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Kenya's Rich Cultural Heritage Yet Untapped Potential on the Global Stage

Walter Serem
01 March 2023
Walter Serem, Valuation Manager, Brand Finance Kenya

Kenya's Soft Power is rooted in its history, culture, and diplomacy, and this year’s Global Soft Power Index rated Kenya as 100th globally – a very low ranking, but with opportunity for future growth. Kenya's Soft Power is influenced by its diversity, natural resources, vibrant music and arts scene, and its contributions to regional peace and stability. 

Kenya gained independence from British colonial rule in 1963, and since then, it has actively worked towards building its Soft Power. In the 1970s and 1980s, Kenya's tourism industry played a significant role in its Soft Power. The country's beautiful landscapes, wildlife, and beaches attracted tourists from around the world. Additionally, Kenya's national parks and reserves, such as the Maasai Mara and Amboseli, were popular destinations for wildlife enthusiasts, further contributing to its Soft Power. These attributes have helped Kenya to earn a rating of 95th as ‘A great place to visit’, but will continue to face substantial headwinds when Western nations advise that terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Kenya. 

In the 1990s and 2000s, Kenya's Soft Power was enhanced by its cultural exports, particularly in music and film – but this year’s research by Brand Finance, however, finds that these historical achievement are not currently at top of mind.  

Kenya's diplomacy has also played a significant role in its Soft Power. The country has been actively involved in regional peacekeeping efforts, particularly in Somalia, where it contributes troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Kenya has also played a role in brokering peace deals in the region, such as the Sudanese peace agreement in 2005 – but few of these actions gain global awareness, leading to a ranking of 113th for ‘International Relations’. 


Kenya's Soft Power has also been enhanced by its economic growth and stability. The country's robust economic growth, particularly in the 2000s, has made it an attractive destination for foreign investors. Additionally, Kenya's government has implemented several economic policies aimed at creating a conducive business environment, such as the creation of special economic zones and the simplification of the business registration process. As a result, one area where Kenya is amongst the world leaders is in ‘Future Growth Potential,’ where Kenya earned a ranking of 16th overall. 

In conclusion, Kenya's Soft Power has been built over several decades, and it continues to evolve. The country's diversity, natural resources, vibrant cultural scene, and contributions to regional peace and stability have all contributed to its Soft Power. Kenya's Soft Power is a valuable asset that can be used to enhance its global influence and promote its interests – but there is certainly a lot of work to be done in coming years and decades. 

About the Author

Walter Serem
Regional Manager
East Africa