Americans favour Kenya among African nations

Kenya emerges with the brightest reputation among four African nations included in a public opinion survey recently conducted in the United States.

The results suggest that Kenya’s image among Americans has not been substantially harmed by the largely negative news coverage of the country in the US media in recent years.

The survey of 465 US citizens in 40 states was carried out in late April by Dane Kiambi as part of a PhD dissertation at Texas Tech University.

Mr Kiambi, a native of Kenya, was subsequently awarded a doctorate in media and communications.

He notes that US reporting on Kenya in the weeks leading up to the survey was dominated by references to the International Criminal Court’s indictments of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

The findings also emerge at a time “when the US president has avoided visiting Kenya, and when the country has just been ranked as a ‘failed state’ again,” Mr Kiambi points out.

Kenya’s superior rating in comparison with Nigeria, Ghana and Angola may thus be due in part to the efforts of Washington-based public relations firms that have been retained by the Kenyan government for the past four years.

Chlopak Leonard Schechter regularly alerts US journalists to positive reports on Kenya.

The Moffett Group, another Washington lobbying firm, assists in burnishing Kenya’s image in the United States.

Representation by US lobbyists was a criterion Mr Kiambi used in choosing African countries to be included in his survey of 465 US citizens in 40 states.

Angola, Ghana and Nigeria have also hired Washington PR firms to manage their reputations in the United States.

Americans were asked to rate the four countries in accordance with several measurements.

The African states’ comparative appeal was assessed in such realms as security, political stability, economics, culture and athletics.

Kenya topped the charts in each of those subject areas.

“With Kenya having such reputational capital among the US public,” Mr Kiambi says, “it is up to the Kenya government to seize the opportunity and engage more with the Americans to increase tourism numbers, trade, and foreign investment opportunities.”

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