In recent years, Kenya’s innovation ecosystem has become known as the “Silicon Savannah” due to its booming creativity and high investment potential. It all started in 2007 when a mobile payment innovation called M-Pesa was launched. M-Pesa truly changed the innovation game in Kenya, showcasing the potential within the Silicon Savannah. At the moment, M-Pesa is used by over two-thirds of the Kenyan adult population. M-Pesa not only created a unique, successful business model, but also continues to provide banking services for the most marginalised parts of the population. This is what social innovation has to offer: scalable services that support social cohesion and equal access to services.
Many of the Kenyan innovations have focused on fintech and sustainability. However, there is another category of potential game changers that have stayed under the public radar: justice innovations. Justice innovation has the potential to disrupt the legal industry by not only providing services that are affordable and accessible, but also by making them more innovative and user-friendly.
According to HiiL data, over one million Kenyans experience a crime problem annually. Many of these problems remain unresolved. Often people do not take any action to solve their crime problem, and when they do, the outcomes of resolution processes are unclear. Could justice innovation provide solutions to this unsustainable crime situation? What are the gaps in Kenyan criminal justice that innovation can bridge?
In 2020, the Kenyan Judiciary published their Alternative Justice System (AJS) policy. The AJS policy aims to bring traditional methods of dispute resolution into the mainstream and promote more affordable, participatory, and inclusive justice processes. Justice innovation has similar goals. While many innovation models make use of modern technology, a number are also focused on improved prevention and resolution of crime using traditional, community-based approaches. Can justice innovation support the realisation of the AJS policy, and if so, how?
In this report we explore the questions above. We start from analysing the baseline: what crimes problems Kenyans encounter, what they do to resolve them, and the quality of those resolutions. We then provide examples of Kenyan innovations that already deliver resolutions to crime problems. Part three introduces opportunities for innovation based on interviews with formal and informal criminal justice providers in Kenya. The final section brings these findings together and explores the most promising avenues for criminal justice innovation in Kenya.