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From the telegraph to the digital divide in Uganda, Kenya and


Global computer networks and geographies of development in East Africa, 1899-1999

Rupert Brown

Department of Geography, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College

Thesis submitted for the degree of doctor of philosophy

University of London


Before the digial divide there was hope. This is a prefix to the broadband era and shows
how a whole region moved through systems of communication from foot to fidonet email.
Interviews with email pioneers, details of 100 years of telecommunications traffic and
stories 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 in

development 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 from
the telegraph to Internet2.

Data is based on processed telecommunications transaction generated information:

International telephone traffic, FidoNet electronic mail, Internet (SMTP) mail. Other data
sources are user statistics, mailing lists, HTTP address databases, traceroute and whois
queries. Perl scripts were used break down information and they were analysed with
conventional spreadsheet and query tools. Interviews with key players, officials, technicians
and users were conducted in three stages of fieldwork between 1995 and 1999.

The full historical context of electronic communications has been used to situate debates
over changing connectivity and its effects. East Africa provides strong comparative
evidence between three countries for national variations in policy and impact. Cables
looped around Africa and ran into the interior alongside railway lines, concentrating
communications in narrow corridors. The development of cash crops and the monetisation
of the economy followed the geographies of physical and electronic transport, leaving a
legacy of commercial activities grouped close to infrastructure.

Development policies have been determined by colonial authorities, independent nations

and presently, through negotiated agreements between the state and international funders.
This later period has also seen the telecommunications sector reshaped by shifts from
analogue to digital systems, and the introduction of electronic mail and Internet. Data
indicates that there are massive imbalances in traffic currents with incoming to outgoing
ratios of up to 10:1. At the same time the numbers of users for email and internet in East
Africa remain at very low levels at less than one in a thousand of the population. Disparities
at local and international levels are fixed through low levels of finance, literacy and
Table of Contents

Chapter One
Introduction 1

Chapter Two
The configuration of East Africa 7

Chapter Three
From empires of control to networks of development 39

Chapter Four
Methodology 75

Chapter Five
Electronic mail – Precursor of Internet 105

Chapter Six
Externally driven change and the redefinition
of the telecommunications sector 153

Chapter Seven
Internet regulated, internet populated 185

Chapter Eight
'Information economy' and development 216

Chapter Nine
Conclusion 259

Figures and Tables Page
Figure AA
East Africa 1870-1905 9
Table AB
Timing of the runner system 14
Table AC
Timing of a caravan system 15
Figure AD
Schedule of imperialism 17
Table AE
Schedule of carriers 22
Figure AF
Cables around Africa 1870 – 1901 23
Figure AG
Telegrams from the Kikuyu Association and Coast Arab Association 36
Figure BA1
Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations 40
Figure BA2
Reflection on the League of Nations mandate 40
Table BB
Uganda: Planned Development Expenditure 1946-50 46
Figure BC
Subscriber telephone lines in East Africa 1950-1963 50
Figure BD
Development sensibilities in East Africa 60
Figure CA
Walk-through of Abler and Falk’ s terminologies 79
Figure CB
Stages in the analysis of regional systems 81
Figure CC
Topological representations of economic space 81
Figure CD
Properties of email 84
Figure CE
Statement of research ethics 88
Figure CF
Examples of current practice: Two TRUSTe compliant sites 91
Figure CG
Three examples of raw logs 96-97
Figure DA
The Share Project 1985-1989 108
Table DB
East African FidoNet email hosts 112
Figures and Tables Page
Figure DC
Geography and hierarchy of FidoNet 113
Figure DD
Email Traffic Makerere University 114
Figure DE
Direction of international FidoNet email Uganda 1993-1997 119
Figure DF1
Incoming traffic size, three country plot 122
Figure DF2
Outgoing traffic size, three country plot 122
Figure DG1
Incoming Ugandan FidoNet traffic (weighted volume) 123
Figure DG2
Outgoing Ugandan FidoNet traffic (weighted volume) 123
Figure DH1
Kenya Incoming FidoMail (weighted volume) 124
Figure DH2
Kenya Outgoing FidoMail (weighted volume) 124
Figure DI1
Tanzania Incoming FidoMail (weighted volume) 125
Figure DI2
Tanzania Outgoing FidoMail (weighted volume) 125
Figure DJ
Message ratios and sizes 127
Figure DK
Characterising technology choice for email 128
Figure DL
Characterising technology level 130
Figure DM
Proportion of East African traffic in African traffic 132
Figure DN1
Fidonet email incoming size country plot, Uganda 134
Figure DN2
FidoNet email outgoing size country plot, Uganda 135
Figure DO1
Uganda incoming traffic from Africa (top 15) 137
Figure DO2
Uganda outgoing traffic to Africa (top 15) 138
Figure DP1
Uganda incoming traffic from the world (top 15) 139
Figure DP2
Uganda incoming traffic to the world (top 15) 140
Figures and Tables Page
Figure DQ1
Grouping of African countries ranked by regularity and volume of outgoing 141
telephone calls
Figure DQ2
Grouping of African countries ranked by regularity and volume of incoming 142
telephone calls
Figure DR1
Grouping of countries ranked by regularity and volume of outgoing 143
telephone calls (World)
Figure DR2
Grouping of countries ranked by regularity and volume of incoming 144
telephone calls (World)
Figure DS
Telephone and trade ranks (Africa) 145
Figure DT
Networking timescale 147
Figure DU
Internet addressing 148
Figure DV
Hierarchy of IP mechanisms 149
Figure DW
Internet2 corporate membership 151
Figure EA
Uganda telephone traffic 1996 157
Table EB
Estimates of East African traffic by minutes, 1996 158
Figure EC1
Incoming telephone calls Uganda 1986-1996 159
Figure EC2
Outgoing telephone calls in minutes Uganda 1986-1996 160
Figure ED
Number of telephones, outgoing calls and New York closing coffee price 161
Table EE
Multiple regression analyses of Ugandan telephone traffic 1990-1996 163
Figure EF
Tourist arrival and incoming telephone traffic 1990-1996 164
Figure EG
ITU data for Ugandan, Kenyan and Tanzanian international telephone 165
traffic balances
Figure EH
Outgoing/Incoming call ratio: Uganda, 1986-1996; East Africa 1993-1997 166
Figures and Tables Page
Table EI
African telephone routes 176
Figure EJ
Trans-oceanic cable and satellite productivity 1965-2000 178
Figures EK1, EK2
Africa One 1996, 1997 180
Figure EL
Traceroutes to East African connection from London 182
Figure FA
East African media uptake 186
Figure FB
Geopolitics of companies and peering points 188
Figure FC
Leased-lines for datacommunications in Kenya, 1997 192
Figure FD
Kenstream network 193
Figure FE
East African IP Market and customers 194
Figure FF
Properties of wireless technologies 198
Figure FG
Locale, sector and institutional divisions in an ISP user base 1997 201
Figure FH
Continental email traffic CyberTwiga and SwiftGlobal Uganda 203
Figure FI
Country and domain rankings for CyberTwiga email 206
Figure FJ
Country and domain rankings for SwiftGlobal Uganda email 207
Figure FK
Webmail accounts in East Africa 208
Figure FL
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda: GDP per capita and subscriber telephone 213
Figure GA
Configuration of a bank network 218
Table GB
Expenditure on Health and Education 1995 229
Figure GC
Oxfam debt, education and health expenditure comparisons for Tanzania 230
Figures and Tables Page
Table GD
Proportion of students attaining different educational level 231
Table GE
Health investment and infrastructure 231
Table GF
East African environmental indicators 232
Figure GG
A posting from EcoNews Africa 234
Figure GH
Okinerai Pastoralists Integrated Survival Programme 236
Figure GI
Clipping from MAF website, 241
Figure GJ
Cases and rates of infection for selected diseases 245
Figure GK
Spread of email addresses, Makerere University 247
Table HA
Urban access to utilities 259
Chapter One
‘ The Internet is delivering power to the people. At last, the consumer is king. Communism has
collapsed – but here is the force that is truly taking power from the few and transferring it to the
many. It has happened in America. It will happen here. Perfect democracy. Perfect competition.
Choice for all.’ 1
Editorial, The Sun

‘ Dunia duara, ukiichungua utahara’ 2

Swahili saying

Can global computer networks help develop East Africa? Are digital technologies divisive
or levelling? This thesis examines electronic communications in terms of historical
continuity, global integration and access. It untangles the shifts from telegraph cables to
telephone lines to data networks, situates the issues inherent in conflicts between
economic and social development priorities, and marks the restructuring of Kenya,
Tanzania and Uganda from African socialism to the ‘ British model’ of privatisation and
liberalisation of state functions.

The electronic connections that have linked Africa and the other continents have been
described as ‘ a girdle around the earth’ 3, ‘ the tentacles of progress’ 4 and now there is the
‘ world wide web’ . However they are the physical bonds that fasten global relationships
while deeper commercial, financial and political bonds constrict the direction of national
transition. It is by an analysis of inputs and outputs that the thesis examines these chains of
electronic and economic connections, weighing the balances of exchanges and transfers
for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The economic potentials of electronic mail and Internet come from their perception as
levelling technologies. Opportunities in an online information economy are similar despite
location. If only a country can provide the infrastructure for its citizens then there is the
chance to ‘ leap-frog’ . This concept is widely used, hardly ever examined and shows the
simplification of complicated social and economic transition. It implies an incentive to invest
in high technology and rapid communications while there is the fear of falling further behind
in a fast changing world.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso posed the dilemma in more historical manner in 1993 and
articulated it as a matter of survival or subservience:

‘ We are no longer talking about the South that was on the periphery of the capitalist
core and was tied to it in a classical relationship of dependence. Nor are we speaking
of the phenomenon.....whereby multinational corporations transfer parts of the
productive system and the local producers are tied to foreign capital in the ‘ dependent-
associated’ development model. We are dealing, in truth, with a crueller phenomenon:

Editorial from The Sun newspaper, Wapping, London 2nd August 1999
The world is round, if you research it you’ll get diarrhoea
Barty-King H (1979) Girdle round the earth: The story of Cable and Wireless and its predecessors to mark the
group’s jubilee 1929-1979 Heinemann, London
Headrick DR (1988) The tentacles of progress: Technology transfer in the age of imperialism 1850 - 1940
Oxford University Press, Oxford
either the South (or a portion of it) enters the democratic-technological scientific race,
invests heavily in R&D, and endures the ‘ information economy’ metamorphosis, or it
becomes unimportant, unexploited and unexploitable.’ 5

There is emerging evidence that this division is already in place in the bonds market itself
and Edward Luce quotes an economist at ING Barings who is among others arguing that
the term ‘ emerging markets’ has become irrelevant.

‘ He suggests three categories: those whose economies are converging with the more
developed economies, such as Mexico and Poland; those completely shut out,
including most of sub-Saharan Africa, Russia and Ecuador, and those that have
periodic but not guaranteed access to the international debt markets, such as Argentina
and Thailand. Perhaps we should call them “ converging” , “ submerging” and “ waving
but not necessarily drowning” markets.’ 6

The only means of finance available to East African countries for the massive investments
in data and telecommunications networks are therefore direct foreign investment, funds
from official creditors or locally generated capital. Official funders prefer foreign investment,
there is insufficient local capital formation and so the quest for finance has taken on the
form of begging, pleasing donors or a beauty contest.

The impacts of electronic commerce, home working and disintermediation7 have been
slowly absorbed into the economic restructuring of industrialised nations. African countries
are taking slow and painful steps towards a vague objective of developing along the same
lines. In this thesis I present findings on the practice and locales of change that have been
engineered in East Africa.

It looks at three phases of electronic communication in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to

illustrate co-dependencies between technology, society and geography. The colonial phase
was marked by the cabling of Africa and imperial remote control via the telegraph. The era
of independence saw satellites for international connection while state monopolies provided
national telephone services. The era of structural adjustment has reconfigured the state
and its services while digital networks are replacing the plain old telephone system.

At first, electronic communications in East Africa were pioneered and operated by the
voluntary sector as a telephone based, email-only solution. In 1994 when the research was
conceived there was a large upward surge of use and users, the United Nations was about
to invest in its Mercure satellite system from Nairobi and small VSAT8 dishes offered
smaller and lower powered connectivity. The components for distributed Internet access
were available and the question was when would organisation and finance be available and
which sectors would be able to organise services? The voluntary sector continued to
receive project funding based on its performance but their funds would not stretch to
providing for VSAT connection. In 1995 it was private finance with a large overseas
contribution that allowed the start of private controlled but public access Internet services.
Cardoso FH (1993) 'North-South Relations in the Present Context: A New Dependency?' in Carnoy M, et
al.(1993)(eds) The New Global Economy in the Information Age Pennsylvania State University Press, US;
quote p.156
Luce E (1999) Global Investor, ‘A new split is emerging’ Financial Times 27th September 1999 p29
Cutting out the ‘middleman’ or, as the French say it, ‘entrepreneur’
Very Small Aperture Terminal, although tropical connections need to travel by the wider C-band because of
solar interference and consequently dishes are twice as large as the Ku-band satellites in temperate regions.
A VSAT dish in the backyard of what seemed like a well to do Kampala residence
connected to Colorado and gave a 64k connection to the US Internet backbone. This was
around half the size of a current dedicated domestic connection in the UK while a typical
university would start with a 4Mb connection which is the same as the current total capacity
for Kenya.

