The mobile, the media and the money: empowering Kenyans for Kenya

By | July 30, 2011

If I were to go by the majority of the mainstream global media articles on the subject of the drought in East Africa, I would think that only citizens in the USA and across Europe were contributing assistance for food aid.  Yet my twitter feed is full of stories of how much Kenyans have raised in donations by text messaging alone while the BBC (again found via twitter) has this to say:

Kenyans have donated nearly $200,000 (£122,000) via mobile phone banking for aid to victims of the worst drought in the region in 60 years.
The BBC’s Noel Mwakugu in the capital, Nairobi, says the money has been raised in the first 12 hours of an appeal launched by leading businesses.
The appeal – involving mobile phone company Safaricom, Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper and Kenya Commercial Bank – is intended to raise $5.4m.

And The Standard (I know, but…) has this snippet which I’d like to add:

Over 6,000 Kenyans at home and abroad engaged in discussions in social media, Twitter and Facebook on how to deal with the crisis. They encouraged other Kenyans to contribute to the Kenyans for Kenya Initiative.

This is significant.

There are layers that need to be unpacked but the obvious ones stand out – mobile phones, mPesa, social media, communications technology. But its far more than just that, and it may just be a signal indicator of a tipping point. Of what kind I hesitate to write down in words at the moment, I want to ponder it further and discuss with Muchiri who has far more experience in social media, social crm and of course Kenya than I do. But my first impulse I will leave you with, this little device has indeed become a post industrial platform for social and economic development, which is just another way of saying empowerment.

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