New agency to handle all State media advertising

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich


The Government has created a centralised agency to handle all its media advertising.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich wrote to the Attorney General, principal secretaries, chief executives of all State corporations and independent constitutional commissions on July 10 to announce the move, which is expected to hurt local media houses' revenues.

Mr Rotich informed the officials about the creation of the Government Advertising Agency (GAA), a body charged with authorising public sector advertising and implementing sectoral standards, procedures, guidelines and managing consolidated Government advertising funds.

He said the move, pursuant to a Cabinet memorandum, will affect State corporations, universities and other institutions under the national government. These institutions will now do their media bookings through the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology's GAA under the Department of Public Communications.

"Accounting officers are therefore required to observe this new policy directive and adhere to the GAA guidelines. Accounting officers should submit to GAA their quarterly advertising plans in the prescribed format 15 days prior to the commencement of each quarter for the purpose of planning and budgeting," read part of the memo.

Rotich seems to restrict the time such adverts should run in the media.

He tells the accounting officer at the Ministry of Information to ensure that adverts shall run for no more than three minutes per exposure. "That special adverts of national interest or magnitude, national announcement, advertorials, commercials, multi-media productions and documentaries shall take no more than five minutes of air time and that public sector advertising audio visual and multimedia productions (informercials, films, video tapes and DVDs) shall not exceed more than ten minutes of airtime unless advised."

He told CSs to ensure adverts exceeding Sh3 million are submitted to the GAA for approval prior to undertaking. These include proposals to undertake outdoor advertising with road shows, billboards, fliers, posters, drama, video, cinema, comedy, sports, competitions, audio visuals, branded items, out of home and interactive platforms.

He also directed the CS in the Ministry of Information to harmonise all digital advertising channels such as,, social media on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, web-blogs and online networks.

Further, he directed the officials to use SMSs, WhatsApp or direct mails to advertise Government campaigns, programmes, initiatives and services.

Internal advertising

"Such messages shall contain no more than 50 words, where length affects cost, and shall be run no more than three times a day for three days in a single advert campaign."

The CS directed that ministries give priority to internal advertising where appropriate.

The GAA has also been mandated to set aside emergency and risk advertising funds. The money will be used to publish appropriate advertising, in case of an emergency, which should be no more than two pages in print media.

He also ordered that GAA co-ordinates public sector advertising contract management and procurement. The ministers will seek the agency's approval to contract local or foreign advertising, public relations, publicity services, campaigns or country reports.

This means it will be hard for a ministry or a government department to outsource the services of a PR firm without the approval of GAA.

"GAA should ensure that such public sector advertising strictly adheres to the Government contracting and common services policy in all advertising procurement. They shall obtain project registration numbers authorising contracts to purchase media space," the memo says.

Those seeking to advertise abroad must also seek the approval of GAA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure compliance with foreign public sector advertising and marketing.

GAA will also co-ordinate fairs and exhibitions to ensure unified advertising themes and messages by government institutions and events and public feedback methods on specific or general issues of concern on Government are incorporated.

Mr Denis Chebitwey is the new head of GAA. Chebitwey said the agency, located on the 11th floor of Teleposta Towers Building along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi, is ready to start receiving advertisements from ministries, departments and other Government agencies.

"We have put in place the necessary infrastructure and systems to ensure that the Government gets value for its money from advertising," said Mr Chebitwey.

Chebitwey said the Ministry of ICT has engaged professionals to ensure Government priorities in advertising were taken into account, while ensuring that public communication was effectively handled.

Budget for Government advertising was previously allocated to each ministry, but starting the new financial year, he said, all funds meant for public advertising will be consolidated under the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology.

The new approach to Government advertising aims at mobilising, strengthening and streamlining the management of public sector communication as well as financial and technical resources.

Each ministry, department and Government will forward all advertising requests to the Government Advertising Agency, which will be processed and payments made to service providers through the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS).

Chebitwey, in an earlier statement, however told the ministries and State agencies that the Ministry of ICT will not take responsibility for debts previously owed to advertisers.