By 1996, full commercial Internet service had become the norm. The voluntary sector was
outcompeted in terms of status and the full functions of Internet – browsing, file transfer
and the possibilities of multimedia interaction. At the end of the year, regulation in Kenya
and Tanzania had accommodated these new technologies and, unlike Uganda, had
organised a system under state supervision. Tanzania opted for a network of VSATs where
any new public Internet Service Provider, corporation, or user could have service. Kenya
gave a leased line to its own satellite groundstation, afraid that the devolution of VSAT
would bypass the national and Internet telephone system, decimating revenues. The
charges for a permanent, live 64k connection were between $US200,000 and $215,000 per
year and the qualifications for service were money and 'suitability' for an operators licence.
Global connectivity was available at a price.

At the user end there was a growing diversity of means of connecting into remote data
sources. NGO email systems remain operational but limited while HF radio, and both
mobile and satellite telephones mean that any area can be connected. For $US10,000 it is
possible to purchase a solar power system, computer and connection through one of these
means but again, cost is the barrier. There are then five levels of connectivity – first,
owning your own dish or leased line; second dialling up over the public telephone for full
Internet; third dialling up for email, fourth connecting over wireless or mobile to Internet and
lastly, wireless or mobile to Internet. They represent varying degrees of spatial and cost
barriers to access and the move is towards shared connections, either through telecentres,
webmail9 or workplace email.

By 1999 the divisions between the national connectivity, where connections are by satellite,
and services available to industrialised countries had grown. In 1997 I asked Suchin Aiyer,
head of the East African Internet Association, how he saw the issues for the next few years
he replied, ‘ Bandwidth’ 10 This may seem the answer of a technician but it is at the heart of
dilemmas for developing countries. The capacity of national connections determines the
volume and speed of domestic connections to be shared out by subscribers. Latest and
best services are based on the assumption of a minimum connection and if the best figures
are taken then Kenya’ s 4Mb total bandwidth divided by the conservative estimate of 15,000
users gives a connection of 273 bits per second. With crowded lines, it would be very
difficult to download a text document from the world wide web, let alone hold a small video
conference or listen to streaming audio from a net radio site. These possibilities are limited
and dependable service is limited to the small hours or to users with dedicated

Available at any of the few cybercafes or through, for example, a university connection
Interview, Suchin Aiyer, Nairobi, 29th August 1997
News stories such as this show how some can use data connections to help implement
global co-ordination:

The World Bank is "excited" about Uganda's 1998/99 budget presented by the amiable
Minister Gerald Sendaula last week, Robert Blake the bank's country representative
has said. In a teleconference between World Bank officials and Finance technocrats
Friday at the Ministry headquarters, special mention was made of provisions in the
budget deliberately intended to boost UPE school enrolment with a 50% increase on its
projects and conditional grants.11

Other stories indicate that even basic telephone services cannot be guaranteed:

Moroto's single telephone line is out of service, cutting off communication to the region,
The Monitor has learnt. The district post master, Moses Ogwang, said Sept. 1, that the
line developed a technical fault last year and has not been repaired. "I have sent
reports to our regional headquarters in Mbale but there are no steps being taken to
reinstate the service," he said. He said following the region's poor roads, telephones
would be a viable alternative means of communication. Ogwang said the business
community has resorted to an emergency postal line that is ever congested and doesn't
receive in-coming calls. He however revealed that a 1,000-telephone line equipment
donated by the Irish government is lying unutilised, uninstalled.12

The thesis will examine three points in the disintegration of state and telecommunication
and development possibilities from new services: FidoNet email, international
telecommunications and Internet; to determine the durability and redirection of social
change in the face of technical reconfiguration. This will be done first by seeking patterns in
the qualitative data of traffic intensity and direction. Second these findings will be
underpinned and overlain by mixed methods to fix ideas, orientations and ratios of
infrastructure. Finally the research will seek histories of telecommunications and qualitative
indications and justifications of, change from principal actors and observers.

The spur for this investigation has been to answer telecommunications and the transaction
data they produce. Each telephone call is logged for duration and direction and these are
compiled into annual statistics while each electronic mail message is tracked from source
to destination. These reveal trends and patterns of communication geographies of nations
and their links, for individuals and their Internet domains. Such spatial data can be misread
without substantial cross-referencing to linkages to real world and virtual world data. The
datasets are immense and precise and miss the contexts of intent versus coincidence,
stasis versus change and affluence versus poverty. This investigation will offer an
interpretation of electronic communication in East Africa using the width of human
interactions over time and distance.

Chapter Two explores forces of communication from trade winds to imperial telegraphs and
addresses the largest scales of the manipulation of space. Missionaries and voluntarism
summoned the technical and military resources of empire to a project of civilisation that
reoriented East Africa to monetised and regularised commodity producing economies. The
chapter gives character to the ways in which the means of communication allowed small
numbers of troops and then settlers and administrators to control such a wide space.
Kakembo TW (1998) ‘Sendaula' s budget excites World Bank’ The Monitor, June 15th 1998, my emphasis
Onyang S (1998) ‘Moroto phones out of service’ The Monitor, September 7th 1998
Contemporary theories of imperialism annotate the course of technological installation and
assimilation into cultures of opposition.

Chapter Three outlines the production of development theories against the background of
huge infrastructure projects and the spread of social concern under colonial rule. It moves
arguments between growth and basic needs through the end of colonialism and into the
era of national independence in East Africa. The literatures of timespace and globalisation
are aligned with development theory and markers of telecommunications installation
ground the arguments. The chapter closes by outlining measures of inputs, outputs and
balances in communications access and exchange.

Chapter Four describes the methodological framework of the thesis. The priorities of data
gathering and the accurate reflection of real and virtual world data are counterpoised in
choices of techniques. A mixed methods approach is taken and literatures of research
techniques are examined to determine the losses and gains from this direction. The
specific issues of researching electronic communications are tackled and studies of
modernisation and representation are questioned. An integral element is an investigation of
ethics and privacy in researching datasets of telecommunications transaction-generated

Chapter Five introduces FidoNet and Non-governmental email networks and weighs up the
legacy of voluntarism and communications. The configuration of these new information
systems and exchanges are assessed as precursors of the shift from telephone to data
networks. This is given context by regional uses and experiences of networking over
distance and the changes induced in underlying relationships between sectors and
institutions. Detail is added by an assessment of their traffic patterns and the triangulation
of national representation within international currents of electronic interaction.

Chapter Six brings the role of the state as communications mediator and planner into focus
by examining the reactions of the governments of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to the
threat to telephone networks from technological alternatives. It uses the comparisons of
telephone traffic balances to illustrate fundamental shifts in the patterning of
communications and assesses the role of technology versus the role of government where
East African telecommunications experiences add to a full assessment of the implications.
The sequence dovetails into Chapter Seven by laying down the foundations of the Internet
protocol through its fabric of political and economic building blocks.
Chapter Seven delivers an appraisal of Internet economy and regulation in East Africa. It
presents evidence on capacities, user profiles and comparative traffic movements taken
from computerised data sources. These are weighted against new geographical structures,
fixing of links, the creation of bonds and the determinants of access and connectivity. Ideas
of information filters, brokers and interfaces are assessed against attempts to introduce
instant connection for rural and agricultural communities. The chapter concludes by
gauging the priorities of growth against new dependencies of satellite-peripheries.

Chapter Eight reintroduces the idea of development into a context shaped by distanced
information exchange, strengthened financial ties and the positioning of technology in East

Africa. It takes an industry and sector approach to outline the momentum of change and
local response in health, education and environment. Examining newsgroup content gives
a survey of the geographical and institutional vectors of distanced interaction amongst
issues-based networks. Opinion and examples are carried within the case studies and
order the findings on the experience and practice of global computer networks in East

The thesis concludes with a summary of the trends of instant connection and their place in
the economies and societies of East Africa. It underlines the switch to open markets in an
interconnected world economy and the peripherality of the region in terms of
datacommunications. It concludes that small local change needs multipliers in order to
match deep, widespread and global forces of communication

Chapter Two
The configuration of East Africa

This chapter looks at the introduction of modern communications infrastructure to East
Africa in the 19th Century as part of the colonising process. Explorers and missionaries
used local means of communication then, agents of government incorporated the telegraph
and railways as means of moving information, people and goods. Their motivations were to
impose imperial systems of control, communication and production to improve both the
speed of their actions and to alter the ways in which local societies and economies
operated. Contemporary theories addressed issues of the extension of technology and
control with a broad brush while accepting the underlying ideologies of 'progress'. By
examining theory, technology and practice together, chains of thoughts and processes can
be reconstructed to examine how modern communications were deployed and received
and can assess their effects on international and global patterning of political and economic

The periodicity that encompasses these empire-colony relations takes a communications

technology perspective from trade winds and caravans, through the cabling of Africa and
into the steam age, but is grounded by the colonial project. The period 1845-1890 saw the
establishment of contacts between local rulers and missionaries, explorers then diplomats.
Secondly, between 1890 and 1910 colonial control was established through a combination
of treaties, military conquest and occupation of territory while between 1900 and 1920
settler economies, plantation and primary commodity production together where
established and full colonial control by the British over the entire territory of Kenya,
Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar was recognised.

The coast, the interior, connections and trade

The conquest of Latin America and parts of Asia and Africa by the Spanish and Portuguese
in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries foreshadowed late nineteenth century aspirations of
territorial and economic expansion in Africa. East Africa has had a history of regional trade
and exchange at all levels. It was integrated into wider and distant economies long before
German and British penetration in the 1880s. In particular the coastal region had a tradition
of trade with the hinterland and across the Indian ocean. The culture of the coast and the
ethnic mix of its population reflected hybridity both in language and in ethnic mix1. By the
15th century there was a strong Portuguese presence and they occupied key coastal
trading centres, notably Zanzibar between 1506 and 16942. They were replaced by the
influence and military strength of the commercial Omani empire which was consolidated in
the 18th Century. The French, Americans and British established diplomatic representation
in the mid 19th Century. Throughout, coastal settlements and populations were linked,
primarily through trade, to the interior of the region and the systems of exchange stretched
to the borders of the present day Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The interior had

Allen has described the Swahili not as a tribe or by kinship ties but as a ‘ highly permeable population whose
common factor is cultural… ’ Allen JV (1996) Swahili origins: Swahili culture and the Shungwaya phenomenon
James Currey, London p24
Nabudere D (1981) Imperialism in East Africa, Volume 1, Imperialism and exploitation Zed, London p6
distinctive modes of subsistence and accumulation but was still defined by the trading
routes and patterns with the coast and by Swahili influence.

The key economic activities of these fortified coastal settlements (mji) were the trading of
slaves, ivory and spices. Zanzibar was the focus of trade from the 19th century, based on
its stability and security. Its trade ‘ depended for three-quarters of its value on commodities
coming from a vast hinterland that extended halfway through middle Africa by the third
quarter of the nineteenth century’ 3. Bolstered by the monsoon trade winds, a seasonal
exchange of goods allowed the operation of an economy that encompassed the Red Sea,
Persian Gulf and the Indian subcontinent. The coastal Swahili culture was firmly oriented to
the wider commerce and influence of the Indian Ocean and was dependent on revenues
from the trading of commodities produced outside its immediate territory. It was an
economic and cultural interface4.

The interior was interconnected with the wider Indian Ocean economy and provided most
of the exported commodities of Zanzibar and other ports between Lamu, Mombasa and
Lindi. There were three layers of trading that transcended essentially agricultural and
pastoral production. First was a spatially limited and small scale mutual exchange,
exemplified by the Hima agriculturalists and Ankole pastoralists to the north-west of Lake
Victoria. The second was a wider trade in rarer commodities such as iron and salt where
their production was specific to the location of raw materials. Within this loop Banyankole
cattle and crops were traded for salt at Katwe, on Lake George, the Baganda gave the
input of bark-cloth and raffia fibres5 while the Langi provided soldiers6. Third, long distance
commerce over routes that stretched to present day Congo and to the coast was
specialised and profit-based. It was characterised by complex transactions and bred ethnic
middlemen. Akamba and Arab traders, as both mobile and coastal or peri-coastal groups,7
dominated routes while there was a complex network of funders and intermediaries. ‘ The
primary creditors were generally Indian, many of the principally up-country traders were
Arab, the petty traders were usually islamicised Africans, and the retainers were often
slaves, some of the second generation or more.’ 8

Western trading powers became closely involved and spurred two main changes from the
1840s. First they added to the acceleration of regional trade as purchasers of commodities,
representing a growing European demand. Second they intervened in the coastal slave
trade. An impetus for extended trade was provided by European and Asian9 demand for
ivory, which forced prices up from the mid-nineteenth century10. Out-competed by Arabs,
Akamba traders had worn out nearby markets and became secondary suppliers before
fading into the commercial background. The coastal Arab traders in turn concentrated on
Sheriff A (1987) Slaves, spices & ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African commercial empire into the
world economy, 1770-1873 James Currey, London p155
For instance Swahili dance has been traced to African influence; architecture, medicine and astronomy to
Islamic roots: language and literature are hybrid formations. See Allen 1996:24-26
Gray R and Birmingham D (1970)(eds) Pre-Colonial African trade : essays on trade in Central and Eastern
Africa before 1900 Oxford University Press, London pp1-10, Good CM (1970) Rural markets and trade in East
Africa : a study of the functions and development of exchange institutions in Ankole, Uganda pp155-166
Marcia Wright (1985) East Africa 1870-1905 in Oliver and Sanderson pp 539-679, reference p541
i.e. non-local
Wright 1985:547
Ivory was commonly processed and crafted in Bombay for re-export to the West
Sheriff 1987:89-90
Figure AA sourcing further and more distant
supplies of ivory which was
complemented by a trade in slaves.
Their pattern of commercial activity
was to follow extensive economic
routes using caravans11. These
operated from the Indian Ocean
coastline and connected trading
centres and ethnic groups through
the East African region.

