Kenya will ban government adverts in private media, according to a leaked memo seen by AFP on Monday, as the presidency announced plans to launch its own free newspaper.
Government advertising currently brings in some 18 million euros ($19m) per year for the country’s newspapers, according to an official at the Government Advertising Agency.
The letter from state house chief of staff Joseph Kinyua said that cabinet ministers had approved the creation of a newspaper to be known as MY.GOV “that will articulate the government’s agenda in a deeper and more accurate way for a better appreciation of government’s effort to improve the livelihoods of the citizens”.
The newspaper will also contain “useful news on government development programmes, which is currently unavailable through other media”.
The memo says that as part of efforts to cut costs, government officials will no longer need to use “resources allocated to them to advertise their services and convey requests for services from the market”.
It orders accounting officers to instead place their adverts in the government newspaper.
“Any officer found violating this requirement will be liable to surcharge of the amount spent besides other disciplinary action.”
Article19, a freedom of expression watchdog, said the policy to stop advertising in local media was “another calculated design by government officials to have control of media editorial content”.
Henry Maina, the NGO’s regional director, said he was “very concerned that this policy poses a serious threat both to the media editorial content and the management and operation of independent media in the country”.