National Intelligence Service
Huduma ya Ujasusi ya Kitaifa
Emblem of the NSIS
Flag of the NSIS
Agency overview
FormedAct of Parliament
31 December 1998
Preceding agencies
HeadquartersMaruruis, Nairobi,
MottoApti Parati Fideles[1]
Annual budgetClassified[2]
Agency executive
Parent agency Kenya

National Intelligence Service (Kenya) (NIS; Swahili: Huduma ya Ujasusi ya Kitaifa) which was previously known as the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS)[3] is both the (national) domestic and foreign intelligence agency of Kenya. It had its origins in "Special Branch" a department of the national police that was created in 1952 under the British administration.[4] Among other things it provided intelligence during the Mau Mau rebellion.[4]


19th-century Kenyan intelligence

The Nandi, on hearing of the British, sought to attack them. On the other hand, the Kamba people responded differently to the British as they had traversed the central and coastal areas as long-distance traders during which they gathered information for their leaders.[5]

British colonists recruited mercenaries as porters and guides. First the mercenaries provided information, but later they served as community chiefs, displacing traditional leaders. This meant that most of those who became chiefs were opportunists.

Later the government of the Kenya Protectorate began intelligence gathering which is shown in the timeline below.


Special Branch (SB)

Kenyan independence/Directorate of Security Intelligence (DSI)

In 1963 with independence approaching Special Branch was made independent from the police and in 1969 it was given a new charter.[4] It wasn't until 1986 that it was transformed into the Directorate of Security Intelligence (DSI).[4]

National Security Intelligence Service

In 1998, a new act of Parliament in Kenya established the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) to replace the former Directorate of Security Intelligence which at the time was still colloquially known as "Special Branch".[7] The first director general (DG)[8] of the new service was retired Brigadier Wilson A.C. Boinett who served until 2006, when he was replaced with Major-General Michael Gichangi.[4] In January 2011 Gichangi was appointed to a second five-year term.[9] However, Gichangi did not complete his term and resigned his position in August 2014 citing personal reasons. His replacement, Major-General Philip Kameru then serving as the head of military intelligence, was appointed in September after vetting by the National Assembly.[10]

NSIS's intelligence gathering work includes: internal, external and strategic intelligence. The NSIS is charged with identifying conditions that threaten Kenya's political, economic and social stability. It develops techniques and strategies to neutralise such threats. The NSIS director is the national security advisor to the president of Kenya.[4]

The NSIS was relocated from the notorious offices of Special Branch at Nyati House to new headquarters on the outskirts of the city, near the Windsor Golf and Country Hotel. In April 1999, the Moi government appointed Mrs Pamela Mboya, the former Permanent representative to the Habitat, to head a Committee that was charged with formulating a scheme of service for NSIS officers.[11]

Security of tenure given to the Director General of NSIS is designed to protect him from such abuse by members of the governing elite. He has the opportunity to say 'no' to any unlawful or sectarian instructions from his bosses without fear of losing his job.[12]

National Intelligence Service

The NSIS was briefly renamed National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) and then to National Intelligence Service (NIS) its current name.[3]


The National Intelligence Service in Kenya is concerned with:[13]


NIS is divided into seven sections:[11]

See also


  1. ^ Mwenda Njoka (21 January 2006). "How Two Terror Attacks Were Planned And Executed". allAfrica. Nairobi. Daily Nation. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Spy agency retains veil of secrecy on its spending plan". 24 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b PLC, Standard Group. "The Standard – Breaking News, Kenya News, World News and Videos". The Standard. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "NSIS Historical Background". National Security Intelligence Service. 2006. Archived from the original on 22 December 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2013.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Security Sector Reform research : The Origins of the Intelligence System of Kenya". Archived from the original on 8 March 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  7. ^ Njau, Mutegi (29 March 1999). "New intelligence body will be service oriented". Daily Nation. Nairobi, Kenya. Archived from the original on 18 May 2000.
  8. ^ "Director-General of National Intelligence Service in Kenya". AfroCave. 30 November 2020. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  9. ^ Leftie, Peter (23 September 2011). "Kenya: MPs to Vet Nominees for Spy Agency Top Job". Daily Nation. Nairobi, Kenya.
  10. ^ "Constitutions of Kenya – National Intelligence Service". Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Kenya – Intelligence". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on 15 June 2004.
  12. ^ PLC, Standard Group. "The Standard – Breaking News, Kenya News, World News and Videos". The Standard. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  13. ^ "Functions of the National Intelligence Service in Kenya". AfroCave. 20 January 2020. Retrieved 25 September 2021.