The role of Geospatial Technology (GIS) in the Kenya Vision 2030

The Kenya’s Development Blueprint (Vision 2030) was launched by H.E President Mwai Kibaki on 30th October 2006. It is a long-term development blueprint for the country, motivated by a collective aspiration for a much better society than the one we have today, by the year 2030. Its aim is to create a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life by 2030. It aims at transforming Kenya into “a newly-industrialising, middle income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens in a clean and secure environment”. The vision was consultative and inclusive stakeholders’ process that involved international and local experts, ordinary Kenyans and stakeholders from all parts of the country. The Vision is anchored on three key pillars: Economic; Social; and Political Governance. The economic pillar aims to achieve an economic growth rate of 10 per cent per annum and sustaining the same till 2030 in order to generate more resources to address the millennium development goals. The social pillar seeks to create just, cohesive and equitable social development in a clean and secure environment. The political pillar aims to realise an issue-based, people-centred, result-oriented and accountable democratic system. The economic, social and political pillars of Kenya Vision 2030 will be anchored on the following foundations: macroeconomic stability; continuity in governance reforms; enhanced equity and wealth creation opportunities for the poor; infrastructure; energy; science, technology and innovation; land reform; human resources development; security; and public sector reforms.

Geographic Information System (GIS) is a special type of information system that is used to input, store, retrieve, process, analyze and visualize geospatial data and information in order to support decision making. It is essentially a spatial decision support tool. GIS is the merging of cartography, statistical analysis, and database technology. The ability to separate information in layers, and then combine it with other layers of information distinguishes GIS from other information systems and is the reason why GIS hold such great potential as research and decision-making tools. GIS are now used extensively in government, business, and research for a wide range of applications including environmental resource analysis, land use planning, location analysis, tax appraisal, utility and infrastructure planning, real estate analysis, marketing and demographic analysis, habitat studies, and archaeological analysis. It has been extensively used in natural resources management, facilities management, land management and in the management of street networks like address matching, locational analysis or site selection, development of evacuation plans.

The role of Geospatial Technology (GIS) in the Kenya Vision 2030 will be discussed basing on the three key pillars of the vision: Economic; Social; and Political Governance.

Economic pillar: Moving the Economy up the Value Chain.

The economic pillar aims to achieve an economic growth rate of 10 per cent per annum and sustaining the same till 2030 in order to generate more resources to address the millennium development goals. This ambitious goal is to be attained by having a dedicated campaign to alleviate existing constrains to the future growth, efficient use of our resources, formalization productivity and distribution will increase jobs, incomes and public revenues). GIS will play a big role in economic growth business growth is location based and GIS has proven to be very useful in asset management, suitability analysis, policy making and impact analysis, site selection and marketing. This is done by having GIS help select the best areas for business location, best economic development activity that’s most suitable for what regions and it also assists to determine the growth if any in business and the impact of this to the economy. A GIS is a tool for managing business information of any kind according to where it’s located. You can keep track of where customers are, site businesses, target marketing campaigns, optimize sales territories, and model retail spending patterns.

Six key sectors have been identified to deliver the 10 per cent economic growth rate per annum envisaged under the economic pillar: tourism; agriculture; manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade; business process outsourcing; and financial services.

1. Tourism

Kenya aims to be one of the top ten long-haul tourist destinations in the world, offering a high-end, diverse, and distinctive visitor experience. This is to be done through; aggressively developing Kenya’s coast by establishing resort cities in two key locations; achieving higher tourist revenue yield by increasing the quality of service and charges in country’s premium safari parks, and by improving facilities in all under-utilised parks; creating new high value niche products (e.g. cultural, eco-sports and water-based tourism); attracting high-end international hotel chains; and investing in new conference facilities to boost business tourism.

