AO: The article explains (see excerpt below) that the Government of Kenya (GoK) demonstrated its tangible support of the Internet when it decided to lay down its own national undersea fiber cable when talks over a regional link failed.
"As the most developed country on the continent, South Africa is the obvious hub for online Africa. And yet when Google was looking for a regional base, it went first to Nairobi. Why? Because Kenya — notably its government and specifically Ndemo — embraced the Internet as few other nations have. Unlike other African regulators, who often see protecting state telecom monopolies as their duty, Ndemo was an early and enthusiastic liberalizer of telecoms and fiber networks and was instrumental in Kenya's decision to lay its own national undersea fiber cable when talks on a regional link failed. Ndemo says the state's ultimate aim is free mobile calls and e mail for every Kenyan who wants them, which he estimates at 60% to 80% of a population of 40 million. The driving principle behind his digital zeal, says Ndemo, is that "the Internet is a basic human right" and a necessity for economic growth."
TM: The power of the internet played a big part of the discussion in the various ways through which data is transferred and the potential to transfer it exists. Be it from the Zoom and WhatsApp mentorship groups by Eider Africa or the creation of YouTube videos by the lecturer to make academic material more consumable. The allure of the same is another matter altogether.
PC: One person pointed out that Kenya has the infrastructural capacity (5 tier three data centers; M-Pesa is hosted here; Visa/bank transactions hosted here), but not necessarily the expertise to make full use of that capacity. This, however, is mostly referring to big (quantitative) data storage and analytics. On the qualitative side, some discussion came out in the panel on students… E.g. students didn’t know about the journals, what the journal admissions process looks like, where students could pull data from, where students could store data, or even access to paywalled research. So even if the infrastructure is there, knowledge about the infrastructures or ability to access it might be limited.
AO: We didn’t have enough representation from the technical experts. Perhaps this reflects in some way the focus of much of the tech community in Nairobi on money making ventures or “social good” that doesn’t necessarily touch on more academic/digital humanities things. It was great to have Chao, Flora, Sylvia representing the digital humanities side. Phares Kariuki: “the technical capacity is here.” Perhaps at the level of internet and expertise. But I am not sure at the level of software innovation we have enough diversity of products and innovation happening; the IDRC uses Microsoft Sharepoint; Eider Africa uses Google suite; government officials (and most everyone) uses gmail and google suite. UoN and someone else mentioned using Dspace for their repositories - this is the most common software used. We don't seem to have enough options for the storage of qualitative data - hence people's interest and use of PECE.