Virtual Diplomacy And Inter-State Relations: A Case Study Of Kenya
Gichoya, Florence Wambui
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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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