Tourism is an activity highly dependent on environmental resources. It is also a phenomenon, which in the event of a lack of planning and management is likely to erode its environmental base. Hence, the strength of tourism planning can be enhanced by GIS applications. Geographical Information Systems can be regarded as providing a toolbox of techniques and technologies of wide applicability to the achievement of sustainable tourism development. Web based Geographic information systems provide ideal platforms for the convergence of tourist information and their analysis in relation to population settlements, surrounding social conditions, spatial characteristics, location and the natural environment. They are highly suitable for analyzing spatial data, revealing trends and interrelationships that would be more difficult to discover in tabular format. Moreover, GIS allows policy makers to easily visualize the problems, in relation to existing trends and the natural environment and so more effectively target resources. This application of GIS in tourism can have advantages both for tourists and for the tourism development authorities. The tourists will find, visualization of tourist sites through digital images or videos; valuable information on tourist locations; selective information like route planning, accommodation, cultural events and special attractions; easily accessible information over the internet;  and interactive maps that respond to user queries. The planning authorities will have great advantages in planning; database management; data updating; and planning for new site selections.

2. Agriculture.

Kenya aims to promote an innovative, commercially-oriented, and modern agricultural sector, through, transforming key institutions in agriculture and livestock to promote agricultural growth; increasing productivity of crops and livestock; introducing land use polices for better utilisation of high and medium potential lands; developing more irrigable areas in arid and semi-arid lands for both crops and livestock; and improving market access for our smallholders through better supply chain management. Vision 2030 aims at adding value to our farm and livestock products before they reach local and international markets.

GIS is used in a variety of agricultural applications such as managing crop yields, monitoring crop rotation techniques, and projecting soil loss for individual farms or entire agricultural regions. Balancing the inputs and outputs on a farm is fundamental to its success and profitability. The ability of GIS to analyze and visualize agricultural environments and workflows has proven to be very beneficial to those involved in the farming industry. From mobile GIS in the field to the scientific analysis of production data at the farm manager’s office, GIS is playing an increasing role in agriculture production throughout the world by helping farmers increase production, reduce costs, and manage their land more efficiently. The use of GIS software will help forecast elements that may affect agricultural productivity. Identifying and understanding the changeable elements in land empowers one to create accurate forecasts, and plan for maximum productivity. It will also provide a clear map of all geographical data, thus the ability to discover efficiencies for effective land management.

3. Manufacturing.

Kenya aims to have a robust, diversified, and competitive manufacturing sector, through restructuring key local industries that use local raw materials but are currently uncompetitive, exploiting opportunities in value addition to local agricultural produce, and adding value to intermediate imports and capturing the “last step” of value addition. In addition to fabrication, assembly, and material control, manufacturing operations involve activities similar to transportation, pipeline/utility, and municipal organizations; thus manufacturing could benefit from the application of GIS to a large class of logistics and operations management functions. GIS is used in site selection, material control, scheduling, and store planning and operations. GIS is thus becoming an integral part of the decision making process for the manufacturers.

4. Wholesale and Retail Trade.

The vision is to raise earnings by giving the large informal sector opportunities to transform itself into part of the formal sector that is efficient, multi-tiered, diversified in product range and innovative. GIS is used to do inventory, organize, analyze and present economic development data to retain or attract companies into an area. It offers the benefits of traditional database and multimedia systems while adding powerful spatial, analytical, map publishing and data integration capabilities that releases Internet map servers that are used to strengthen this lead and thus offering information to people who have an interest in an area and this attracts companies into the area. Organizations can go beyond standard data analysis by using GIS tools to integrate, view, and analyze data using geography. GIS accelerates retail location/site selection by identifying a site of high demand potential. GIS has solutions designed to help companies identify, analyze, and prioritize the fresh and upcoming business prospects and optimize existing sales and marketing programs to enhance their profit potentials.      

5. Business process outsourcing (BPO).

This is the provision of business services via internet to companies and organizations in developed world over the internet. We envision is to become the top off-shoring destination in Africa through attracting at least five major leading information technology (IT) suppliers, and at least ten large multinational companies and global BPO players to the country, and strengthening at least five local players to become local champions through stand-alone operations or joint ventures. GIS would provide tools for managing business information of any kind according to where it’s located; will keep track of where customers are, site businesses, target marketing campaigns, optimize sales territories, and model retail spending patterns.

