VIRTUAL DIPLOMACY AND INTER-STATE RELATIONS: A CASE STUDY OF KENYA

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There is no country in the world that has managed to set up diplomatic missions in all the United Nations 193 member states. This is because of lack of resources and capacity to establish embassies and consulates in all the countries. There’s lack of ICT implementation which is the real essence of technology, it reduces the time and space required to administer public diplomacy. Kenya’s conduct of diplomacy has not been able to adequately achieve its goals in advancing its economic, political, diaspora and other interests abroad. This is because of its continuous reliance on traditional methods of diplomatic practice. Virtual diplomacy will improve diplomatic services for developing countries like Kenya which are not able to have physical embassies and consulates in all foreign countries. That is why adopting virtual diplomacy to promote its national interests in the international arena will narrow the gap and achieve so much with less. Virtual diplomacy is a new phenomenon in the developing world. Kenya is an ICT hub, and is on the path to be a ‘Silicon Valley’ in Africa. Kenya should adopt virtual diplomacy so that it can realize the national interests and goals for the country. Virtual diplomacy is more cost effective unlike the old diplomacy. The objective of the study was to identify ways in  which  ministry of  foreign affairs  can  apply  virtual diplomacy  in  its  conduct  of diplomatic activities. ICT and more specifically web 2.0 in the running of public diplomacy. The specific objectives were; to explore how virtual diplomacy influences power relations among states; to  explore areas  where Kenya government  can apply virtual representation in its diplomatic practice and to identify expected challenges in the use of virtual diplomacy. The research looked at how the use of information communications technology for development. The Actor Network Theory (ANT) guided the study by examining how interaction of virtual diplomacy, which is technology driven, interacts with traditional diplomacy that is driven by human beings. The theory analyzed how technology influences interactions in the diplomatic practice. The research methodology used the mixed methods approach. It combined both the qualitative and quantitative  methods.  For  the  public  or  citizens,  the  researcher  applied  judgment sampling. For data analysis, the researcher identified the main themes of the research to form the sub-topics. The primary data was analyzed thematically based on the objectives. The researcher also relied on secondary data to support the findings. The main setback in the adoption of virtual diplomacy is cyber security and high risk of leaking confidential information.  The  study concluded  that  virtual  diplomacy  influences  power  relations among  states,  especially  in  Kenya.  Through  virtual diplomacy,  countries  can  setup embassies  in  the  online  space  that  are  cost  effective  and  eliminate  expenses  of maintaining   diplomatic   missions   in   all   countries   where   they   have   interests.

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PROF. AMB. MARIA NZOMO
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