Powering Urban Transition in the Mobile Age: Experiences from Kibera, Nairobi
Prince Karakire Guma (TU Darmstadt)
Paper short abstract:
This paper presents empirical evidence of the synergetic, dialectic and heterogeneous correlation and co-evolution between technical systems and urban spheres within the mobile age.
Paper long abstract:
There is synergetic, dialectic and heterogeneous correlation and co-evolution between technical systems and urban spheres in the mobile age. Using Kibera as a case study, this paper follows the recent spiraling and constellation of these ambitious infrastructure development investments in part enabled by the uptake and integration of ICTs and new mobile technologies perhaps in a manner reminiscent of the rush to build in cities of the global South. The study investigates how spheres, overrun with a pervasiveness of mobile-enabled infrastructure development systems are entangled with a matrix of socio-cultural significations and technosocial configurations. Consequently, we draw from electricity infrastructure engagements in Kibera to examine how Kibera as a geography of encounter is constructed and reconstructed through engagement with new technologies. Essentially, we pair up Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Urban Studies to understand the centrality of infrastructural and technological systems as rubrics of urban transition and transformation in the mobile age. Through discursive elaboration and empirical investigation, exemplary experiences are presented to demonstrate how different Kenya Power promotes, markets, deploy the new technologies amidst a wide range of conflicting intermediaries, but also how Kibera's inhabitants think about them, understand them (for themselves), and act around them.
Urban Africa, Voice, and Politics