6. Financial Services.

He vision is to is to create a vibrant and globally competitive financial sector promoting high-levels of savings and financing for Kenya’s investment needs; and for Kenya to become a regional financial services centre. Financial services/banking is a competitive business; market share and brand recognition alone are not enough to attract and retain customers. To be more effective, many banks, credit card companies, credit unions, and other financial services organizations are turning to GIS to help them understand their data better than ever. GIS allows organizations to: enhance understanding of risk, customer interaction, and economic conditions using spatial models based on geography and geodemographics; improve profitability and operational performance by sharing knowledge-based decision making across departments; grow line-of-business collaboration across departments with economic forecasts, neighbourhood studies, and territory analysis; reduce business complexity through a more accurate analysis of real-world market conditions; and increase market understanding based on a single, common view of business performance using geoextended workflow and business processes.

Social Pillar: Investing in the People of Kenya.

In building a just and cohesive society, that enjoys equitable social development in a clean and secure environment, the quest will be on the basis of transformation in eight key social sectors, namely: Education and Training; Health; Water and Sanitation; the Environment; Housing and Urbanisation; Gender, Youth, Sports and Culture, and special provisions for Kenyans with various disabilities and previously marginalised communities; equity and poverty elimination; and Science, technology and innovations. GIS is becoming a routine analysis and display tool for spatial data that is used extensively in applications such as land-use mapping for urban planning purposes, demographic mapping that is used for facilities location, utilities infrastructure mapping that’s used for precise gas, water, and electric line mapping, and multiple applications in natural resource assessment among others and like all technologies, GIS co-evolves with the societies of which it is a part.

1. Education and training.

Kenya will provide a globally competitive and quality education, training and research; and aims to be a regional centre of research and development in new technologies. This is to be achieved by integrating early childhood into primary education, reforming the secondary curricula and strengthening partnerships with the private sector as well as rejuvenate the special needs education facilities and incorporate adult raining. This entails the creation of new school, recruitment of new teachers, and creation of a supply chain of computers to schools as well as assistance being offered to the schools in poor areas.

GIS is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses almost each and every aspect of life and thus should be introduced in the Kenyan education curriculum. This will aid in demystifying science and technology and creation of employment. Building of new schools entails planning and mapping of old schools to make sure that some areas don’t have more schools than they need at the expense of others and GIS can offer the best maps for both the existing and the expected school locations. GIS population versus schools or versus literacy level  mapping of the Kenyan society would assist the government come up with the best locations of these new schools, the number of teachers required in each of the schools, as well as the best areas to introduce the adult learning centres.

2. Health.

The country aims to provide an efficient integrated and high quality affordable health care system. Kenya also intends to become the regional provider of choice for highly-specialised health care, thus opening Kenya to “health tourism”. This will be achieved through, provision of a robust health infrastructure network countrywide; improving the quality of health service delivery to the highest standards; promotion of partnerships with the private sector; and providing access to those excluded from health care for financial or other reasons.

GIS plays a critical role in determining where and when to intervene, improving the quality of care, increasing accessibility of service, finding more cost-effective delivery modes, and preserving patient confidentiality while satisfying the needs of the research community for data accessibility. GIS has continued to be used in public health for epidemiological studies. By tracking the sources of diseases and the movements of contagions, agencies can respond more effectively to outbreaks of disease by identifying at-risk populations and targeting intervention. Public health uses of GIS include tracking child immunizations, conducting health policy research, and establishing service areas and districts. GIS provides a way to move data from the project level so that it can be used by the entire organization. Using GIS for demographic analysis to estimate the demand for various types of services can benefit individual physicians. GIS can enhance customer service for a health care provider, using, dynamic maps that show the location of services and making them readily available over the Web.

3. Water and Sanitation.

Kenya is a water-scarce country. The country aims to conserve water sources and enhance ways of harvesting and using rain and underground water. The 2030 vision for Water and Sanitation is to ensure that improved water and sanitation are available and accessible to all. This will be realised through specific strategies, such as raising the standards of the country’s overall water, resource management, storage and harvesting capability, rehabilitating the hydro-meteorological data gathering network, constructing multipurpose dams, and constructing water and sanitation facilities to support a growing urban and industrial population.

