Kenya continues to be a hub for international business conferences and global events, such as the recently concluded Africa Climate Summit. The country remains well connected to Europe, the Americas and Asia with Nairobi acting as a gateway to further destinations in Africa. Interest in the country has only grown since the announcement of the U.S.-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership in 2022.
Kenya has made good progress towards building a modern and freely accessible company registry. The BRS online business registry can be used by any Kenyan citizen, registered foreign resident or anyone who has signed up for an e-visa. The registry itself can be used to instantly check if the name of any business has been registered. Beyond that, a request to examine the records of the company can be lodged, requiring a modest fee.
Kenya’s BRS has digitised its records, and some company records can be consulted online. A physical visit to a registry office may still be necessary for some cases, for example the incorporation information of much older firms. While information available can vary based on the company type, there is generally a good standard of useful data here. For limited companies core information (registered address, date of incorporation, etc.) is available, as well as more useful information including nominal share capital and the names and details of directors and shareholders in the firm. However, for the specific subset of limited liability companies the information available is restricted but often includes the nature of the business, date of registration and basic details of partners and managers.
Kenya has made good strides in establishing a searchable register of legal cases, however privacy restrictions often mean that details beyond basic docket information, such records of court proceedings, are only available to the parties involved in the case. The searchable online register and physical registries provide examples of case law and rulings and judgments of the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Those from lower courts are usually not available online and need to be obtained physically upon payment of the requisite fee. Although pleadings filed and court records are technically public they cannot be consulted without a specific application, and these are not usually provided to parties not involved in the suit. Occasionally for high profile cases the Court issues an order specifically restraining access. It is still possible to check whether a party is involved in active litigation in a specific court division of interest (e.g civil, commercial, criminal, anti-corruption etc) without receiving full details.
While the Kenyan constitution guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the press, the ability of the media to scrutinise power is limited by the networks of ownership and regulation that constrain journalists. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism states that “Media ownership is concentrated among the political elite”, highlighting that the Communications Authority of Kenya, the chief regulator for broadcast media, is engaged in “threatening to revoke the licence of media outlets that report on anti-government protests organised by the opposition”.
Elections have historically been a focal point for suppression of press freedom in Kenya, and last year's elections were no different. Reporters Without Borders previously rated Kenya at 69/180 in its press freedom index for 2022. However since the 2022 elections this has been downgraded significantly to 116/190. The current ruling United Democratic Alliance party has used political pressure to remove the heads of major press groups that disagree with it as well as using other actions to enforce self-censorship by news outlets.
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