Kenya after the 2013 Election: Devolution and the Role of Civil Society

April 09, 2014
02:00 pm - 03:30 pm

When and Where

April 9th, 2014

1025 F. Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 20004


Kwame Owino 
Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Kenya)

Vukasin Petrovic
Freedom House


Dave Peterson 
National Endowment for Democracy

About The Event

In 2010 Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for a liberal constitution, which restrained executive power, devolved authority, and guaranteed basic rights for citizens. The March 2013 election, the first under this new constitution, brought the Jubilee Coalition into power and commenced the process of establishing 47 county governments. Kenya’s transition has so far been encumbered by disputes between national and local government over revenue sharing and transfer of power, as well as many other political and economic challenges. Legislation such as the proposed amendment to the Public Benefits Organizations Act (2013) and passage of a media bill, widely seen as attempts to limit space, could threaten democratic reforms promised by the 2010 constitution.

Kwame Owino and Vukasin Petrovic will assess progress and challenges over the past year in decentralizing governance and maintaining and expanding the environment for civil society and citizen participation. Panelists will discuss risks to devolution, highlight potential implications of the tensions between county and national government, and recommend approaches to keeping reforms on track.

The event will provide an opportunity to discuss the relationship between citizens and the state and present alternatives for reinvigorating Kenya’s civil society in order to safeguard democratic gains.

About the Speakers

Kwame Owino is the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Kenya), a leading think tank based in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to his appointment as CEO, Kwame headed the Institute’s economic regulation program for eight years and worked as programs coordinator. In these positions, he undertook research, policy dialogue, and public education initiatives in a variety of sectors including competition, education, and public finance. He is a graduate of Egerton University in Kenya and a Chevening Fellow at the University of Bradford in the U.K. His recent publications include Cost Effectiveness Analysis for High Schools in Kenya and The Science and Politics of Opinion Polls in Kenya. Kwame is also a regular contributor to the Daily Nation’s Blog:

Vukasin Petrovic is director of programs in sub-Saharan Africa, the largest and most wide-ranging regional portfolio at Freedom House. He oversees a number of programs that focus on voter and civic mobilization, accountability and good governance, support to human rights defenders, and the professionalization of civil society. Mr. Petrovic has over a decade of experience with a range of democracy support programs, including serving as Freedom House’s Project Director for Zimbabwe from 2006–2008. Before joining Freedom House, Mr. Petrovic was a consultant for several organizations in Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Africa and was a prominent student leader in Belgrade, Serbia during the 1990s.