GIS is used to study drainage systems, assess groundwater, and visualize watersheds, and in many other hydrologic applications; this would greatly help determine the best areas to sink wells and the wells distribution in relation to the population in those areas; it will also help determine the best areas to irrigate and thus boost the agricultural production, access to water and sanitation.

 GIS is also used in the planning, engineering, operations, maintenance, finance, and administration functions of their water/wastewater networks. Thusplans like water supply networks, and the underground canal from Tana River to Garissa would be best planned, executed and managed using GIS which would help determine the best locations of these networks. Creation of dams is a task that requires determinations of dam locations and the lake size created by the dam; the best locations of these dams can be determined by GIS through mapping of soil structures.

4. The Environment.

Kenya aims to be a nation that has a clean, secure and sustainable environment by 2030. This will be achieved through: promoting environmental conservation to better support the economic pillar’s aspirations, improving pollution and waste management through the application of the right economic incentives, commissioning of public-private partnerships for improved efficiency in water and sanitation delivery, enhancing disaster preparedness in all disaster-prone areas and improving the capacity for adaptation to global climatic change.

GIS is used every day to help protect the environment; it is used to produce maps, inventory species, measure environmental impact, or trace pollutants. In the conservation and rehabilitation of our forest cover, GIS is essential as it will help it determining of the extent of destruction of the forests and thus come up with a proper plan on the conservation measures and mechanisms. Comparison of surfaces modelled by use of GIS at different times (years) would help curb further destructions and map out areas to be reclaimed back. Solid waste management can best be accomplished through the use of GIS; an example is the relocation of the Dandora dump site; an evaluation of the new dumping site in terms of environmental impact on the population is best done through GIS. Kenya depends highly on wildlife for her tourism industry; there is thus the need to map out the migratory routes of the wildlife to minimize the human-wildlife conflict; and even reclaim wildlife conservation areas.

5. Housing and Urbanisation.

The 2030 vision for housing and urbanisation is “an adequately and decently-housed nation in a sustainable environment.” This will be attained through: better development of and access to affordable and adequate housing, enhanced access to adequate finance for developers and buyers, pursuit of targeted key reforms to unlock the potential of the housing sector, and, initiation of a nationwide urban planning and development campaign, starting with Kenya’s major cities and towns. GIS is used to help visualize and plan the land use needs of cities, regions, or even national governments. Thus GIS would be used in the visualization and planning for new housing or upgrading of the existing housing schemes; it will also be extensively used in the planning and development of new metropolis like the upcoming Tatu and Konza cities. Land mapping through GIS will highly improve on the speed of service delivery and will eliminate the problems associated with unplanned development in the cities. Well planned cities/urban cities will result in well managed resources including housing for the urban populace.

6. Gender, Youth and Vulnerable groups.

The vision is to have gender equity in power and resource distribution, improved livelihoods for all vulnerable groups, and responsible, globally competitive and prosperous youth. Kenya also aims to capitalise on her international reputation as an “athletic superpower” by opening up the country for top global sports events, encouraged by corporate sponsorship. The Government will provide stricter enforcement of copyright laws in music and the performance arts, and provide facilities for the most talented musicians and actors. The country aims to be a competitive destination for global film producers. GIS should be used in population mapping in order to come up with a better formula for increasing participation of women in all economic, social and political decision making (an example in the increased number of female parliamentary representatives); this will also enhance the equitable distribution of the youth and female enterprise funds and the construction and distribution of social and economic amenities based on the population size. GIS will also be used in the financial management of the allocated funds in the administrative areas, reducing cases of embezzlement of public funds and biased allocation of funds.

7. Equity and poverty elimination.

The vision is to reduce the number of people living in poverty to a tiny proportion of the total population. Kenya is aiming to attain a society that guarantees equality of opportunity in accessing public services and providing income generating activities as widely as possible.  Kenya should learn from other countries who have embraced GIS in alleviating poverty; for example, the ecological dimension of poverty, watershed atlas, vulnerability atlas and mapping of the food insecurity in rural and urban India have been the efforts, closer to direct poverty mapping, in support of poverty alleviation process in the country. All these have been the products of information technology applications, especially remote sensing and GIS techniques. There is thus the need for mapping of the current poverty distribution in the country which can be done using GIS and from this map the government can place citizens at a level of income sufficient to cater for basic requirements of a healthy, productive life to regions where they do not exist currently. This would go a big way into assisting reduce inequalities across the economic and social initiatives proposed by vision 2030.

