Transcript of Audio Clip Recorded December 7, 2020
So when I was thinking about government, I was thinking about the actual, even in just budgetary allocations, regardless of where the money is coming from, like the investment in the fiber optic network, you know, that had to be like a very specific decision from
the government to do that, or how Safaricom emerged from, you know, a government entity setting up a private arm. And then we talk about the digital strategy of the current government and how it drove a lot of their policy. So, yes, on the side of it, they would
now use that to go get external funding to support, but I still think there has to be some sort of policy direction that the government is taking independent of the funder that shows that there's interest and the evolution of this particular approach to development.
Mmmh. How much of the government's approach do you think...like, where does the inspiration for it come from? Is it like, you know how like when we [at iHub Research] had applied for projects, a lot of it was also like sensing like, well, where is the direction that a lot of development agendas are going in? So anyway, it's hard to like say it's one thing or the other, but like, do you think that it's the same for government? Like, are they also like, "oh, well, this is the vibe, you know, this is what's PC right now. And what people are getting funding for, is that what we should also do"? Or is it like, "citizens are asking for this so we should go in this direction"? Or like, how do you think they come up with their initiative?
So I think it's, like the same thing with us. Like, we knew we wanted to study technology, wanted to study entrepreneurship, wanted to study the impact of tech on society. Like, that's what we knew we wanted to do. Now, how we approach this topic is what is maybe guided by where the funding for it comes from. So in the same way, like, at the end of the day, the government collects taxes, so it has its own funding. And I don't think that is just for like, things like there's like a few development projects in there, which is based on what you promised your citizens at the end of the day. Cuz you had to come up with a manifesto
and say this is what we're going to do. So you also have to remember that in Kenya, government is not as established in the same way like it might be in the US that you can trace policy changes over time, because of different administrations, because literally
We've only had like, four administrations. So like, maybe in the Moi time, it was all about like, okay, "what does the World Bank need? We'll do that." I don't think there was a strong standing for policy, especially in the last 10 years of that particular administration. But when you look at Kibaki, like he came with a review for economic recovery by all means possible. And then it happened to be that a lot of the policies were aligned with donor funding. When you look at Uhuru, like he really wanted to do this digital thing, he wanted to do the laptops. I don't think there was a funder seated somewhere who was like, "if you do, you know, laptops for primary school education, we'll totally come through." I don't think World Bank put pressure on them for that particular policy agenda. But when it came to funding it, they were like, "okay, who can do it?". And they ended up in China. The same thing with the SGR, like, there's still some projects you have, based on what you promised people, and then you go look for the money. Yeah. Yeah.
I mean, you bring up a really important point that I think too often we forget about in tech discussions. Like, multi-party democracy is so new and recent in Kenyan history. Like, yeah, I think we take it for granted a lot.
This transcript is part of the source data for the article "Becoming an African Techpreneur: geopolitics of investments in “local” Kenyan entrepreneurship" by Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku, published in the journal Engaging Science, Technology, and Society.
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Leonida Mutuku and Angela Okune, 8 December 2020, "2020 DEC 7. Transcript of Audio Clip on Government and Funder Agendas", contributed by Angela Okune and Leo Mutuku, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 16 January 2023, accessed 31 March 2023. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/2020-dec-7-transcript-audio-clip-government-and-funder-agendas
This is a transcript of an audio clip recorded during a Zoom call between the co-authors Angela Okune and Leonida Mutuku which took place on December 7, 2020. As part of conceptualizing their paper, the co-authors were discussing how government and external funder agenda-setting dynamics appear to be negotiated.
Find the audio clip associated with this transcript here.