The political and economic

expansion of northern European
powers, including Britain, gave a
new momentum to colonial
acquisition. Capitalist trading
commerce spread from India to the
Indian Ocean coast and then probed
the interior along the established
trading paths shown in figure AA.
These routes also provided the
safest conduit for early European
incursions which were led by
explorers and Christian
missionaries. The conquest of East
Africa started from these human
contacts and physical penetration
and its motivations were a mixture of curiosity and competition backed up by a trading
bridgehead on the Indian Ocean coast. Slavery also operated on the same routes into the
interior and it was the combination of pressures from home, a will to civilise and tactical
motives that mobilised the British government to take action against this 'business' and ‘ on
behalf’ of the natives. However contemporary theorists saw the motivations from the
perspective of developments in the home economy. Rather than governments
implementing a new humanitarian order they saw a new ruling class chasing markets and
new sources of raw materials.

A heavily protected convoy of humans, pack animals and supplies for transporting people and goods long
Workers of the world
Writings that were influenced by the works of Marx successfully analysed parts of this
process of extending links of trade and control. These are grouped as relationships of
technology and the economy; fixed points of nationhood within global economy and
community; ratios of dependent economic change and the creation of poles of
development. They bracketed the period of imperial expansion in East Africa - Marx's
Manifesto sketched the outline of an imperial project while Hobson, Lenin, Bukharin and
Luxembourg ‘ backfilled’ his theories at the beginning of the twentieth century with more
thorough analyses of imperialism.

Marx's own analysis of these processes was made at the same time as the start of an
imperial phase in East Africa where nations began to compete for influence on the African
continent. He saw an extension of capitalist relations spearheaded by the rising European
powers which created new connections and new spaces. In Marx’ s words, ‘ The need of a
constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire
surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections
everywhere.’ 1 He saw greater global interaction driven by accumulation and the search for
new markets and sources of raw materials. Much of his work predated the actual period of
colonial conquest in Africa and he had no integrated theory of imperialism. 2 However, in the
Communist Manifesto of 1848, he gave an explicit expression of the themes that influenced
theories of imperialism at the end of the 19th Century. They were grappling with the destiny
of the new proletariat and the legacy of slavery and feudalism, yet saw the battleground
extending beyond familiar territories. The themes persist and are present today in the
globalisation debate and Robertson’ s ‘ uncertainty phase’ 3 echoes Marx's catchphrase, ‘ all
that is solid has melted into air’ .

According to Marx, the new class of industrial masters was establishing and exploiting a
world market and introducing new contingent social relations. The bourgeoisie gave ‘ a
cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country has drawn
from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established
national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed’ . It led to a spatial
separation of manufacturing from the supply of inputs where traditional European industries
were ‘ dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question
for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but
raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not
only at home, but in every quarter of the globe.’ Not only were processes of accumulation
changing but they were in some sense, ‘ progressive’ . ‘ In place of the old local and national
seclusion and self-sufficiency we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-
dependence of nations. National independence and narrow-mindedness become more and

Marx K (1969) Communist Manifesto Penguin UK p149
Marx described imperialism as ‘ the most prostitute and the ultimate form of the state power which nascent
middle class society had commenced to elaborate as a means of its own emancipation from feudalism, and
which full-grown bourgeois society had finally transformed into a means for the enslavement of labour by
capital.’ Marx K (1971), The civil war in France, Third address, May 1871 Progress, Moscow; quote Chapter 3,
line 812. He was however describing inter-European imperialism rather than observed ‘overseas’ imperialism.
See also The 18th Bromaire of Louis Napoleon, Chapter 7, Line 419
Robertson R (1992) Globalisation: Social theory and global culture Sage London p60
more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world
literature’ 4.

Marx’ s 'workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains' was born from
these formative international bonds and divisions of labour. His work showed processes of
international production that built both strong economic links and dependent relations
between colonies and colonisers. The interplay of cotton workers and producers in
Lancashire and in India represented a shifting of manufacture and value added to the
centre of empire, Britain, and reduced the role of the colony to the producer of raw or semi-
processed commodities. Similarly East Africa could expect movements in economy, politics
and culture that reflected the interests of the bourgeois British and German states, that
would introduce a separation of functions of production and institute determining global
links. They would also introduce uncertainties of change and status together with new
means of survival, forms of property and ownership.

The cusp of imperialism

The actual processes of imperialism proved more complex and subtle than Marx suggested
but the effects were as disruptive as he had predicted. The British imperial mindset was
fashioned by aristocratic explorers, priests, soldiers and diplomats on the ground, together
with working class patriotism and jingoism drummed-up by newspapers back home. The
media were in turn fed by greater numbers of telegraphic reports fed by distant reports and
news events. Imperialism was justified throughout Africa by the need to civilise and
imperialists explained their actions in the doublespeak of moral and economic terms. For
instance Lord Lugard, a leading officer of the Imperial British East Africa Company
(IBEAC), explained the imperial mission, in retrospect, in classical terms:

As Roman imperialism laid the foundations of modern civilisation, and led the wild
barbarians of these islands along the path of progress, so in Africa today we are
repaying the debt, and bringing to the dark places of the earth, the abode of barbarism
and cruelty, the torch of culture and progress, while administering to the material needs
of our own civilisation.1

Lugard had admitted that the, ‘ partition of Africa was, as we all recognise, due primarily to
the economic necessity of increasing the supplies of raw materials and food to meet the
needs of the industrialised nations of Europe’ 2. Similarly, Chancellor Bismarck of Germany
declared to the Reichstag in 1884 that colonies would give ‘ new aid to the development of
German shipping, German maritime enterprise, German economic life and German export’
that would ‘ promote the winning of new outlets for German industry and the extension of
trade, and which leave open a gateway for German work, German civilisation and German
capital.’ 3

Kopenon comments on this advent of full-blooded German imperialism. He described the

context as a contradiction between development and exploitation. The term development

Marx 1969:83-84
Lugard FD (1971) ‘The dual mandate in Africa’ in Curtin PD (1971)(ed) Imperialism Harper and Row, London
Kopenon J (1993) ‘The partition of Africa: A scramble for a mirage?’ Nordic Journal of African Studies Vol2
No1 pp117-139 quote p134
handily encapsulates the idea of economic progress, modernisation and civilisation much in
the way that Livingstone might have expressed it. Exploitation describes an amoral
expropriation of resources without regard to the social cost of this action. Kopenon reveals
an interweaving of these value concepts and ‘ whether colonialism entailed development or
exploitation proved flawed. Development was, rather, a necessary precondition for
exploitation; what colonialism entailed was development for exploitation.’ 4 The pattern of
penetration followed this analysis. Modern technology and the routes they forced
influenced the scale, nature and possibilities of production. Development and ‘ progress’
fuelled the net transfer of resources from East Africa to European markets.

Yet in East Africa slavery was the issue which united missionaries, 5 the Imperial British
East Africa Company, the British government and popular support back home. Local
modes of production and exchange in the interior were influenced by the long distance
trade of caravans which engaged in the acquisition, movement and sale of slaves. In
Zanzibar and Mombasa, the growing influence of the British state was manifested in the
control of the coastal slave trade. It had an Indian ocean presence of around seven
cruisers6 for the stated purpose of preventing slaving. While action was seen to be taken
against the transportation of slaves on the sea and the coastline, there was no presence
even to observe the trade in the interior until the arrival of explorers and missionaries.
When they ventured inland, from the 1870s, they shared the same means of
communication – runners and caravans – and similar routes to these traders. By this time,
a greater interest and involvement in the economic possibilities of the region brought
European powers into conflict with established ethnic and commercial interests. Hence
there was competition with these traders and over the ivory trade. The tempo of trade had
also risen quite recently and produced new locales of power. Lonsdale sums up these
elements well and states that, ‘ The intensity of East Africa's export trade in ivory, slaves
and latterly in rubber, was a quite recent phenomenon; its commercial morality was
provided by Islam, not Christianity; and its network of goods and alliances had provided the
means for new men to assemble power over the interior's stateless societies more often
that it enforced old authority.’ 7
The presence and agency of missionaries and explorers, together with a policy of
opposition to slavery and Christian ideology both gave moral dimensions to the conflict.
The moral friction between the traders of East Africa and Europeans was overt but
commercial competition for commodities was also growing. A resolution of these issues did
not lie within the scriptures but rather in the ‘ Protestant ethic’ and this was contextualised
by David Livingstone, the explorer and missionary. Theories of progress and civilisation
that incorporated an ethic of business and righteousness were articulated in Livingstone’ s
manifesto for an ‘ open path for commerce and Christianity’ . He saw that, ‘ this was a
country invaded by Coastmen whose exploitation of it carried few mitigating features’ and
that, ‘ the task would only be accomplished by the impact of civilised and Christian society

They were well positioned and with high level contacts. Wright states that the, ‘ missionary outposts fitted into
local patterns of politics and economic life, becoming centres of refuge, reconnaissance, and diplomacy’ Wright
Oliver R (1967) The Missionary Factor in East Africa Longmans, Green and Company London pp2-3,
Coupland R (1939) The exploitation of East Africa London pp162-166
Lonsdale J (1985) ‘The European scramble and conquest in African history’, in Oliver R and Sanderson GN
(1985) Cambridge History of Africa Vol.6 Cambridge University Press pp680-750, quote page 684
as a whole’ 8. He envisaged a transformation in the way of life which would allow natives to
pay for traded goods with cotton they had grown and by destroying the disguised slavery of
porterage by its replacement with mechanical transport. This manifesto of change saw
modernisation as a regional agent of change and a British conception of ‘ free’ labour as
morally superior to shifting patronage and the tied system of ‘ slavery’ 9.

There were direct consequences from these interpretations of native needs. At the time of
Livingstone’ s death in 1873, there was a call from the Daily Telegraph10 that ‘ the work of
England for Africa must henceforth begin in earnest where Livingstone left it off’ .11 Two
years later the paper published a letter written by his colleague, Stanley, which challenged
missionary societies to follow the work of the explorers. Following this plea, a strong wave
of public opinion backed by financial subscriptions, gave support and funds for missionary
work. The Church Missionary Service, White Fathers and Free Church were soon actively
establishing links to Central Africa from the coast.

The dynamic was set. Missionaries became the leading presence and the vanguard of
commercial and diplomatic efforts. In commercial terms, ‘ until private European settlement,
the mission plantations alone produced the sorely needed cash crops’ and they introduced
coffee, cotton and rubber to key agricultural regions12. Diplomatically, it was ‘ inevitable that
the mere presence of missionaries of various European nationalities in a territory like East
Africa should have become one of the determining factors as soon as that territory became
an object for competition among the European powers’ .13 Missionaries had shaped and
influenced the moral, strategic and economic fulcra of European agency in East Africa.
Livingstone’ s economic agenda showed a pathway to civilised change. The era of
imperialist penetration was to be guided by a surface of moral change and a technical and
economic agenda of expropriation.

Indigenous means of communication

At the same time there were other changes at the coast. The arrival of the telegraph in
Zanzibar in 1880 meant that there was a bridgehead of modernity in East Africa. While the
British escalated their regional involvement, international communications had become
critical to keep government and decision makers involved in diplomatic negotiations and to
offer military and diplomatic back-up. Innovations such as the electric telegraph started to
transform relationships over long distances yet offered only point to point connectivity.
While the telegraph landed at the coast, native means of communication operated into the
interior and the combination of rumour and runners allowed a comparative advantage. Until
the deployment of modern infrastructure these means – runners and Swahili caravans –
contributed to a tool-kit of methods to command, control, co-ordinate and transport the
people and resources of empire.

