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<nettime> Kenya leads East Africa's march to modernity
Keith Hart on Fri, 1 Sep 2017 14:48:25 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Kenya leads East Africa's march to modernity


For the first time in postcolonial Africa, a court has cancelled the result of a presidential election. Although West and Southern Africa, with the continental superpowers in Nigeria and South Africa, have historically led the march to African modernity, East Africa is in many respects more advanced than either. It has the only supra-national telecoms network, the world's first and largest mobile money network in Kenya, economic progress and dictatorship in Rwanda, significant historical forms of rural socialism in Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia, the only war between established states since African independence and so on.

Kenya is at the heart of all this. When a subsidiary of Vodacom launched M-Pesa (mobile money in Swahili, with 24 mn accounts in Kenya and then Tanzania), it was immediately made subject to an official inquiry. This found that mobile money was a sounder system than the terrestrial banks; and the lives of vast numbers of citizens have been enabled by its consequences. Kenya, less visibly, also leads the world in recycling old computers for sale cheaply, unlike their counterparts in richer countries where the banks run the show. 

East Africa is embracing the struggle for modern civilization's supreme values of democracy and science faster than anywhere else in Africa. Of course there is a long way to go -- and this latest judgment might lead to civil war as it almost did a decade ago; but we should all be paying close attention to developments there.

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