Doctoral student Eleanor Marchant presented the paper, “Power and the Programmer: A Deconstruction of the Dynamics of Power and Influence at Kenya’s Technology Incubators” during the 2013 International Conference on Information and Computer Technologies Development (ICTD) in Cape Town, South Africa.
The paper is based in part on Marchant’s experiences and research this past summer while working at the iHub Research in Kenya.
Kenya is home to the continent’s first technology business incubator, launched in 2010. Many have praised it and the community that has grown around it for its potential to build economic growth for the country and the region through fostering home grown technological creation. But the ecology around these incubators is transnational, in a constant state of evolution and adaptation, and filled with numerous different players with different political and economic motivations. This paper presents a preliminary analysis of these actors and their motivations in an effort to locate the balance of power in the space. Through the use of ethnography and critical discourse analysis, I make the case that a regular reexamination of these dynamics of production is essential if we are to understand who influences the kinds of technologies that are created and eventually used by people in Kenya and around the continent.