Digital Diplomacy: The Integration of Information Communication Technologies in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1963-2014
Waithaka, Irene Nyambura
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This study delves into the implementation of digital diplomacy in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Digital diplomacy is a relatively new concept that is widel y rolled out and researched in the dev eloped countries.Developing countries are however still in the process of integrating ICTs in the conduct of public service. T his study explored the integration process in Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign affairs and Inter national Trade but with a bias to the sphere of diplomacy. This study’s core objective was to survey the use of ICTs in Kenya’s foreign policy and diplomatic trends. The researcher utilized Actor Network Theory as well as the three stages of e governance i ntegration as articulated by the Centre for Democracy and Technology. In reference to the methodology, the researcher employed purposive sampling in the selection of departments and respondents that would provide pertinent information . Primary data was sourced from interviews as well as official Government of Kenya and Ministry of Foreign Affairs documents such as the strategic plan and foreign policy. Secondary data was sourced from journals, text books, theses, newspapers and online materials. The study demonstrated that the foreign policy in Kenya is often shaped by the Presidency and appointed Ministers in Foreign Affairs. Jomo Kenyatta’s Presidency was noted for having laid the foundation of Kenya’s foreign policy and employed a delegated approach in it s management. President Moi exhibited presidential and peace diplomacy in the management of foreign policy. The Kibaki Presidency on the other hand espoused economic diplomacy while Uhuru Kenyatta’s presidency has edged towards presidential diplomacy given the many foreign trips taken. Kenya was noted to have taken a slow but gradual process in setting up the ICT infrastructure in the country and more precisely at the MFA&IT . The results indicated that i ntegration of technology in the ministry is informed b y the desire to enhance administrative duties as well as offer better services to clients and international partners. Further, the study established that some of the common uses of ICT at the Ministry included online dissemination of information, online sharing of documents and memos as well as direct communication. The study established that indeed ICT is gradually being harnessed in the foreign policy and diplomatic processes. Thus enhanced information gathering, knowledge management, policy planning and coordination as well as implementation. In addition, the study demonstrated that diplomatic processes precisely bilateral and multilateral relations have changed in light of ICT integration . Some of the changes noted include heightened virtual representation,new ways of sharing documentations in international conferences, compressions in costs involved as well as enhanced ways of negotiations.