in business decide to wait and see what will happen next. 

It is even more dangerous for a country where pertinent investment decisions and other national agendas are pegged on the moods of a few office holders, rather than the offices themselves. A country in such situations is not likely to make any worthwhile national progress. Unfortunately, this appears to be the situation Kenya. In that realization then, no efforts should be spared in entrenching accountable institutions through the constitutional making process, rather than leaving all authority to the office holders themselves.   

Only when the latter observation is embraced and implemented will Brand Kenya Authority and other national image management interventions have a positive impact in the country. For now, all the efforts and respective institutions are accomplishing is ultimately keeping a few Kenyans in employment but without achievement of any worthwhile results. 

Meanwhile, our electronic and print media is substantially to blame for the sorry situation that the country is continually experiencing. There are many positive things that are happening around the country. There are many business forums and workshops aimed at enabling Kenyans to focus their attention towards economic development, many of which are not considered newsworthy. The mainstream press particularly is more concerned with what is propagated by politicians across the country even when there is no value addition thus continually hurting the national brand.

By Mwangi Wanjumbi

Managing Consultant and Chief Trainer of Newtimes Business Solutions


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