The first proposals to the Kenya National Archives to embrace the concept of records Centres were advanced by Ian MacLean, a consult on a UNESCO funded records management mission to Kenya in 1978. After examining the problems faced by government offices in Nairobi and in the outlying provinces as regarding the poor storage conditions prevalent and the inappropriateness of the then Archives at Jogoo House basement to meet the demands of additional space, the consultant proposed the establishment of Provincial/Regional Records Centres countrywide. He also recommended the inclusion of depots in the new administrative centres being built in all Provinces and some District headquarters for the storage of records then threatened by climatic conditions and attacks by paper-destroying insects.
In addition, he went on to propose the staffing levels of each of the Centres and outlined the operations as well as other professional services to be offered. As such, in 1980, the first Records Centre to be opened was Nairobi. This Centre was to cater for Nairobi, Central, Eastern and Northeastern Provinces. The other Records Centre followed as outlined below;
- Mombasa, to cater for Coast province was opened in 1980
- Kakamega, to cater for Western province was opened in 1981
- Nakuru, to cater for the vast Rift Valley province was opened in 1983
- Kisumu, to cater for Nyanza province was opened in 1990
- Nyeri, to cater for Central Province in 2013
Each of these Centres had to evolve its own Annual Work Plans in pursuit of the requirements of sections 4 and 7 of the Public Archives and Documentation Service Act, Chapter 19, Laws of Kenya. Section 4 (a) and (b) gives the director authority to carry out the following duties:
- To examine any public records, and advice on the care, preservation, custody and control thereof
- To transfer to his custody any public records, which he considers, should be housed in the national archives.
These functions specified in 4 (a) and (b) above are carried out through strategies of records survey and appraisal. For the purpose of destruction of valueless public records, the Act specifies under section 7 thus:
Where the Director is of the opinion that any public archives or records are duplicated, or that for some other special reason any public archives or records should not be preserved, he may, with the approval of the Minister and of such other person as the Minister considers to be primarily concerned with Public archives or records of the category in question, authorize the destruction or other disposal of such public archives or records. However due to the need of falling in tandem with the requirements of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 the department has resolved to strategically and gradually devolve its services throughout the republic. As a launch pad towards the realization of this constitutional dictates these entities (Records Centres) are now expected to provide full fledged archives, records and information management services at the devolved level, hence their new acquired status of Regional Archives