The movement of goods and information in East Africa used to follow established, local
means although no records were kept before the arrival of the British and Germans. Even
Oliver 1967:11
Cooper1992:215-216; Sheriff 1987:149-150
The title of the paper signified that it was on the cutting edge of 19th century media
Oliver 1967:35
Oliver 1967:177
Oliver 1967:161
then and until the turn of the century, the geography of the hinterland and extent of
operations meant that messages were likely to pass through human carriers - either
caravans or runners. Uganda and western territories were linked by a series of runners
along the main roads and there are many anecdotes relating the dangers. According to
Scott and Thomas, 'more than one runner lost his life in attempting to ford flooded rivers or
in encounters with lions.’ 1

Table AB shows data on the runner system which delivered at first, word of mouth
messaging and next, written messages. This was a rapid means of communication and
appropriate for the conditions. The use of the written word in messaging also introduced a
further communications level, mode and protocol. It allowed data compression at the
expense of revealing the text and therefore required encryption to ensure security. Runners
were a formalised and directed version of the rumour system or 'bush telegraph'; an
example of its operation in pre-colonial circumstances is given by Hill. He relates the
occasion when Frederick Jackson arrived in Mumias, close to the Ugandan border, in 1890
and unexpectedly found letters from King Mwanga of Buganda. 'The letters were dated
June 15th, a remarkable instance of the speed with which news travelled across native
Africa, for on that date Jackson's caravan had not long left the coast.'2

Table AB
Timing of the runner system1
From To Distance Time
Mombasa Kikuyu 345 Miles 11 days
Mombasa Eldama Ravine 495 Miles 20 days
Kampala Fort Portal 207 Miles 2½ days

The use of runners implied that the sender had the economic and authoritative power to
organise a human chain of information. However, long distance messaging was
complemented by long distance transport and trade. The caravan system required a great
deal of logistical preparation and investment to travel long distances and relatively
independently of local resources. For instance, a caravan put together for the purpose of
surveying the Uganda railway in 1892 comprised: 7 Europeans; 41 Indians; 7 Swahili
headmen and interpreters; 40 askaris; 270 porters; 24 cooks, servants and gun-bearers;
and 60 donkeys.2 Table AC shows the speed of a caravan from the Indian Ocean coast to
the capital of Buganda. It was very slow and sections such as the crossing of the Rift Valley
sections between Naivasha and the Nile required climbs and diversions. A further means of
communication in support of the caravan was needed to allow effective co-ordination over

Table AC
Timing of a caravan system1
From To Distance Time Total Time
Mombasa Machakos 286 miles 30 days 30 days

Thomas HB and Scott R (1935) Uganda Government of Uganda, Kampala p241
Hill MF (1976) Permanent way, Volume 1 English Press, Nairobi p32
Data from Mungeam GH (1978) Kenya: Select historical documents 1884-1923 East African Publishing
House, Nairobi and Thomas and Scott 1935:241
Hill, 1976:70
Mungeam, 1978:52
Machakos Kikuyu 60 miles 5 days 35 days
Kikuyu Naivasha 40 miles 4 days 39 days
Naivasha Baringo 90 miles 20 days 59 days
Baringo Nile 170 miles 26 days 85 days
Nile Kampala/Mengo 60 miles 5 days 90 days

The traders relied on the caravan system for trade and the employment of many porters
showed their need for labour. Forced labour was a short step away from slavery and their
operations expanded into that area. They controlled the slave trade inland and used their
caravan routes for the transport captives gathered ‘ off the beaten track’ and also collected
through middlemen as tribute or for commercial gain.

The destruction of slavery would entail the wholesale reconfiguration of East African means
of communication, firstly to combat the threat of slavery and secondly to provide swift,
modern means in order to carry European traffic.

'There is no doubt that the slave caravans across that territory can be destroyed by one
method, and by one method certainly, if that method can be applied. Sir William
Mackinnon is doing his best to lay a railway from the coast to the Victoria Nyanza. Now,
the peculiarity of a railway, where it is once laid it kills every other mode of locomotion
that formerly held the same ground. After a railway has existed some time there cannot
be - except as a matter of luxury or caprice - any other kind of locomotion to compete
with it. If a railway could exist from this lake to the coast, caravans could no more be
employed as they are employed now to carry ivory, produce to the interior, to the coast
or back again, and it is by these caravans that the bodies of slaves are brought along. It
costs two or three hundred times as much to bring goods by caravan as it would cost to
bring them by railway. Of course, when once a railway existed, caravans would
become a matter of antiquity, and if no caravans existed, there would be no means of
carrying slaves from the interior to the coast, because I do not see that any slave-
dealer who presented himself with a body of slaves to be carried on trucks to the coast
would be very civilly received.'1

Lord Salisbury had shown how modern communications could obliterate all that preceded.
Similarly, the runner system would be destroyed by the arrival of the telegraph. This in turn
would imply a change in the circuits of economic exchange fed by demand for ivory, slaves,
hides and salt. Just as Marx had predicted these destructive tendencies, theorists of
imperialism would outline the regrouping of productive forces and means, building networks
of power and accumulation bonded by culture, economy and communications.

Regional security and deals

Missionaries had spread Christian settlements and converted entire regions by the 1890s.
Buganda became a dividing line between northern and coastal Arabs, Protestant and
Roman Catholic Christians. Sir Gerald Portal, outgoing governor of East Africa,
encapsulated regional strategy in terms of both a religious and political struggle for control -
Europeans versus Arabs.

‘ Everything, I fear, seems to point to a desperate and perhaps long-continued struggle

in the centre of Africa between the advances of European civilisation from the coasts
on the East and the West, and the old class of Arab traders...In determining both the
nature and the result of this contest, the position of the Christian country of Uganda is
of vital importance. Even now it is known that frequent communications pass from the
Speech by Lord Salisbury, 20th May 1891, Glasgow quoted in Hill (1976:54) which skilfully avoids mention of
the actual costs or the logistics of building the railway
Arabs of Tanganyika and Tabora to the fanatical Mohammedans at Wadelai and along
the White Nile....So long as Uganda is under European supervision, there is little or no
danger of these probable disturbances spreading from South to North, but I fear that
the withdrawal of the present control, and the consequent loss of prestige...would
shake the position of Europeans throughout East and Central Africa.’ 1

The consequent rush for Uganda again pushed forward state objectives over quasi-
commercial ventures such as the chartered Imperial British East Africa Company. Indirect
exploitation was overridden by state objectives, pushed by arguments for imperialism that
won over the British parliament. Britain and Germany became directly involved in the take-
over of East Africa and in 1890 sign the Anglo-German treaty, partitioning the region
between themselves. Wright states that the ‘ active conquest of East Africa took place
between 1888 and 1900 through sporadic and sustained military campaigns best called
colonial wars’ 2 Moral imperatives coexisted with economic imperatives. Caravans and
slavery were substituted by the railway and plantations. Tactics of divide and rule, backed
up by military action and co-ordinated by the telegraph, consolidated colonial control.
Figure AD shows the approximate spread and operation of ‘ phases’ of involvement in East
Africa. The two later, distinct and interlocking processes of imperialism in East Africa both
required the historical force of naval supremacy to be linked with the distant resources of
Britain, India and South Africa. For this, they relied on international communications,
primarily over telegraph lines. Initially the military and diplomatic phase established
physical and political control. This was followed by settlement and consolidation. The
military was also used as a force of reaction against organised resistance to newly allied
powers. Both processes were dependent on the distant resources of empire and these
contacts were maintained throughout by the telegraph network.

Figure AD
Schedule of imperialism
Coast ‘ Interior’ Highlands Lake Victoria
Exploration 15th Century 1847 1876 1858-62
Missionary 1840s onwards 1878 1890-1920 1881
Diplomatic 1830s onwards 1884 1890-1900 1870-1920 Penetration
Military 1509-1905 1885 1890-1960 1885-1920
Administration Consolidation
Settlers Traders Few 1900-1950 few

Theories of imperialism
Karl Marx had isolated the bourgeoisie as the fulcrum on which the imperialist project
turned and the will to accumulate as the force behind first, the destruction of the old order
and second, the interconnection of distant territories into a worldwide capitalist system. The
European imperialism of the late nineteenth century and the division of Africa introduced
new examples and experiences on the territorial spread of capitalism. The next generation
of commentators focused on the rôle of international finance capital, the close involvement
of banks and investment networks together with the state in the spatial expansion of the
apparatus of exploitation. Hobson wrote, ‘ Imperialism, as we see, implies the use of the
machinery of government by private interests, mainly capitalists, to secure for them

FO 2/60 1st November 1893
Wright 1985:567
economic gains outside their country.’ 1 It was Hobson’ s left-progressive analysis which
inspired much of the subsequent writings on imperialism and his theme ran through the
work of Lenin, Hilferding, Bukharin and Luxembourg.

Hobson railed against the militarism and jingoism which imperialism inspired and especially
at the time of the British war against the Boers in South Africa. However much of the writing
on imperialism at the beginning of the century was aimed squarely at providing a Marxist
analysis of the First World War2 and to rally support for working class movements. Marxist
theories of imperialism concentrated on the proletarians of industrialised countries as
subjects of exploitation while generalising many of the structural developments in the new
colonies and bypassing explanations of deeper, cultural change. The literatures swarmed
on Hobson’ s framework and similarly identified economic causes and effects of
imperialism. The theories were also explicit attempts at examining processes of global
interlinkage through the capitalist system where imperialism was seen as the expansion of
capitalist enterprise throughout the world. The force of competition operated through
national foreign policies that prioritised territorial and colonial conquest. Competition was
revealed first as a struggle between civilisation and barbarism and second between the
power blocs of European empires.

Late 19th century venture capital had floated more spatially capable and profit-hungry
investment networks. They were freed from traditional patronage relations and the
bourgeois both fuelled and altered structures of financial capital, banking systems and joint
stock companies through their agency. Technologies of industrialism – from shift working
and divisions of labour to capital goods and communications – were a part of this same
movement. It was one that influenced and guided the budgets of fledgling, bourgeois,
democracies and that mobilised. Administrators and businessmen shared the aim of
overcoming boom and slump and producing a return. Capitalist connections were used as
means of, and in order to perpetuate, active engagement in the imperialist project of
dominating large areas of the world.

There are three strands to follow in this sequel to the ‘ primitive accumulation’ of slavery and
plantation economies. They closely mirror the three elements I isolated from Marx’ s work,
have survived through the colonial era, and are strongly represented in post-colonial and
contemporary theory. First was an idea of integrated economic change and exploitation via
the forging of global links through technology. This has been emphasised in time-space
accounts and theories3 and through the higher gearing of communication, accumulation
and production. Second, the forcing and acceptance of globalising models which are
emphasised in nationalism and globalisation discourses. They represent global models of
stasis and seriality in identity and economy in a context of an ‘ inter-dependence of nations’ .

Hobson JA (1938) Imperialism: a study Allen and Unwin, London p94
Brewer (1989) Marxist theories of imperialism. A critical survey Routledge, London p80
see for instance Giddens A (1979) Central problems in social theory. Action, structure and contradiction in
social analysis Hutchinson, London; Thrift N (1994) ‘Inhuman geographies: Landscapes of speed, light and
power’ in Cloke PJ et al (1994) Writing the rural. Five cultural geographies Paul Chapman, London pp191-248;
Urry J (1985) ‘Social relations, space, time’ in Gregory D and Urry J (eds) Social relations and spatial structures
MacMillan, London pp20-48; Lefebvre H (1991) The production of space Blackwell Press, Oxford; Harvey D
(1990) The condition of postmodernity Blackwell Press, Oxford
Third, the creation of poles of development and inequalities of power show economy and
control in international and regional relations that are the basis of dependency theories.

Theories of imperialism starkly emphasise their case in a bare and unsituated economic
world and were crafted in the era of revolutions and the dissolution of many imperial
powers. Meanwhile the effects of these three influences of imperialism as globalism have
worked through the historical economies and cultures of East Africa. These are
represented by a further section that situates the generalities of Marxist analysis in a
regional overview.

Three strands
Technology and economy
The capacity for capital to seek new markets in conjunction with technological innovations
is a constant. Marx’ s work gave a flavour of an economic base that, in alliance with the
chartered companies of imperialism and subsequent conquest and colonial administration,
fuelled the extension and control of economy and influenced society and politics.

‘ The chief means of reducing the time of circulation is improved communications...On

land the macadamised road has been displaced by the railway, on sea the slow and
irregular sailing vessel has been pushed into the background by the rapid and
dependable steamboat line, and the entire globe is being girdled by telegraph wires.
The Suez Canal has fully opened East Asia and Australia to steamer traffic. The time of
circulation of a shipment of commodities to East Asia, at least twelve months in 1847,
has now been reduced to almost as many weeks...America and India, have been
brought from 70 to 90 per cent nearer to the European industrial countries by this
revolution in transport, and have thereby lost a good deal of their explosive nature [as
centres of crises]. The period of turnover of the total world commerce has been
reduced to the same extent, and the efficacy of the capital involved in it has been more
than doubled or trebled. It goes without saying that this has not been without effect on
the rate of profit.’ 1

Lenin used the railways as an example of an amalgam of the capitalist industries of ‘ coal,
iron and steel’ ; the structures of ‘ large scale industry, monopolies, syndicates, cartels,
trusts, banks and financial oligopolies’ ; and the ideology of ‘ democratic, cultural and
civilising enterprise’ . Combined, they ‘ converted this railway construction into an instrument
for oppressing a thousand million people (in the colonies and semi-colonies), that is, more
than half the people of the globe inhabiting the dependent countries, as well as the wage
slaves of capital in the “ civilised” countries’ 2. This integrating force of innovation combined
with the will to profit saw steam, electric power, and petroleum driven conquest led by
military technologies and co-ordinated by telecommunications negotiating physical distance
and imposing rule. Imperialism was an integrated mechanism that operated in a global
context and altered relations of distance and communication.