8. Science, technology and innovations.

Vision 2030 will be based on the creation of international competitiveness through more efficient productivity at the firm and household level with the government support. In order to achieve this there is need for more efficient improvement of social welfare, education curricula and specialized research centres, universities as well as business firms and agriculture. There is need for the country to come up with policies and centres whose sole responsibility is to instil the culture of science, technology and innovation to our populace in order to attain the standards in the aspirations of the Vision 2030. There will be no development if technology is put aside as we try to meet the goals. GIS, being a multidisciplinary application, will greatly aid in the goals. Each and every development carried out, for instance, transport networks, housing, urban and regional planning, poverty mapping, expansion and diversification of education, crime mapping, resource management, asset management and location planning, public health planning and disease surveillance, and expansion of social amenities, has a spatial concept and only systems with spatial capabilities (GIS), are best suited to handle the applications.

Political Pillar: Moving to the Future as One Nation.

The political pillar aims to realise an issue-based, people-centred, result-oriented and accountable democratic system. The transformation of the country’s political governance system under Vision 2030 will take place across five strategic areas: rule of law; electoral and political processes; democracy and public service delivery; transparency and accountability; and security, peace building and conflict management.

1. Rule of Law.

The vision is “adherence to the rule of law as applicable to a modern, market-based economy in a human rights-respecting state”. As our legal systems embrace the use of technology in their operations, GIS will come in handy in cases of mapping the locations of the judicial installations for ease access by the populace, crime mapping and compliance of the law. An instance is the mapping of tax compliance amongst property owners in an urban area and traffic offenders.

2. Electoral and political processes.

The 2030 Vision seeks to cultivate “genuinely competitive and issue-based politics”. Specific strategies will involve, introducing laws and regulations covering political parties, enhancing the legal and regulatory framework covering the electoral process, and conducting civic education programmes to widen knowledge and participation among citizens, leading to an informed and active citizenry. The role of GIS will be in the mapping of political hooliganism ‘hotspots’, electoral boundaries, political parties’ popularity within the country, level of political awareness in different location of the country, and the level of civic education required per region. It will also help in the improvement of voter tally reporting and recording to real time and thus reduce the cases of results manipulation.

3. Democracy and public service delivery.

The aim is to create “a people-centred and politically-engaged open society”. Geographic information systems provide unparalleled power to examine social, economic, and political circumstances. It can be used to come up with databases that are accessible to the public with information on the all that appertains to the governed and the governors with reference to their geographical locations, basic rights and legalities, and public amenities. This will open up the populace to the areas/sectors neglected by the government in service provision and thus help in addressing the governance issues.


4. Transparency and accountability.


The vision is to have transparent, accountable, ethical and results-oriented government institutions. This will be attained through strengthening the legal framework for anti-corruption, ethics and integrity, promoting results-based management within the public service, encouraging public access to information and data,  introducing civilian oversight around the key legal, justice and security institutions, and strengthening parliament’s legislative oversight capacity. GIS will be used in the creation of databases with information on all areas of operations in government services to the populace; making the databases accessible will improve transparency and accountability. Through the interfaces, the citizenry will have a forum for participating in governance and administration. With the era of government transparency and accountability, there is need for showing not only the way government is spending money but also where money is being allocated. Maps help us describe conditions, situations, and help tell stories, often related to one’s own understanding of content.  Using maps helps citizens quickly visualize and understand what the government is doing in the areas that are important to them. GIS can be used as an effective tool in responding to the increasing demand for government transparency; it has promoted the concept that online mapping and open access to geospatial data could create a more open and transparent government. Through Web GIS, the government can deliver information with more context and citizens will be able to visualize and understand the implications of various government economic activities.


