3 thoughts on “Western programmers and the digital economy in Kenya

  1. Loeszie says:

    Dear Dennis,

    Well done on your video, it is very clear, easy to understand and interesting! I like how you focused on a very specific example, and as it is quite a niche example you can provide a very interesting analysis.

    Your introduction was very clear, it set the scene and explained what problems may arise with regards to Internet usage in Kenya. You then introduce your example and I like that you attempt to counter the argument that this kind of work can be seen as exploitation. In my opinion, you have done so successfully. You provide clear, strong arguments and I especially like the emphasis you put on how this work can benefit their own community and country.

    The only question I have is regarding the bitcoins and e-banking. You mention that these workers get paid in bitcoins – can they spend these in Kenya? Or can they exchange them for regular currency? Also, you say that e-banking would be very useful for Kenyans, but I assume there could be disparities here between young people in Nairobi and older people in remote, rural areas. Would access to e-banking be widespread in Kenya?

    Kind regards,



  2. Mwen says:

    Dear Dennis,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your video. Both the clarity and subject area made it very intriguing and interesting to watch.

    I liked the fact that you began with background information on both Kenya and the company you had contact with, this set up the rest of the video very well. As the base factual knowledge was already presented to the audience. The focus on a specific case study also created a clear narrative that could be followed through out.

    On to your critical argument, it was very clear how you presented your understanding of how this practice works and its benefits. Extensive examples in support of your argument, highlighted exactly what was being accomplished and how this would in turn help Kenya on issues of unemployment, the digital market, investment and skills.

    My favourite aspect though, is how you also highlighted that this is not a one sided deal nor charity, as the west would also benefit from supporting this practice by gaining more programmers. The emphasis on how developing countries can also have an influence on the digital market is important to make, and is often forgotten.

    The only question I pose to you relates to the comment on the inefficiency of the agricultural sector. Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus digital developments towards making that sector more efficient, since it is how 75% of Kenyans make a living?

    Kind Regards,


  3. Payal Arora says:

    Dear Dennis, wonderful and nuanced argument here. Clearly you have done your research and narrowed it down skillfully to this case study which makes your argument poignant and focused. I agree with Loes and Mwen that you built up the argument through the video systematically and analytically, giving us the counter arguments before explicitly stating your point of view, drawn from research. It does open the doors to further questions on the economy of bitcoin as Loes asks, of the localization of innovation as Mwen ask. Would be nice to situate this company in a momentum of other companies and the trade-offs in having major companies like Google etc as clients vs local companies. From the recent studies on these companies, while this does expand the digital economy in Kenya, profits usually circulate between Western nations. However, it is up to the Kenyan government how they leverage on these initiatives to support their citizens in opening up multiple and diverse economies through institutional, legal and infrastructural support. Good job overall! thanks for making us think about these issues closely


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