Hilferding’ s analysis of imperialism looked at the processes of incorporation of colonies into
the ideological infrastructure of progress, technology and the nation state. He emphasises
disembedding, fracturing and detraditionalisation together with the element of
reconstructing the future and the mimesis of the conquered thus:
In the newly opened up countries the capital imported into them intensifies
antagonisms and excites against the intruders the constantly growing resistance of the
peoples who are awakening to national consciousness; this resistance can easily
develop into dangerous measures against foreign capital. The old social relations
become revolutionised, the age long agrarian isolation of ‘ nations without history’ is
destroyed and they are drawn into the capitalist whirlpool. Capitalism itself gradually
provides the subjugated with the means and resources for their emancipation and they
set out to achieve the goal which once seemed highest to the European nations: the
creation of a united national state as a means to economic and cultural freedom.1

Marx K (1972) Capital, Volume 3 Progress, Moscow Chapter 3
Lenin 1975:5, ibid:116-118
Hilferding in Lenin 1975:146-147
Hilferding anticipated contemporary arguments in the work of Giddens and Robertson2 that
the globalised world was first constructed in the form of the nation state and that economic
procedures take place in a wider global framework of units. It was a break from the
entrenched views that placed a few global powers competing for control in a finite world, as
Lenin had said. This handily explained European competitive expansion and the causes of
the First World War in imperialist terms but not the processes of conflict. Hilferding
revealed the nationalisms that would underlie the means to freedom in the periphery.
Monetisation and taxes would lead to migrant labour. The osmosis of cultural oppositions
within a shared colonial state would negate the reasons for separation. The spread of
technologies would involve the delegation of their operation and control. With the model of
‘ a nation’ to copy then the experience of modern practices and forms could coincide in a
common locus.

Poles and peripheries

Bukharin followed Marx’ s analysis of the separation between the rural and the urban and
extended the process to a global scale. ‘ The cleavage between ‘ town and country’ as well
as the ‘ development of this cleavage’ , formerly confined to one country alone, are now
being reproduced on a tremendously enlarged basis. Viewed from this perspective, entire
countries appear today as ‘ towns’ , namely the industrial countries, whereas entirely
agrarian territories appear to be ‘ country’ 1 This theme of the creation of poles is at the heart
of dependency thinking the idea of centre and periphery. The rise of third-world
nationalisms prompted an expansion of these arguments in theories of economically
dependent links between the global, regional and local. These relationships extended
between ‘ developed’ and ‘ underdeveloped’ countries and within underdeveloped countries
themselves creating another layer of centre and periphery, and ‘ town and country’ .

Dependency theory was based on empirical evidence from the 1950s while the critique was
also relevant to the application of colonial policy for ‘ backward regions’ against the highly
European influenced colonial centres and capitals. Chains of economic exploitation,
justified through the imperative of economic development, linked centres to peripheries in a
hierarchy of administrative orders and co-ordinated by cable. The mechanisms of
underdevelopment seen by the dependistas were the expropriation of (usually primary)
resources and the maintenance of a stable global capitalist system and hierarchy. These
were ideas of trade and communication currents cycling materials and orders over global
spaces and exchanged between poles of power and production. The theories were
articulated in the era of nationalism yet the objective of liberation was the first common
cause and, as colonised peoples in the position of the ‘ dependent’ , there was an antithesis,
the rose-tinted mirror, to be ‘ in-dependent’ .

These first analyses of global symmetries, within the critique of imperialism, saw the
learning of new processes by the nation states of northern Europe together with financial
institutions. Technologies that affected the speed and reach and effectiveness of economic
and military power allowed fresh possibilities for conquest and accumulation. The era of
resistance to colonial rule and the reformulation of culture that was flagged by Hilferding
Robertson 1992, Giddens 1979, Giddens A (1995) A contemporary critique of historical materialism, Vol2: The
Nation state and violence Polity, Cambridge, UK
Bukharin in Brewer 1989:104
acted as a counterweight to these processes. The chains of parasitism that weighed down
local potential were there to be thrown off.

Telegraph - forces and means

The improved communications that Lenin had spoken of were already present in East
Africa from 1880 and the electric telegraph was integral to the imperial project. Cecil
Rhodes, the leading British imperialist, declared that, 'The railway is my right hand and the
telegraph is my voice'2 and envisaged a transcontinental network of cable and rail to spread
the ideas of progress and civilisation united with imperial control. The telegraph had also
been seen as a uniting force by Field, who poetically put it: 'Speed, speed the cable, let it
run,/ a loving girdle around the earth,/ till all the nations neath the sun / shall be as brothers
of one hearth'.3 Briggs and Maverick said that, 'It is impossible that old prejudices and
hostilities should longer exist, while such an instrument has been created for the exchange
of thought between all the nations of the earth.'4 The emphasis on intercommunication was
shared among the three and even strayed towards McLuhan's 1960s 'global village'
metaphor. The difference was that in Africa it was those in Rhodes’ mould who would
install modern means of communication – imperialists, colonialists, prospectors and military

In East Africa it catalysed the means of opening the interior to settlers and to modern forms
of production. The Imperial British East Africa Company, emphasised in its initial report,
‘ With the existing and ever increasing facilities of rapid communication by steam and
telegraph, the development of East Africa should not be a work of any great length of
time...’ 5 However the sequence of technological adoption and consolidation was of a
different pattern to other colonial and domestic projects and Table AE marks out some of
the timings of the transnational carriers of signs and messages.

quoted in Barty-King 1979:87
Field, H. M. (1898) The story of the Atlantic telegraph Charles Scribner's and Sons, New York
Briggs CF and Maverick A (1858) The story of the telegraph, and a history of the great Atlantic cable; a
complete record of the inception, progress and final success of that undertaking Rudd & Carleton, New York
Prospectus for investors, 1889, quoted in Mungeam 1978:44
Table AE
Schedule of carriers
Britain Uganda Tanzania Kenya
Arrival of:
British Control 1890 1919 1890
Telegraph 1837 1900 1880 1890
Telephone 1890s 1905 1905 1905
Rail 1830s 1923 1910 1898
Radiotelegraphy 1901 1910 1910 1907
Electronic Mail 1975 1990 1989 1987
Internet Protocol 1984 1995 1996 1996

The introduction of telecommunications in East Africa was a part of the spread of the British
empire. In that sense it did not herald pure global interconnection. It became a further
corner of the military and diplomatic telecommunications triangle that had linked Britain,
India and South Africa and stretched beyond the reach of the railway being constructed
west from the coast and along the Kenyan highlands. The boundaries of electric
communications were expanding rapidly and their development was shaped by
concentrated and erratic technological change. There was a constant quest for state funds
to finance communication networks that promised no quick returns on substantial
investment as they were located marginally and away from international information
arteries. Thus railway and telegraph systems were developed according to unfolding
priorities. The Britain to India cable was extended south of Aden to join an African loop at
South Africa and reached Zanzibar in the 1890s. When lines were laid into the interior, to
the south and north of Lake Victoria, in the first years of the twentieth century they did not
sprout capillary routes until much later. Distant and extreme regions of the East African
territories, long distance interconnections and urban networks were not entirely cabled until
the 1920s.

The medium of the telegraph had been developed initially as a complement to the railway
network and ‘ made possible a long distance signalling system and remote control’ ’ 1. Its first
working application was on the railway line between Euston and Camden in 1837 but the
alphabet pointer mechanism used was superseded by the Morse telegraph, patented in
18402. The Morse code was a more efficient protocol and initially allowed the transmission
of 40 to 50 words per minute. Based on this new information capacity and ‘ because the
telegraph used only very small and intermittent electric currents which could only be
supplied satisfactorily from [portable, cheap, reliable] batteries’ , the telegraph was ‘ the only
application of electricity which had come into worldwide use’ 3. Although it remained a
communications link easily laid along railway lines, it became a complement for the co-
ordination of shipping, capital and troop movements and globalised control mechanisms.

The experience of telegraphs within the distant empire had started in 1850 with cabling on
the Indian mainland. Following the mutiny of 1856, there was a new impetus for their
extension. Existing telegraphs had saved lives and money by giving early warnings of
rebellion. Communications had facilitated and improved troop deployment and movement.
Mumford L (1964) Technics and Civilization Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, New York p199
Pacey A (1990) Technology in world civilization: A thousand-year history. MIT Press, Cambridge, US p137-
Pacey 1990:168 my comments, my emphasis
If there had been swifter international action and communication, these losses could have
been reduced further. This justified a telegraph line between Britain and India with
additional lines within the country itself. The cable was laid overland but it was susceptible
to subversive operations by ‘ foreign powers’ who hosted the lines and fell victim to the
unreliable line management of the host countries4. Once completed, it proved invaluable for
commerce and government but both relied on security of information exchange. The
government had proposed an undersea cable to provide this security, together with greater
reliability from less intermediate connections and the advantage of complete British control.

The corollary of the acquired experience with telegraphy was presented to a House of
Commons select committee in 1866. Its report stated that, 'having regard to the magnitude
of the interests, political, commercial, and social, involved in the connection between this
country and India', there should be, ‘ reasonable support’ , for, ‘ a line practically under one
management and responsibility between London and the Indian Presidencies.'5 The
government had outlined a precedent
Figure AF for subsequent cabling policy. The
Cables around Africa 1870 – 1901 state would eventually subsidise a
global submarine cable network under
British control. It dominated world-wide
communications for the next 50 years,
remaining a space for the application
of power until the advent of the
satellite as a carrier medium.

The House of Commons select

committee was initially unwilling to
follow the Indian precedent when a
line to East and Southern Africa was
proposed. It insisted on commercial
capital input. Following the British
defeat by the Zulus at Isalndhlwana in
1879, the Disraeli government
conceded a subsidy on the grounds of
the security of colonial possessions.
The cost of the cable was borne by the
Eastern Telegraph Company through
its subsidiary arm but for the operation
of the cable it received £55,000 per
annum from the British government.6
This subsidy reflected the telegraph’ s
strategic rôle as a means of
communication with sound military and
political reasons for its existence and
Headrick (1991) The invisible weapon: Telecommunications and international politics 1851–1945 Oxford
University Press, Oxford p19
quoted in Headrick 1991:21, my emphasis
Headrick 1988:107
survival. The undersea cables were laid south from the Aden-Bombay link, landing at
Zanzibar. An extension was laid to Mombasa later in the year and three lines continued to
Portuguese southern Africa and terminated at Durban. By the time of the agreement of the
East African Protectorate in 1890, the coastal region was fully connected to the imperial
telegraph network.

Military phase by wire

In 1892 a violent power struggle in Buganda between indigenous Protestant and Catholic
factions threatened the evacuation of the IBEAC and missionaries from the territory. The
situation revealed a mismatch between administrative practice and communications
delivery. Plans for the abandonment of the area were prepared between the Imperial British
East Africa Company and the Foreign Office, yet there was a three month time lag between
messages leaving Mengo/Kampala and reaching Britain through the caravan system. The
situation had been resolved, with military and diplomatic control re-established, before the
affair ‘ engaged the earnest attention’ of the British government.1 On the coast, the
establishment of the protectorate over East Africa had intensified conflict within the Swahili
ruling class and sparked a rebellion by the Mazrui faction against the British and the Sultan
in 1896. The governor of the Protectorate, Hardinge, encouraged support for the British
among the ethnic Bantu African Nyika tribesmen of the coastal hinterland. To this end he
provided, 'a lively demonstration of a maxim gun and a war rocket...fired in their honour'.2
Although advocating a solution through force his actions were overtaken by a Foreign
Office decision to dispatch the 24th Baluchistan regiment from India, who ultimately quelled
the rebellion. He had been in frequent communication over the issue but was
countermanded through instant and remote orders.

There are important issues implicit in these actions. Headrick's argument is that imperialism
introduced new relationships of European colonists over native subjects and those of the
home country over its agents in the colonies. These relationships were tense and 'rapid
communications only made these tensions more instantaneous and more difficult to
defuse'.3 However, this judgement was made on an analysis of the Jameson Raid 4 and the
Fashoda incident and is insufficient for the complexities of this less infamous case.
Hardinge had followed typical patterns of problem solving and control within a British
tradition of divide and rule. He was backed up by military force yet in an immediate
situation of scarce coercive resources. The telegraph opened up options for a solution
based on the wider resources of empire and the ability of central power to allocate and
prioritise from a distance, based on its interpretation of his evidence. Hence local military
and diplomatic solutions were overruled through the immediacy of communications, the
impatience of the Foreign Office and an analysis which saw the deployment of troops from
India as an appropriate and punctual measure.

Telegram: Foreign office to Imperial East Africa Company, September 30th 1892 PRO FO/403/172
Mungeam GH (1966) British Rule in Kenya 1895 – 1912 Clarendon Press, Oxford p23
Headrick 1991:69
On this point, Harry Johnston noted that although he was informed of the Jameson raid by telegraph, ‘ the first
whiff of rumour concerning Jameson’s action came not by telegram but by a native report, showing how fast
news could in those days be carried from one native tribe to another. Native opinion in those days was always
anti-Boer and pro-British, and the first rumour was optimistic, presaging Jameson’s success ’ Johnston HH
(1923) The story of my life Bobs-Merrill, Indianapolis pp304-305. Clearly rumour transfers quickly but with
poor error correction.
This showed interactive diplomatic problem-solving through electrical media running
parallel with local means of communication. Clearly patterns of administration had shifted
from responding to situations in time sequence to formulating new methods of co-
ordination. These were governed, not by the time and date of arrival of messages but by
careful prioritising of situations while gaining the advantage of immediate response.

