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Kenya leaders embrace social media to showcase work       

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan politicians, cabinet secretaries and other government officials have turned to social media to promote their work, in particular development projects, as the influence of the online sites grow in the East African nation.

The politicians and government officials are blowing their own trumpets on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube by posting photos and videos of the events they attend, the bursaries they give, the classrooms they are constructing, the roads they repair, relief food they are donating and whom they are meeting.

It is a new trend that has been entrenched in a country where being in the limelight, especially by being seen that one is serving the public, earns a huge mileage.

Leading from the front to showcase their work on social media is President Uhuru Kenyatta, followed by dozens of cabinet secretaries, governors and legislators both from the ruling coalition Jubilee and the opposition National Super Alliance.

“I received the FIFA World Cup trophy which is on a global tour ahead of the this year’s tournament in Russia,” a message on Kenyatta’s Twitter and Facebook pages read on Monday, accompanied with colorful photos.

Two days earlier, the president had posted on his social media pages, “Together with President @kagutamuseveni of Uganda when we commissioned the Busia one-stop border point. The infrastructure project will ease the movement of people and goods across our two countries for the prosperity of our people.”

Kenyatta broadcasted the message to his 3 million followers on Twitter and millions of others on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala are also using social media to showcase work, or market the nation’s tourism.

Ken Okoth, an opposition MP from Kibra, is among those who have used social media effectively to popularize themselves and their projects.

Having constructed a modern school in his constituency that is largely a slum in Nairobi, Okoth posted photos of the modern complex.

But it is all not rosy for the government officials and legislators as some have received a backlash from their posting. Last week, Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki was criticized widely on social media after posting photos of himself helping to construct a mud-walled classroom after arriving at the event in a chopper.

Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solution, noted that social media has become key in publicizing events and happenings and enables leaders to communicate directly to the public without going through mainstream media.

“It is a fast way to read the public mood about what happened as it offers an immediate feedback. I am sure the legislator who helped construct a mud-wall classroom after arriving in a chopper would never do it again,” he said.

The 2017 State of the Internet in Kenya 2017 report released by the Bloggers Association of Kenya last week showed that some 12 million Kenyans were on active on WhatsApp, 7.1 million on Facebook. Instagram has 4 million users while Twitter some 1.5 million people.

According to the Communication Authority, some 30 million Kenyans are internet users, with the number rising over the years thanks to smart phones, where they also access social media.


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