This chapter looks at how communications became the magic dust for development; the shift from information communication technology for development (ICT4D) to mobile for development (M4D); the transition to a wider palette of technologies; and the long challenges to ICT4D in Africa, learning and agriculture.
It might seem perverse to start a chapter on technology and development with the story of one of the world's largest refugee camps. But the snapshot presented in the next section illustrates that development agencies
. Rather than indicating a lack of knowledge over the terminology and the mechanical functioning of our economy, I got a glimpse into what lies behind people's common-sense opinions and views.
And as I spoke to more and more people it became evident that one assumption was dominating and framing how the people I spoke to thought about the economy. I took to calling this ‘the pot of money’ myth. It was pervasive in almost all my conversations, but was most clearly expressed through the notion of immigrants or refugees subtracting from the national pot
more money. As shown by the reaction to the COVID-19 crisis, if we need it, the money is there. Therefore, it's inaccurate to view the economy as something that is built up by people paying their taxes and then emptied out by immigrants, refugees and lazy youths. Instead, we need a vision that can incorporate the fact of credit creation.
The pot of money myth in the financial sector took the form of the pot as something that the sector, following market logic, was best placed to allocate, along with the idea that the sector filled the pot up
From transferring cash by SMS to a digital payments ecosystem (2000–20)
Growth came in unexpected ways: ‘There was a post-election violence lift [in late 2007/early 2008] … It really spiked the usage right up.’
People avoided going out to make payments and M-Pesa also became a popular way to send money to displaced persons in refugee camps. As it achieved a ‘critical mass’, the number of potential uses increased:
The first app was never built for thirty million customers. We said to ourselves let's build for five