Military and diplomatic action had secured a strategic bridgehead and British territories to
the north and west of Lake Victoria. Electric communications had been essential to this
process and could run ahead of the more expensive, more permanent, railway lines.
Administration had to be adjusted to the edges of immediacy and process. Procedures
began to be formulated from this greater understanding. Telegraphic communications
continued to be used in a reactive manner but the building of the railway took lines ‘ up-
country’ and there was a change in strategic emphasis. The territory of Uganda was an
essential part of British control of the Nile and completed an uninterrupted swathe of
conquered territory extending from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. Once secured,
the civilising mission and economic enlightenment began in earnest and production and
settlement were consolidated.

In this consolidation phase, electronic communications started to offer continual and

reliable access from rural areas to metropolitan centres and to Britain. The influx of settlers
and administrators into the region to govern land and natives stimulated complex structures
that integrated government, economic and social administration. Until telegraph and rail
reached further inland interim communication systems continued to mimic established
native means of remote communication. Native runners were used to transport messages
and mail parcels while caravans safeguarded the transport of baggage and people.
Meanwhile, the railway and the telegraph were becoming the new communications
backbone of the imperial era. Co-ordination of different time-spaced means of
communication now had to be translated to rural situations and district administration. The
local government of a stable settler economy was to be arbitrated by junior officials, usually
fresh from Britain and with little training.
Time and space
The potential time for messages to reach their destinations in East Africa was reduced
again and again by technological change. Time and space were compressed5. Runners
and caravans were seemingly redundant but the system was far short of complete. Four
key systems of communication existed side by side. African communication systems were
predominantly local but co-existed with Arab-dominated caravan trading circuits that
stretched from the coast to the Rwenzori mountains. European communication systems
were based on a formal mail system that travelled by steamship, railway, runner or
caravan. The exception was the telegraph system. It used ‘ virtual’ transport systems. It
negotiated distance in a new manner where human systems and procedures were not yet
synchronised with its possible effects. The telegraph caused an imbalance in imperial
frames of time and space and the effects were reflected in the mechanisms by which the
African territories and African populations were governed.

My earliest reference for the term is Janelle D (1968) ‘Central place development in a time-space framework’
in Professional Geographer Vol. 20 pp5-10
The telegraph introduce technical elements and terms that can be understood in a cultural
context as well as changes in administrative and economic procedures. They provide
useful benchmarks of data exchange, information processing and practices of
communication. The four technical elements that I see as important throughout histories of
telecommunications are bandwidth, protocol, compression and encryption. Bandwidth
refers to the capacity and accuracy of the carriers - cables, transmitters and repeaters -
that comprise communications hardware. For the 'software' there was a slow change from
human to automatic control of messaging with the three elements of protocol, compression
and encryption. Protocol means 'the set of rules defining and controlling the interchange of
information between two sets of data processing equipment'6, in other words the lingua
franca by which machines communicate in networks. Compression is the improvement in
the rate of data exchange through space saving and error correction techniques which
allow more efficient and cost effective use of carrier media. Finally, encryption adds
security to data exchanges, locking content by a means of a cryptogram or algorithmic
formula. The three elements operate in different combinations, for instance a secure
protocol can also compress data.

Telegraphic communications offered international message delivery through the protocol of

Morse code. Cost was charged per word7 which meant that messages tended to be short
and highly priced. However the time and distance changes were startling, a message from
the East African coast in the late 19th century could typically arrive in Britain between 10
minutes and an hour after transmission8. With human transmission of messages, skilled
operators could sustain a data transfer rate of around 370 characters (75 words) per
minute. However, improvements in hardware cable technology and transmission
techniques allowed duplex (two-way) and multiplex connections which made more efficient
use of the potential bandwith. As early as 1905, a Time Division Multiplexed 9 telegraph
service was introduced in Britain which could operate a maximum of six full-duplex
telegraph connections over a single wire10. Data transfer increased to 1900 characters (380
words) per minute with improved cable technology and the advent of teletype machines.

Encryption and data compression were simultaneous. In 1902 the operators of the Eastern
and Southern African Telegraph published Via Eastern Telegraph Social Code and among
other examples of the genre it offered shorthand ‘ encryption’ for long distance telegrams.
Headrick calculates that a ‘ code word replaced an average of 5.95 plain words and in one
commercial code, each code word did the work of 27.93 plain words’ , while Whitelaw’ s
Telegraphic Cypher, published in 1903, consisted of, ’ 20,000 five-letter words that could be
joined to form 400 million ten-letter combinations admissible in electronic telegraphy’ 11. At
the same time, technical improvements in signal transmission increased the capacity of the
cable as a carrier medium. By 1930 a public telegraph facsimile12 (fax) service was
operating from Britain and pictures could be ‘ wired’ . The telegraph had mastered the

Edis EA and Varall JE (1995) Newnes Telecommunications Handbook Newnes, London p242
standardised as a maximum of ten characters (Headrick 1991:45)
Headrick 1991:33, ibid:200
messages sent in parts and simultaneously according to free spaces in the stream of data
van Duuren J, Kastelein P and Schoute FC (1996) Fixed and mobile telecommunications: Networks, services
and systems Addison Wesley, Harlow, UK p141
Headrick 1991:45-46
Lewis LV (1935) Picture telegraphy Post Office Green Paper No.17, GPO, London p5
efficient negotiation of distance. The telephone would complement and supplement its

Information imbalances
Exchanges of telegrams between the Colonial Office and distant officers increased
massively in the years 1880 to 1900. Total telegrams received by the colonial office in 1880
numbered 2,800, in 1890 this had jumped to 3,800 but by 1900, 10,000 telegrams were
received each year1. There was an explosion in the amount of data that had to be sorted
and analysed and, ‘ The great dividing point was the telegraph. By this medium information
was transmitted piecemeal; abstractions from reality arrived and departed quickly,
irregularly and unpredictably...Not regularity but jerkiness came to characterise the process
of Imperial decision making’ 2. Virtual control from London could never take place in a
routine manner until there was coexistence and compatibility between means of
communication at all levels. Time-space edges remained.

The military campaigns had tested precedents but East Africa remained differently paced
within the empire. Before the arrival of the telegraph, dispatches had taken three weeks to
be delivered to London and so a reply would arrive a minimum of six to seven weeks after
the initial effort. Official communications with the Foreign Office assumed the pattern of
messages by telegram followed by explanatory documentation by sea, on account of the
high cost per message.3 These discrepancies were repeated at the social and geographical
edges between different means of communication. At first this was at the regional level in
the period of expansion from the coast. Later larger numbers of more widely dispersed
District Officers and ultimately African Assistants took over the management of local judicial
and revenue structures. These operated in the different time-spaced edges between rural
life and the wider administration of empire. The new pace of telegraphic communication
helped initiate Kampala’ s first modern currency crisis:

‘ There is now a telegraph which makes known within an hour important events in
Europe, whereas it used to take two months to send a message by special runner to
the coast to be cabled to England. The news of the death of Queen Victoria reached
Uganda soon after it was announced in London. The effect of the news on the natives
was strange; within an hour after it had reached the country, the announcement was
made in the market place, where a brisk trade was being carried on, and the value of
British coinage, rupees and pice, dropped to nil; rupees were immediately sold for two
or three cowry-shells, the regular value being a thousand cowry-shells for a rupee. It
required some explanation to enable the people to understand that there was no
depreciation of coinage through the death of European sovereign. They had been
accustomed to think that everything changed when the king died, and that even all
reforms might change or end with the king, and lawlessness reign, until the new king
acceded and began a new order.’ 4

Not only had the monarch died but also the currency that bore her image. With such timely
information who would run the risk of dead money? History had shown a different lesson to
the Baganda but this was the immediate, the new information order.

Gann LH and Duignan P (1978) The rulers of British Africa 1870-1914 Croom Helm, London p57
John Cell quoted in Headrick 1991:67
Mungeam 1966:19
Roscoe J (1921) 25 years in East Africa Cambridge University Press, UK p76
Roscoe’ s anecdote of the death of Queen Victoria conveyed difference. Both parties
recognised a significance and authority of the telegraph message and delivery of
information through imperial channels. Both reacted differently to the news. To Roscoe it
meant that the Queen was dead but customarily this would have been suffixed by ‘ God
save the King!’ . The only reported fact that those in the market heard, was that the British
monarch was dead. There were two points of variance. Market traders and others present
misunderstood the basis of the currency they dealt with on a daily basis and that some
survived by. The British had never explained this fully, they had with-held information. The
second point is that those in the market place were ignorant of the tradition, place and
recent news of the British monarchy. Again there was an information gap. This was
followed by rumour, and quite literally, speculation. The British imperial system comprised
communications order, currency and monarchy. They validated each other but had been
simultaneously jolted by the maintenance of an information hierarchy and shallow inter-
cultural understanding.

The advent of electronic means of communication introduced new relationships of

literacies, beyond language, defined by the telegraph as a technology that could negotiate
communication over a great distance and in a short time. Human contact for Africans was
local, rural and personal while the operation of British power was international, imperial,
institutional and highly technologised. The British acted both by remote orders and at the
same time, in response to local stimuli. Aggressive conquest was supplanted by an electric
system that linked existing power structures and the colonial administration provided the
interface between the two cultural and economic frontiers of contact. This modern system
had procedures to process, store and relay information through both electronic and
traditional media.

The negotiation of East African communications

Following the consolidation of military and strategic control in 1902, the idea for the
creation of an integrated East African administration was floated. These tentative moves to
join Uganda and Kenya under the rule of Zanzibar failed. A core reason for this was the
lack of a communication infrastructure, notably the limited telegraph network. A line had
just reached Kampala but such an essential component of high level regional control was
not properly established. At the same time as the decision was taken, other technologies
that were new to the region were being deployed. Most important amongst these were the
network of railways and lake steamers, the telephone and the wireless transceiver. These
heralded speedier transport of goods and mail, personal voice communication and radio
telegraphy respectively. They were communication complements or substitutes for the
existing telegraph system but were not adopted wholesale and on a regional basis. This
was primarily due to the net costs of deployment and the financial constraint of a continuing
state subsidy to Eastern Telegraph for its imperial networks.

The nature of the East African telegraph – long distance, high cost text messages – made
African use of the system difficult. It co-ordinated processes of migration and distanciation,
very apparent in wartime recruitment and deployment of troops, but remained exclusive.
For Africans represented a huge cultural break from oral traditions that valued greetings

and the context of a message.5 Until 1919 the primary African experience of the telegraph
was as additional labour for the construction of the railways. They were coerced into ‘ social
labour’ projects and into wage labour in order to pay rent and the native hut taxes.6 This
same trend of proletarianisation also opened up economic opportunities and, with growing
participation in the modern economy, there were opportunities to interface with the new

Technological transition and the Great War

The telegraph had allowed an instantaneous global information potential and possessed a
symbolic importance through its rarity, reliability and directness. With regional integration,
uniform colonial communication infrastructures allowed wider and more focused
information exchange over distance. Telephone and radio communications were
incorporated very slowly by the separate colonial telecommunications authorities and they
complemented rather than superseded the telegraph. They offered a wider portfolio of
communications options for different circumstances. The heavy investment in the rail and
telegraph systems, security concerns and the threat of technical and organisational
upheaval influenced these gradualist policies.

The railways had been at the vanguard of industrialisation in Britain. The slowing down of
railway construction there pointed to an overcapacity in production for the home market
and there was a need for new outlets. Subsidy aided both domestic producers and the
imperial communications project. In East Africa the newly built railways secured viable
settlement and the exploitation of the protectorate’ s agricultural and mineral potential.
These practical advantages were more strongly influenced by the ideology of progress and
civilisation dependent on both the telegraph and rail networks that Rhodes had envisaged.
The Uganda Railway offered massive transport capacity for goods, people and mail. They
carried the components for the assembly of lake steamers in Lake Victoria and the
combined rail and ship link offered a total journey time from Mombasa to Entebbe of 5 days
compared with the arduous three week journey by caravan. The quick and reliable mail
service it provided substituted some of the telegraph’ s functions and its impact was
greatest in Uganda. The runner system was now limited to internal communications but
most importantly the country was opened up.

The territories of East Africa were linked into British and German economic patterns before
they were formally conquered. The two forces were increased pressures to trade according
to European domestic demand and through moral pressures against slavery. Livingstone’ s
hope for a replacement of slaving by the alternative economies of modernisation was
fulfilled as demands to make the colonies pay for themselves together with pressures for
military strategic control encouraged state investment in railways and telecommunications.
Parallel changes to economies incorporating export commodity production and
monetisation of the regional economies, through hut taxes, indentured labour and new
Workman gives a jaded view of African communication. ‘ Natives conversing in the presence of even a man
who has carefully studied their language can usually, if they so wish, prevent his following other than perhaps
the general trend of the conversation: this they do by using local idioms and metaphors that will entirely defeat
the non-African.’ These represent a rich seem of data compression and encryption lost on a colonial
postmaster. Workman A (1937) The reminiscences of a colonial Postmaster-General Wyvern Press, London
See for example Bernstein H (1977) ‘Notes on capital and peasantry’ in Review of African Political Economy
Vol. 10 pp60-73; Kitching GN (1980) Class and economic change in Kenya Yale University Press, New Haven
regimes of property and land rights, saw new relations of production and accumulation
spread. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, slaves had been freed and were slowly
incorporated into wage labour economies. Coastal economies shifted towards the
production of spices1 and the facilitated the trade with the empire and the world2.

