@TheStar

Delusions of digital grandeur

11 months ago, 7 Dec 21:26

By: Wycliffe Muga

In recent months, most mentions of Kenya in global news headlines have been accompanied by images of riot police clobbering unarmed demonstrators amidst clouds of teargas: Or alternatively, of demonstrators whirling their deadly slings, as they prepare to fight back. Even President Kenyatta’s inauguration, in one of the news sites I subscribe to, was not illustrated by any image of the pomp and splendour of a Kenyan presidential ceremony attended by a host of foreign dignitaries. Rather, the photo was one of Uhuru’s (unarmed) supporters being beaten senseless by the same riot policemen who are usually unleashed against the opposition demonstrators. Apparently the red-shirted masses had been a little too enthusiastic in their efforts to get into Kasarani Stadium and had broken through the fence in their determination to witness the historic event. On the other side of that fence, tear gas and truncheons awaited them. No doubt we Kenyans have been the source of much amusement globally for the past few months. A terrorist attack horrifies the whole world. But a purely internal political crisis, full of drama, is always an enjoyable spectacle for those not directly affected. So, it was something of a relief to see a prominent mention of Kenya on foreign news sites, which had nothing to do with our ongoing political crisis. And the fact that it was presented as bad news for us did not take away this sense of relief. This news was that Lagos was set to overtake Nairobi as the ‘African innovation hub’. And that all the notable action — as well as the new venture capital funding for digital innovation – was now to be found in Nigeria, and not Kenya. I have always been deeply skeptical about Nairobi’s status as a major hub for digital innovation. It seems to me that we got this title by default. Nobody can deny that M-Pesa represents a transformational step in the search for financial inclusion. Nor yet that there is an elegant simplicity in the millions of Kenyans who had previously not had any bank accounts suddenly being able to obtain a wide range of financial services through a $20 smartphone. So successful has M-Pesa been that not only have all the other mobile phone service providers come up with their own versions of it, but it has been ‘exported’ to places as far-flung as Afghanistan, where Roshan, the country’s leading telecommunications service provider, takes great pride in its M-Paisa mobile money transfer service. My favourite story is of how this Kenyan innovation ended up being a key technology in the fight against corruption in that country: Apparently even a famously corrupt nation like ours cannot compete with Afghanistan when it comes to creative new ways of stealing public funds. The story has it that when Afghanistan security forces started receiving their salaries through mobile money transfers, the servicemen were utterly stunned at how much they received and just how much their salaries should have been all along. The old system had ...
Read More


Category: topnews news oped opinion

Suggested

2 hours ago, 18:07
@DailyNation - By: Rushdie Oudia
Gunshots, chaos at Kisumu assembly

MCAs disagree over adjournment of House sessions by temporary speaker Agolla. ...

Category: topnews news
2 hours ago, 18:39
@CITIZENTV - By: Wycliffe Nyamasege
CS Kiunjuri blames predecessor for illegal maize payouts

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has come out to defend and absolve himself from the blame game over the delayed and irregular payments to maize farmers. ...

Category: topnews news
17 minutes
@TheStar - By: Julius Otieno @ju ...
Sonko engages reverse gear, raises parking fees to Sh400

Backtracking on his campaign pledges, Nairobi governor Mike Sonko is set to increase parking fees in the city centre.If a proposal by Sonko’s administration to hike the fees is approved by the county ...

Category: topnews news
2 hours ago, 18:15
@CITIZENTV - By: Allan Obiero
Gunshots as chaos erupts at Kisumu County Assembly

Dramatic scenes were Tuesday witnessed at the Kisumu County Assembly after Members of County Assembly attempted to rough up the Chief Sergeant-at-arms George Amayo during the afternoon House session. ...

Category: topnews news
1 hours ago, 19:33
@TheStar - By: Melanie Mwangi @m ...
Kiunjuri distances himself from Sh6bn NCPB scandal

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has said he was not part of the Sh6 billion scandal at the National Cereals and Produce Board."I came to this ministry in February this year. By the time I arrived, the ...

Category: topnews news
2 hours ago, 17:56
@StandardMedia - By: Faith Karanja
It's life in jail for defiler of mentally ill child aged 3

...

