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ACA2K Kenya Node

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ACA2K Kenya Team

Kenya ACA2K Country Node

Dr. Marisella Ouma

Kenya research team member, Kenya Copyright Board & Innovative Lawyering, Nairobi, Kenya

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Dr. Ben Sihanya

Kenya research team member, University of Nairobi & Innovative Lawyering, Nairobi, Kenya

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ACA2K Kenya Country Rationale (Back to top)

Kenya was an important country for the ACA2K research network because of its role as a key East African economy and its status as one of the African countries among the 14 known as the "Friends of Development (FoD)" group at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). This group of FoD countries, which also includes other ACA2K study countries Egypt and South Africa, has given strong backing to the WIPO Development Agenda, as begun in 2005 when the WIPO General Assembly adopted a proposal from the government delegations of Argentina and Brazil for "the Establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO." Among other things, the FoD countries have advocated for:
  • reform of WIPO's governance and accountability structures;
  • the need for sustainable development impact assessments (DIAs) to become part of WIPO's core work;
  • greater WIPO support for technology transfer to the developing world; and
  • WIPO technical assistance to developing nations focussing on assisting these nations to make use of flexibilities allowed in terms of international agreements such as the WIPO Berne Convention, the WIPO Internet Treaties and the WTO TRIPs Agreement.
In 2001, Kenya passed a new Copyright Act that provides strong copyright protection with only narrow exceptions and limitations, especially in relation to access to learning materials. The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) and other stakeholders were, at the time of the ACA2K research, reviewing the Copyright Act with the aim of revising exceptions and limitations to ensure a balance between copyright protection and access to knowledge. Examples of flexibilities under consideration were inclusion of specific exceptions for the visually impaired, and more flexibility for non-commercial library and educational use.

Kenya has a vibrant publishing industry, and the National Book Development Council works to build the country's reading culture. 

The Kenya Library Association has been at the forefront of encouraging the use and dissemination of knowledge within the country. In the last three years the association has actively participated in international meetings held by IFLA and COMLA, and it and hosted the World Social Forum for Librarians in East Africa in July 2006.

Research Outputs (Back to top)

Legislation (Back to top)
Secondary Literature (Back to top)


Chakava, H. Publishing in Africa: one man’s perspective (1996) East African Educational Publishers, Nairobi.

Chege, J. Copyright law and publishing in Kenya (1976) Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi.

Makotsi, R. and Nyariki, L. Publishing and book trade in Kenya (1997) East African Educational Publishers, Nairobi and Kampala.

Muema, J. University libraries in Kenya: a study of their practices and performance (2004) Dissertation submitted to the University of Humboldt. Available at

front.html#front [Accessed 26 March 2009].

Ouma, M. ‘Law, technology and access to educational material’ (2008) paper presented at the 3rd Annual Access to Knowledge Conference, 10-12 September, 2008, Geneva, Switzerland. Available at access-to-knowledge-and-human-rights-panel/and-human-rights-panel/ [Accessed 30 June 2009].

Ouma, M. ‘The Copyright Act 2001: a new era for copyright protection in Kenya’ (2004) UNESCO Copyright Bulletin, July-September 2004.

Rotich, D. ‘Textbook publishing in Kenya under a new policy on school textbook procurement’ (2000) Publishing Research Quarterly 16 (2 June).

Sihanya, B. Constructing copyright and creativity in Kenya: cultural politics and the political economy of transnational intellectual property (2003) Doctoral dissertation, Stanford Law School, Stanford, CA.

Sihanya, B. ‘Copyright law and research in Kenya’ (2005) University of Nairobi Law Journal.

Sihanya, B. ‘Copyright law in Kenya’ (in press June 2010) International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law, Journal of Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law, Germany.


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