With the rapid adoption of mobile phones in Africa, social media has suddenly enabled ordinary citizens to engage public figures directly. This has led to tremendous change in public life. Public institutions are benefiting from the increased participation of ordinary Africans in the political process. Social media has also led to some negative unintended consequences. Kenya has been a leader in the spread both of mobile phone and social media use in Africa.
The research found evidence that social media is empowering ordinary Kenyans to shape public institutions. The research found that those public figures and institutions that had adapted to the new digitised environment were influencing public discourse more effectively in their favour. It also found that a new class of Kenyans—the digital citizens—had greater influence with policymakers, and had an enhanced capacity to influence support or lack thereof for the latter at the grassroots.