Government of Kenya

Advising a Government in Transition

Following post-electoral violence in 2007, the Government of Kenya – once seen as a beacon of stability and democracy in East Africa – was viewed with anxiety and trepidation in U.S. policy circles and within the international community. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan helped broker a coalition government to lead the country out of crisis. The coalition government then turned to CLS Strategies to help restore the country’s image and communicate its reforms and policy goals within the U.S.

Using the knowledge gleaned from exhaustive qualitative research, CLS Strategies designed a robust communications campaign that advanced three main objectives: highlighting the strategic role Kenya plays as bulwark against instability in Somalia, demonstrating Kenya’s commitment to transparency and political reforms, and positioning Kenya as the economic hub of the East African region.

For four years, CLS Strategies worked closely with various ministries in Nairobi as well as the Kenyan Embassy in Washington to call attention to the coalition government’s milestones and achievements. CLS Strategies arranged high-profile events at think tanks such as The Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution; generated positive editorials in top U.S. newspapers including The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal; and organized journalist trips to Kenya to showcase the country’s growing industries and opportunities for investment. CLS Strategies also provided on-the-ground support for more than a dozen delegation visits to the U.S. over the course of the four-year engagement.

The combination of good policy and good communications has yielded many successes. In August 2010, Kenya passed a ground-breaking new constitution that ushered in sweeping judicial, political and electoral reforms. Kenya’s military operations in Somalia, which were once viewed with skepticism, are now credited with making significant advances against militants there. Meanwhile, multinational companies, including IBM and GE, have established new outposts in Kenya.  

Five years after Kenya’s image was marred by election violence, in March 2013 the country once again held elections. This time, however, the elections were widely viewed as free, peaceful and fair. U.S. leaders including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have praised the country’s progress and reforms. A country once consumed with crisis is back on track, and once again seen as an important and valued U.S. ally in the East Africa region.