Category: topnews news

@TheStar

Delusions of digital grandeur

11 months ago, 7 Dec 21:26

By: Wycliffe Muga
In recent months, most mentions of Kenya in global news headlines have been accompanied by images of riot police clobbering unarmed demonstrators amidst clouds of teargas: Or alternatively, of demonstrators whirling their deadly slings, as they prepare to fight back. Even President Kenyatta’s inauguration, in one of the news sites I subscribe to, was not illustrated by any image of the pomp and splendour of a Kenyan presidential ceremony attended by a host of foreign dignitaries. Rather, the photo was one of Uhuru’s (unarmed) supporters being beaten senseless by the same riot policemen who are usually unleashed against the opposition demonstrators. Apparently the red-shirted masses had been a little too enthusiastic in their efforts to get into Kasarani Stadium and had broken through the fence in their determination to witness the historic event. On the other side of that fence, tear gas and truncheons awaited them. No doubt we Kenyans have been the source of much amusement globally for the past few months. A terrorist attack horrifies the whole world. But a purely internal political crisis, full of drama, is always an enjoyable spectacle for those not directly affected. So, it was something of a relief to see a prominent mention of Kenya on foreign news sites, which had nothing to do with our ongoing political crisis. And the fact that it was presented as bad news for us did not take away this sense of relief. This news was that Lagos was set to overtake Nairobi as the ‘African innovation hub’. And that all the notable action — as well as the new venture capital funding for digital innovation – was now to be found in Nigeria, and not Kenya. I have always been deeply skeptical about Nairobi’s status as a major hub for digital innovation. It seems to me that we got this title by default. Nobody can deny that M-Pesa represents a transformational step in the search for financial inclusion. Nor yet that there is an elegant simplicity in the millions of Kenyans who had previously not had any bank accounts suddenly being able to obtain a wide range of financial services through a $20 smartphone. So successful has M-Pesa been that not only have all the other mobile phone service providers come up with their own versions of it, but it has been ‘exported’ to places as far-flung as Afghanistan, where Roshan, the country’s leading telecommunications service provider, takes great pride in its M-Paisa mobile money transfer service. My favourite story is of how this Kenyan innovation ended up being a key technology in the fight against corruption in that country: Apparently even a famously corrupt nation like ours cannot compete with Afghanistan when it comes to creative new ways of stealing public funds. The story has it that when Afghanistan security forces started receiving their salaries through mobile money transfers, the servicemen were utterly stunned at how much they received and just how much their salaries should have been all along. The old system had ...
Read More

Category: topnews news oped opinion

Suggested

2 hours ago, 18:07
@DailyNation - By: Rushdie Oudia
Gunshots, chaos at Kisumu assembly

MCAs disagree over adjournment of House sessions by temporary speaker Agolla. ...

Category: topnews news
2 hours ago, 18:39
@CITIZENTV - By: Wycliffe Nyamasege
CS Kiunjuri blames predecessor for illegal maize payouts

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has come out to defend and absolve himself from the blame game over the delayed and irregular payments to maize farmers. ...

Category: topnews news
17 minutes
@TheStar - By: Julius Otieno @ju ...
Sonko engages reverse gear, raises parking fees to Sh400

Backtracking on his campaign pledges, Nairobi governor Mike Sonko is set to increase parking fees in the city centre.If a proposal by Sonko’s administration to hike the fees is approved by the county ...

Category: topnews news
2 hours ago, 18:15
@CITIZENTV - By: Allan Obiero
Gunshots as chaos erupts at Kisumu County Assembly

Dramatic scenes were Tuesday witnessed at the Kisumu County Assembly after Members of County Assembly attempted to rough up the Chief Sergeant-at-arms George Amayo during the afternoon House session. ...

Category: topnews news
1 hours ago, 19:33
@TheStar - By: Melanie Mwangi @m ...
Kiunjuri distances himself from Sh6bn NCPB scandal

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has said he was not part of the Sh6 billion scandal at the National Cereals and Produce Board."I came to this ministry in February this year. By the time I arrived, the ...

Category: topnews news
2 hours ago, 17:56
@StandardMedia - By: Faith Karanja
It's life in jail for defiler of mentally ill child aged 3

...

Category: topnews news
Our App