The spaces of the interior were shattered. New communications routes ran direct and
through the temperate Kikuyu highlands, crossing the taboo border between Busoga and
Buganda where Archbishop Hannington had attempted to pass and been killed, then
towards the new Ugandan capital, Kampala. Trading routes were bypassed and tribal
allegiances which had ensured the durée of economic exchanges, patterns of
intercommunication and the long distance relationships with the coast and beyond were
first destroyed, then redefined by the British and Germans. The infrastructures of
colonialism spread the influence of economic possibility and the laws and rules of political
domination. Missionary influence in larger policy was drowned but the process of
conversion to Christianity and the didactic agenda of civilisation continued.

Regional integration was finally achieved in 1926 with Kenya, Uganda, Zanzibar and
Tanganyika united under a central British administration. This followed the German defeat
in the First World War. A key component of their loss of the Tanganyika Protectorate had
its roots in telecommunications infrastructure. The German administration relied on Britain
for all but one of their land-lines and operated four radio facilities at Mwanza, Bukoba,
Tabora and Dar es Salaam. The telegraph lines ran through Zanzibar, Northern Rhodesia
and Uganda and were cut at the declaration of war. The Dar es Salaam radio station was
destroyed by Royal Navy bombardment four days later and the Tabora installation was
destroyed by the end of the year.3 Meanwhile the British were able to intercept German
radio messages in a way that was not possible with cable transmissions. Again, they used
distant resources for the decryption process. The messages were telegraphed via
Zanzibar, Aden and Bombay where the code was broken down by Indian Army experts in
Simla. The cryptographic production line stretched cross the empire and lived by Morse.

The German defeat in 1919 led to the mandating of Tanganyika to British control by the
League of Nations and the new administration purchased the rail and telegraph
infrastructure which had remained sound. The radio network in Tanganyika had been
virtually destroyed but now at least one radiotelegraphic relay was assured for each
colonial centre as back-up for the telegraph. By 1923 there was an uninterrupted
telecommunications infrastructure from the Cape to Cairo and linked by Morse code, with
the telegraph and the radio as its backbone. This allowed full, live, regional
intercommunication within the same time frame offering an integrated colonial mode of
information. Nodes within Africa had continuous contact with colonial hubs and a Pan-
African information infrastructure was achieved.

Private communications were providing new information rôles. The telephone promised
personal security for settlers and both code and voice provided channels for commerce.

Cooper 1992:214-215
Ibid. 216-230, Sheriff 1987:245-248
Matson AT (1971a) Wireless interception on Lake Victoria, 1914-1916 Uganda Journal Vol. 35 No.1 pp43-48,
this information p44
Communications patterning was very clearly interlinked with settlement patterns.
Europeans set up their communities close to the railway and telegraph and the successes
of consequent means of communication were dependent on their allocative resources. The
East African corridor, from the coast to the Rwenzori mountains was wired, railed and
permanent roads began to interconnect the ‘ region within a region’ . Those within the
corridor had more contact with these forms of communication. In the articulation of these
changes, institutions and actors closest to important information transactions gained
different communication skills. All the while, direct access was not possible for the largest
part of the population.

The telephone arrived in East Africa at the turn of the century. It ran on the same copper
lines as the telegraph and the only physical modification to be made for its use was a
change of circuit at the end of each line. It complemented the secure and encrypted official
exchange of information through the telegraph by introducing the certainty of voice
communications. It was however very expensive to phone either internationally or
regionally as it substituted lucrative telegram traffic, both inbound and outbound. Regional
telephone lines were eventually laid to separate traffic but there was no contemporary
substitute for the reliability, speed of data transfer and security of coded telegraph
messaging. No trunk telephone calls were possible commercially except to a few important
points such as from the colonial centres; Nairobi, Zanzibar, Mombasa and
Kampala/Entebbe. Public telephone calls could only be made from Post Offices in or near
to these urban areas4.

The first cabling of Africa had brought the telegraph. Technological change in the
communications sector was primarily a tool of military and diplomatic consolidation. In East
Africa the technologies arrived in a different sequence to Europe, the USA and South
Africa. The position of the telegraph was therefore fixed before other means arrived and its
decline was gradual. It led to the development of the point to point delivery system of the
telex and yet became too expensive in comparison to international direct dialled telephone
calls. The Eastern Telegraph company was nationalised as Cable and Wireless by the
British government in 1929. The change in means of communication was marked by the
change in the corporation’ s name.

Nation and cultures of resistance

The other consequence of the war was the incorporation of Tanganyika with the British
territories of Zanzibar, Uganda and Kenya. Swahili therefore became more relevant as a
lingua franca in conjunction with English and the region acquired more significant territorial
integrity as well as comprising an identifiable political unit. The idea of an integrated British
East Africa became a conceivable target and was achieved before the second World War.
The Tanganyikan economy and communications links were subsumed into this larger
colonial unit. German influence was effectively ended.

Hilferding’ s account of the spread of ‘ national’ consciousness and of the ‘ negation of the
negation’ of the colonial ideal is a highly appropriate model for East Africa. An account of
Workman 1937:56
cultural responses, resistance and incorporation of some of the ideas of the colonialists
involved the digestion of the universals of their civilising project. African contact with the
technological, hierarchical and ethnocentric cultures of imperialism had brought two initial
reactions. First was ‘ resistance by traditional rulers against excesses of new regimes of
control’ 5 in rural areas and timespaces. Second was from those closest to the beach-head
of modernism on the Swahili coast: incorporated Africans and rescued slaves.

They constituted two periods in interaction and response between Africans and Europeans.
Boahen described the period 1890-1919 as the first phase of colonisation, characterised by
a succession of rebellions: The 1905 Maji Maji uprising in Tanzania against the Germans,
and successive uprisings against the British: the 1911 Kamba revolt in Kenya, in 1913 the
Mumbo cult in Kenya, 1914 the Giriama of Kenya, and in 1911 – disturbances amongst the
Acholi in Uganda. All these were reactions to excesses of European demands for land,
money and labour. The common factor is not only emphasised by the type of ruler but that
they represented spreading frontiers of direct colonial rule moving from the coast to the
interior of the Protectorates. They were rural areas that resisted the demands of European
rule. Their pacification and the destruction of their military capability allowed the extension
of wider processes of modernisation and the channels for the spread of global influences.

Boahen placed the second phase of the colonial era from 1919 to 1935 and described
African resistance as an ‘ intensification and a more sophisticated application of the old
strategies.’ 6 This included organised resistance through dance societies but his account
conflicts both chronologically and in emphasis with the Beni dance societies described by
Ogot and Ranger7. East African culture was reflected in structures of imperialism. Dance
societies were ‘ deeply rooted in pre-colonial dance and competitive modes’ and their
themes originated and were strongest in, the ‘ freed slave’ settlements run by missionary
societies on the Swahili coast of Tanganyika, Zanzibar and Kenya. The Beni dancers,
‘ copied European military and ceremonial uniforms; took pride in their skill at drill; and often
put on lavish displays of loyalty to the British Crown’ .8 The form directly mimicked and
parodied colonial masters and embodied it in a dance culture that lasted from the 1880s,
the start of European colonial penetration, to the 1960s, the end of decolonisation. Ranger
writes that it, ‘ expressed at various times and places the aspiration of the young Swahili
freemen who wanted to take the lead in modernisation; of the young men in the
countryside who wanted to be given the respect due to their experience in migrant labour
or at the battle-front’ .9

The spread of Beni culture revealed patterns of cultural spread through East Africa and its
people. It did not ‘ arrive from the sky’ as radio and television based culture enters the home
and community. Ranger sums up this relatively even spread of culture through diverse
livelihood and customary zones thus:

Boahen AA (1987) African perspectives on colonialism Johns Hopkins University Press, London
Boahen 1987:75
Ranger TO (1975) Dance and society in eastern Africa 1890-1970: The Beni Ngoma; Ogot BA (1974) Zamani
East African Publishing House, Nairobi
Ranger 1975:1-17
‘ Under colonialism these very different systems were lumped together by the common
predicament of colonial rule, and communication between them was increased through
the flow of migrant labour to the coast or to the south and the flow of African
administrative, proselytising, and entrepreneurial talents to the interior.
Communications by road and rail and a patch-work system of western education also
aided a more even flow of people and ideas. But it was by no means the intention of
the colonialists to produce homogenous colonial societies: ‘ traditional’ unevenness was
valued because it allowed for divide and rule or produced localised focus for protest
which was easy to deal with.’ 1

Ngugi wa Thiong’ o underlines the resistance inherent in dance. Harry Thuku’ s

confrontation with colonial authorities shown below, was celebrated in dance. According to

‘ One of the songs was called …I t was sung and danced by women and it
became so powerful a statement of protest that it was banned by the colonial
authorities. There was another called . Again, a powerful combination of
song, poetry and dance, mostly by young men. This became very popular particularly in
central Kenya. It was also banned’ .2

Ranger and Ngugi described not so much the frontiers but McLuhan’ s ‘ backtiers’ or the
psychological front regions and back regions of Giddens formulation of modernisation.3
Beni and dance associations were the carriers of transformed yet essentially homogenous
cultural messages. It equated to a process working from the bottom up, from the base to
the superstructure, from the grassroots, the spread of a new hegemony. These relatively
peaceful and subtle responses to change revealed longer and more gradual reflexive
cultural negotiation with the influence of the modern and were in contrast to the armed
resistance of ‘ traditional rulers’ . However, confronted by the sharp end of territorial
acquisition, incorporation through taxation and forced labour of colonial rule, there were
stronger cultural patterns at the centre of antagonism. The dances of  and
  offered immediate, ‘ strong, colourful and erotic images’ 4
in the form of hot
cultural currents of resistance.

Physical resistance and modern knowledge

There was a large influx of settlers to Kenya followed the end of the Great War and this
was felt especially in Kikuyu areas – the temperate, soon ‘ white’ , highlands. The local
population had a greater experience of Europeans than the new arrivals did of Africans.
They were denied channels of dialogue in the absence of any democracy, because of the
prioritisation of settling British immigrants and in the mode of administration that operated
on paper records and written correspondence. Matthew Njoroge, the first secretary of the
Kikuyu Association, described a incident in 1919 where the British colonial government
allotted a portion of his family land to a former army Captain. ‘ Stephen, my brother…o ne of
the first Africans to read English was working with Canon Leakey...he asked [him] to write
a letter from us to the Government saying that 240 acres of our land had been taken in
1908 and now the Government was taking some more and we had nowhere to go. The

Ngugi T (1993) Moving the centre: The struggle for cultural freedoms East African Educational Publishers,
Nairobi pp88-89
Giddens A (1991) Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age Polity, Cambridge pp20-
Ngugi 1993:89
letter was written, and Stephen and I signed it…a nd it was sent to the government. They
listened and the land was not taken and we all thought the power of this letter a most
wonderful thing.’ 1

The spread of literacy was far more than an understanding of the shapes and characters of
written text and script. It was levelling, creating a changed arena of expression yet was
more powerful because of its tacit acknowledgement of European means of
communication. In 1919 the Postmaster-General of the East African Protectorate had
inaugurated systems of training local telegraphic operators. The students surpassed the
expectations of instructors, which led the Inspector of Telegraphs to report that, ‘ The
efficiency of fully trained native telegraphists, as purely manipulative operators, is quite
equal to that of Europeans and certainly far superior to that of the Asiatics previously
employed in this country’ 2. Africans had been incorporated as skilled labourers in a new
means of communication succeeding European then Asian workers in an established racial
hierarchy. Following both their examples they founded local trades unions. Many had also
been involved in the 1915-1918 East African campaign and greater political consciousness
and orientation to modern methods of production, communications and conflict was a result
of both.

