Before the digial divide there was hope. This is a prefix to the broadband era and showshow a whole region moved through systems of communication from foot to fidonet email.Interviews with email pioneers, details of 100 years of telecommunications traffic andstories from the turning points of electronic eras build the account of East Africa's hope,rebellion, triumph and submersion.This thesis is an investigation into the long term effects of telecommunications indevelopment and the more recent impacts of electronic mail and Internet in Kenya,Tanzania and Uganda. It deals with the detail and contexts of global interconnection fromthe telegraph to Internet2.Data is based on processed telecommunications transaction generated information:International telephone traffic, FidoNet electronic mail, Internet (SMTP) mail. Other datasources are user statistics, mailing lists, HTTP address databases, traceroute and whoisqueries. Perl scripts were used break down information and they were analysed withconventional spreadsheet and query tools. Interviews with key players, officials, techniciansand users were conducted in three stages of fieldwork between 1995 and 1999.The full historical context of electronic communications has been used to situate debatesover changing connectivity and its effects. East Africa provides strong comparativeevidence between three countries for national variations in policy and impact. Cableslooped around Africa and ran into the interior alongside railway lines, concentratingcommunications in narrow corridors. The development of cash crops and the monetisationof the economy followed the geographies of physical and electronic transport, leaving alegacy of commercial activities grouped close to infrastructure.Development policies have been determined by colonial authorities, independent nationsand presently, through negotiated agreements between the state and international funders.This later period has also seen the telecommunications sector reshaped by shifts fromanalogue to digital systems, and the introduction of electronic mail and Internet. Dataindicates that there are massive imbalances in traffic currents with incoming to outgoingratios of up to 10:1. At the same time the numbers of users for email and internet in EastAfrica remain at very low levels at less than one in a thousand of the population. Disparitiesat local and international levels are fixed through low levels of finance, literacy andbandwith.