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Narratives matter

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May 24 · Issue #12 · View online
iAfrikan Daily Brief
We live in interesting times. A few years ago I wrote about how M-PESA is not Kenyan. At the time, and for many years that followed, many people took swipes at me for not acknowledging that M-PESA was a Kenyan invention and that it belonged to Kenya. I took the punches like Muhammad Ali, rope-a-dope. It was because there is undeniable proof and patent filings along with Safaricom and Vodacom Tanzania annual reports that prove that M-PESA is owned by the UK’s Vodafone and everyone else just pays Vodafone royalty and license fees.

The thing is, narratives - the stories we tell the world and tell ourselves - matter. They matter in several ways.
Binyavanga Wainaina was born in 1971 n Nakuru, Kenya. He studied in both the UK and South Africa and went on to become an acclaimed award winning author worldwide. More importantly, Wainaina was Pan African and wrote boldly and truthfully about our beloved continent. We will miss his wise words. Rest In Peace. 📷 Binyavanga Wainaina Facebook Page
It’s important we write and tell (i.e. broadcast, write, vlog, podcast, etc.) our stories as Africans. It is important that we do that across various sectors of society including in business and with regards to technology, lest many say we have never invented anything. Narratives serve, partly, to motivate, to illustrate how Africa not only has the potential but is actually building technology that really matters for the world. However, something else is more important than narratives.

Legally binding contracts.

For decades, if not centuries, as is/was the case with M-PESA, Africans are generally (of course there are many exceptions to this) emotional investors and emotional owners of things with nothing legally binding to really prove that, that thing belongs to an African. It’s important to dismantle narratives sometimes, to scratch below the surface and really ask what some find an uncomfortable question: if this is said to be African, does an African own it? Do Africans benefit from this monetarily?

Narratives matter, they are good marketing, but contracts matter more.

Recommended
⚽ Didier Drogba has scored a goal for digital literacy in Africa (I know, it’s so cliche’d, but I had to). He signed an agreement that sees a digital literacy program launched to educate 10 million Africans on issues such as health, citizenship, and financial inclusion. Link

🏢 Here is a list of all the companies that have so far cut business ties with Huawei following an executive order signed by Donald Trump. Link

🔓 Joomla has issued a statement detailing how its servers were breached earlier in May 2019. The hacker also installed and ran a cryptocurrencies mining script on the breached servers. Link

💰 It looks like M-PESA will finally, truly, be Kenyan (or at minimum, African) because Kenya’s Safaricom and South Africa’s Vodacom are planning a $13 million purchase of M-PESA intellectual property rights from the UK’s Vodafone. Link

📲 If you own Huawei Android-based smartphone you will still be able to use it as per normal and receive updates until the 90-day relief period expires on 19 August 2019. Link
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