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This month, Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) launched its report “the State of the Internet in Kenya 2016”. The report was launched under its “iFreedoms Kenya” project, which promotes human rights and media rights online in Kenya. This is the second annual report, following last year’s report blogged about here, that maps out the Internet landscape in Kenya. This year, it once again documents significant events that have taken place. A copy of the report is available here.

According to data culled by BAKE from the 36 most active blogs within the BAKE servers and individual blog stats between October 2015 and October 2016, monthly visits (readers) increased  by 46 per cent from 12.4 Million to 18.1 Million. In this connection, the lifestyle blogs category saw the highest growth recording 69 per cent, followed by the business blogs category with 46 per cent and creative writing with 36 per cent. Notably, the readership of the blogs under politics category decreased by 47 per cent followed by entertainment by 37 per cent. This growth is attributed to Kenya’s increase in mobile penetration from 89.2% to 90% which is equivalent to 37.7 million internet users (predominantly mobile internet users) according to data from Communications Authority of Kenya.

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According to the BAKE report, the increase use of social media tools and web blogs is contrasted with a systematic crackdown on freedom of expression online with at least 60 incidences of bloggers and journalists being arrested in the past year. In some instances, these reported arrests were intended to intimidate social media users and bloggers since they were presented in court but the majority of the time, they were arrested on Friday and held until Monday then released. In this connection, the report hails the High Court judgment in the Andare case as a relief for online freedom of expression.

It is notable that BAKE has been actively engaged in the review of  the ICT Practitioners Bill as the representative of bloggers and online content  creators.   The bloggers association was also  engaged in the review of the Films, Stage Plays  and Publications Bill, 2016 because some parts  of it touch on online content.  Perhaps as an indication of the BAKE’s growing prominence, its Chairman was appointed as Board Director at Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), the national copyright office during the period under review.