5. Security, peace building and conflict management.


Vision 2030 aims at “security of all persons and property throughout the Republic”. This will be achieved through: promoting public-private cooperation and civilian/community involvement for improved safety and security, deepening policy, legal and institutional reform for improved enforcement of law and order, promoting national and inter-community dialogue in order to build harmony among ethnic, racial and other interest groups, promoting peace building and reconciliation to improve conflict management and ensure sustained peace within the country, and, inculcating a culture of respect for the sanctity of human life that does not resort to the use of violence as an instrument of resolving personal and community disputes. This should start with the family, schools, the church and all public institutions. GIS data and analysis are used for boundary delimitation and demarcation, field mission planning and operations, humanitarian intervention, logistics, resource allocation, and critical analysis and visualization for situational awareness and security. Through the use of mapping applications, the government will be able to solve problems on boundary conflicts; this will enhance peaceful coexistence amongst communities. The security arms of the government will benefit greatly if GIS was incorporated into their operations: Inventory of location of police stations, crimes, arrests, convicted perpetrators, and victims; plotting police beats and patrol car routing; alarm and security system locations, location of key emergency exit routes, their traffic flow capacity and critical danger points.


Which way?


GIS, being a multidisciplinary science, integrates so well in all aspects in focus in the vision 2030. Its application would foster a faster realisation of the goals, while offering a platform for the analysis of the progress against set targets, with options on continued review of the targets while ensuring set standards are met.  Each and every component in the vision has a geographic component; be it designing new roads, rail routes, new urban settlements, new businesses, emergency evacuation routes, climatic conditions suitable for a certain agricultural activity, location and distribution of schools and social amenities or the right soil type for a certain crop; it is thus imperative that the government impresses GIS as it is best suited to deal with data with a spatial component. GIS will also aid in a faster decision making as it eliminates the manual processes in many tasks, for instance, map making, and will increase the pool of the populace able to use and interpret geographic data.

 Despite the various GIS applications available for use, there are still many challenges preventing the uptake of the technology in our processes. This may explain why it might take a long time before the technology is fully incorporated into our government plans. The bureaucratic policy in government procurement coupled with the lack of will to embrace the technology, are a great hindrance in the acquisition of the hardware and software necessary to implement the GIS applications. The cost of the software is also a hindrance; the GIS software houses have placed a massive price tag to the software, thus hindering individual take up of the applications. The government is also reluctant to invest and fund the individuals or corporations interested in the GIS uptake. Since data constitutes a great deal in GIS, the limited shared databases in the country make it even more expensive to acquire data. There is also a limited number of individual in the country trained to be able to use the technology; this is because our current education system has not incorporated GIS in the curriculum as other countries, like Rwanda, have done.


In conclusion, GIS is vital in the actualisation of the vision 2030; it will be a great boost as it integrates easily into any aspect of the key three pillars of the dream. There is thus need to introduce GIS as a subject in our education curriculum, starting at the basic primary level of education. This is possible as other countries, like Rwanda, have successfully integrated GIS in their education curriculum. This will result in a populace that not only embraces GIS, but is well versed with it and thus increased development.


19 thoughts on “The role of Geospatial Technology (GIS) in the Kenya Vision 2030

  1. Pingback: The role of Geospatial Technology (GIS) in the Kenya Vision 2030 « edemba

  2. Dominic Kipsang says:

    This is a good thing that would truly bring our country to another level in development.I just finished my form four class last and did quiet well would realy love to study Geospacial Eng.


  3. i study GIS , third year , as a rapid growing industry ,what can be my majors after my completion of the course period ?What are some of the real time challenges that come with practicing GIS in our daily activities?


  4. Asira Victor says:

    The challenges needs to be critically examined and the appropriate recommendations to the same given to address them more easily.


  5. VICTOR MUMO says:

    I am greatly happy taking geography hoping to master with GIS and be one of geospatial solution professor in the country and abroad.


  6. With the recent global trends in autonomous vehicles and positioning and also climate change mapping among other trends, gis is surely important in solving some of the problems we are facing.

    Even engineering and IT companies are partnering with geospatial firms to have a broad customers base.


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