The growth of Asian communities was integral to the building of the railways and they were
succeeded by waves of increasingly higher status more higher capitalised immigrants.
Similarly ruled by the British, and with a more common use of (subsidised) telegraphs in
the Indian empire, electronic means of communication were familiar. In the commercial
field, wholesale purchasing and ordering became plausible within an accessible network of
retail outlets that catered for immigrant Asians, Europeans and Africans too. This
constituted one layer of communications but remittances, investments and receipts
provided a supplementary layer in parallel to these transactions. They could be transported
separate of people and goods. The postal system handled ‘ many hundreds of thousand of
rupees...remitted monthly by Indians in East Africa’ 3 but in 1921, cabled transfers of money
and funds were made possible through a dedicated link between Zanzibar and India.4 In
Uganda, demobilised Indian soldiers, railway workers and new immigrants also took to
trading and became significant in the commodity trade.5 This was notable in the in locally
controlled and produced cotton which had been priced through the telegraph regularly
since 1905.6

In these ways specialisations within the use, carriage and deployment of information
through the telegraph had developed in line with the expectations and social restrictions of
the colonial power. African agency was restricted to within the physical mechanisms of data
transfer yet they had excelled at the tasks they were set. Asian users adjusted to
controlling transfers over new commercial and financial space while Europeans depended
on the agency of both of these groups and retained ideological and structural controls over
land and government. These developments had led to new regional understandings of
Boahen p42
quoted in Mungeam 1978:294
Workman 1937:28
See Colonial Office document PRO CO618/11 (1921)
Thomas and Scott 1935:344-7
Colonial Office documents PRO CO536/2 1905
Figure AG communication horizons and there were soon
political consequences.
The Kikuyu Association
East Africa replies to Westminster
13th July 1921
Material issues were at the heart of social
To: Prime Minister London unrest at the start of the 1920s and the loci of
Chapelries London
these disturbances were around Nairobi. The
India Office London
Lord Islington Lords city had gained in importance as a point of
Wedgewood Commons communication, for mail, telegraph and
Jeevanjee London
railway and also because of its geopolitical
Native Mass Meeting held Sunday location at the focus of the territories of the
10th July over two thousand ‘ White Highlands’ . By this time the importance
natives present declared Indian of the telegraph as the primary means of
presence not prejudicial Natives
advancement as alleged Convention international communications had been
of Associations -stop- Next to reduced by a more efficient mail system
Missionaries Indians our best based on the railway and ever faster
friends demanded repeal Natives
Registration Ordinance compulsory steamships. It still held an important
taking of girls married women for commercial and diplomatic role but had also
plantation work culminating into become symbolic of transfers of power. In
immoral practice also increase hut
poll tax -stop- Humble request 1921 and 1922 ‘ native gatherings’ had
apply native revenue for solely resolved and transmitted demands through
Native benefits specially the telegraph, displayed in Figure AG. Harry
education open schools important
centres -stop- Condemned European Thuku and Rashid bin Sood had turned the
settlers movement cutting down our ‘ invisible weapon’ on its owners.
already low wages -stop- Give
franchise all educated British
The dialogue over power now included an
extra means of communication as a strategy
Mungeam 1978:203 of resistance. The protest groups had spread
their grievances internationally and this was
the start of series of confrontations with the
colonial order. Intercommunication with
Negroes in the United States and an
acceptance of the ideal of progress were spelt
The Coast Arab Association: out in the telegram sent by the Jamaican Pan-
To: The Honourable Colonial Africanist, Marcus Garvey to Lloyd George. It
Secretary protested against the indiscriminate shooting
January 28th 1922
at crowds gathering in a vigil after the
detention of Harry Thuku, author of the
Representative mass meeting Arabs Kikuyu Association telegram. On behalf of
and natives held under auspices of
‘ four hundred million Negroes through the
Coast Arab Association yesterday,
unanimously resolved request Universal Negro Improvement Association...’
Government grant them two seats he decried ‘ ...the brutal manner in which your
Executive and four seats
government has treated the natives of Kenya
legislative Council as interim

Rashid Bin Sood,

Chairman of the meeting
East Africa.’ He gave a warning that Negroes would someday fight back with the ‘ modern
implements of science’ .1

Protest was not only restricted to Nairobi and was indeed regional. Migration had ensured
strong economic bonds between Zanzibar, Tanganyika, Uganda and Kenya. The Young
Baganda Association was inspired by local circumstances but communicated with the
Kikuyu Association. Thuku wrote in 1921, that he could ‘ recognise no difference between
the natives of Kenya and Uganda’ .2 Clearly, new colonial communications structures
represented a mode of domination but at the same time they could be used as channels of
resistance. Similar movements of ‘ tribal associations with latent if not manifest political
objectives’ 3 spread and networks were born4 while objectives began to focus on
independence and nationhood. The resistance was concentrated near the principal imperial
nodes of communication and production where the influence and pains of modern and
imperial processes were most concentrated. The leaders that would take charge after
independence were part of these movements and from these metropoles. They had
become fully versed in the importance of arteries of modernisation and lived off the same
promises of change that were the mantra of progress.

The development of East African cultural reflection and political reaction reflects changes in
social reproduction influenced by the incorporation of heterogenous elements into colonial
systems that thrived on global interconnection. Through forces of violence, land acquisition,
monetisation and commodity economies new circuits and junctions of exchange were
implemented by an increasing dominance of traders, adventurers, diplomats then soldiers
and settlers. The British and Germans marshalled imported ideas, commodities and
disease and changed the fabric of local livelihood strategies, cultural transmission, and
political rights.

Communications technology had been a dividing point where international reach was
bound up with a colonial current of change. Telegraph traffic carried orders – the wish lists
of the colonial office, the shopping lists of the settlers and the ‘ standing orders’ of financial
exchange. They were alien to local people and local élite’ s and represented remote control
and instant reaction. The cabling of East Africa was a state project forced by security and
underlined by the desire for profitable trading that expanded access points and nodes. The
expansion of frontiers of colonialism and the gradual deepening of local experience
developed local entry points – physical access to telecommunications, technical and
linguistic familiarity. It was the convergence of financial, social and communication
systems that led Hilferding to observe the developing negation of control in 1910.
‘ Capitalism itself gradually provides the subjugated with the means and resources for their
emancipation and they set out to achieve the goal which once seemed highest to the European
nations: the creation of a united national state as a means to economic and cultural freedom.’

Drake S (1987) ‘Mbiyu Koinanage and the Pan African movement’ in Hill RA (1987)(Ed) Pan African
biography Crossroads Press, Los Angeles p163, My emphasis.
Thuku H (1970) Autobiography of Harry Thuku Cambridge University Press, UK p19
Hyden 1994:80
Although Nyerere and Obote were educated together at Makerere College, Kampala
Hyden sketches the processes that operated in Kenya and Tanzania, also related to the
Ugandan experience, of forming of this political and national consciousness. He shows that
its roots were in the contradictions of divide and rule policies, Lugard’ s Dual Mandate,
versus the operation of the colonial economy as an integrated system.

‘ Ethnicity became a principal force in Kenya and Tanzania in colonial days when the
European rulers brought the populations of these territories into the global economy
and forced people of different backgrounds to interact with each other. Africans,
perceiving the need to defend and promote their interest formed tribal associations with
latent if not manifest political objectives. As the demand and prospect for independence
grew stronger after 1945, nationalist organisations began to take the place of these
tribal associations. Africans realised they had a common enemy and that independence
would be easier to achieve if they were united.’ 5

The adoption of the paradigm of the nation state and national liberation seemed logical
following the examples of Latin America and India. Highly educated leaders took the reins
of resistance movements and set about the process of political change. The next series of
struggles followed the Second World War and gathered momentum towards the inevitable
achievement of national liberation and global presence. The rebellion of the periphery had
been formalised.

Edward Said underlines the transition in cultural terms. This would be carried forward into
the next era of development where national economic objectives defined a more sanguine
approach to the parameters of interconnection:

‘ Just as culture may predispose and actively prepare one society for the overseas
domination of another it may also prepare that society to relinquish or modify the idea
of overseas domination. These changes cannot occur without the willingness of men
and women to resist the pressures of colonial rule, to take up arms, to project ideas of
liberation, and to imagine (as Benedict Anderson has it) a new national community, to
take the final plunge. Nor can they occur unless either economic or political exhaustion
with empire sets in at home, unless the idea of empire and the cost of colonial rule are
challenged publicly, unless the representations of imperialism begin to lose their
justification and legitimacy, and, finally, unless the rebellious ‘ natives’ impress upon the
metropolitan culture the independence and integrity of their own culture, free from
colonial encroachment. But having noted all these pre-requisites we should
acknowledge that, at both ends of the redrawn map, opposition and resistance to
imperialism are articulated together on largely common although disputed terrain
provided by culture.’ 6

Hyden 1994:80
Said E (1993) Culture and Imperialism Chatto and Windus, London p.241
Chapter Three
From empires of control to networks for development

Between the end of the Great War and the beginning of the Cold War, imperialism declined
as an ideology in East Africa and its element of ‘ guided progress’ was incorporated into
Development. The telephone spread into western consciousness introducing concepts of
exchanges and trunks yet remained a rare item in Africa. The immediate post-war period
saw some of development delegated to institutions created by the Bretton Woods
conference and the independence of ‘ Non-Self-Governing Territories’ was accepted as an
objective. The blanket of modernisation theory underlined the inevitabilities of economic
development until the 1950s and 60s, when more oppositional theories and protectionism
came into coinage. Telecommunications had settled into domestic and commercial
services universal in industrialised countries but with a low density of spread and use in
East Africa, while the wireless innovations of satellite and microwave had helped colonise

The close financial, economic and communication bonds of colony and ex-colony endured
the backlash of nationalism and dependency theory while the economic decline of both was
traced through the 1970s and 80s. This co-existence remained until the economic
restructuring of the ‘ British model’ was replicated on a global scale and is still being
implemented in East Africa with the impetus of IMF structural adjustment programs. The
convergence of computers and telecommunications has run parallel with the
reconfiguration of the world economy and a further differentiation of the third world. Digital
telecommunications and packet data have divided the world by ‘ bandwidth’ while former
institutions and orthodoxies such as the state and ‘ development theory’ have been
reshaped and devalued by trends encapsulated by globalisation, post-structuralism and

Imperialism to Development
The interactions between colonisers and the colonised in the period 1880 to 1920 had
shown that the introduction of new technological, cultural and economic practices could
both destroy local ways of doing things yet be taken up by those most closely affected. The
telegrams of Harry Thuku and the Coastal Arab association had invaded colonial
communications links. Direct involvement had changed the perceptions and capacities of
international communications in conjunction with technological learning and global
contacts. Communications networks effected paths for radical networks and dissent,
mission schools enabled access to common qualifications and wage employment enabled
workplace organisation. The extension of these modern, monetised spaces of international
reach, incorporated larger numbers of increasingly experienced African participants into the
superstructure of imperial practice.

As in Non Government Organisation (NGO). Social sectors that have historically been driven without the
motivation to govern or the motivation for surplus. I include education and health as broadly within this category.
Figure BA1 Figure BA2
Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Reflection on the League of Nations
Nations mandate

To those colonies and territories which as a The fact that if native communities, in the words
consequence of the last war have ceased to be under of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of
the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed Nations dealing with mandates, are unable "to
them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able stand alone under the strenuous conditions of the
to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions modern world", implies that the native population
of the modern world, there should be applied the must be regarded as the "wards" of the trustee,
principle that the well-being and development of such and appropriate measures for the protection of
peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that their interests are required. It implies also that
securities for the performance of this trust should be their development should be designed to enable
embodied in this Covenant. them ultimately to stand by themselves, that least
as part of the whole community in the territory.
The best method of giving practical effect to this Success in this aim can largely be measured by
principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be the degree in which those responsible for
entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their government have been able to penetrate the
resources, their experience or their geographical native mind and to understand the intricate web
position can best undertake this responsibility, and of tribal life. Without this understanding it is
who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage impossible to achieve a real contact between
should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf ruler and ruled, and mutual misunderstandings
of the League. and suspicion can be the only result. With it, it
should be possible to build on existing tribal
The character of the mandate must differ according to institutions a structure comprehensible to the
the stage of the development of the people, the native mind and suited to his ability, which will
geographical situation of the territory, its economic lead the native through the necessary stages of
conditions and other similar circumstances.... development.

Other peoples, especially those of Central Africa, are

at such a stage that the Mandatory must be
responsible for the administration of the territory under
conditions which will guarantee freedom of conscience
and religion, subject only to the maintenance of public
order and morals, the prohibition of abuses such as
the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic,

These were unintended consequences of development. The spaces of native self-

determination were limited by policies that shaped a national – read colonial – emphasis on
infrastructures that led the way towards primarily commodity economies connected to the
imperial centre. Information and telecommunications were domains of the state, from
agricultural extension to export trading and telephones to telegrams. The trend that dictated
communications control and priorities was that of the state disseminating from the centre
through the links it governed. Infrastructure as a whole would remain the largest recipient of
development funding in East Africa and political control over development would not be
open to the participation of natives. Until independence in the early 1960s, the region was
governed by a British hegemony while the ideology of development was defined by four
strong forces. First was the international community, next the interaction between
Conservative and Labour groupings in Britain, third the Europeans settled in the region and
lastly, feedback from the locals and their representatives.

Colonial development policy – mandate and infrastructure
The colonial administration in the 1920s was in an international climate of shifting moral
imperatives, a local situation of organised resistance amongst natives deprived of political
rights, and represented a settler community bounded by the Uganda Railway. The
mandating of Tanganyika to the British by the League of Nations marked one end of a
process of social change in East Africa. The period showed a shift towards on official policy
of development where development programmes and grants were discussed at the
Imperial Economic Conference of 1923 and financial provisions made in the Trade
Facilities Act of 1924. The processes were cemented in the Colonial Development Act of
1929 and the Colonial Development and Welfare Acts of 1940 and 1945.

The League of Nations covenant, shown in figure BA1, introduced trusteeship and tutelage
as internationally enforceable components of the administration of Tanganyika. This
international ‘ contract’ led to a more searching analysis of the position of Britain and its
conduct of colonial administration. The report of the Joint Committee of the House of
Commons and the House of Lords on the question of closer union between Kenya,
Tanganyika, Uganda and Zanzibar reflected on the implications as shown in Figure BA2.

A cultural obligation to compromise and address local sensitivities had to coexist with an
official line influenced by the economic interests of empire and settlers. The gap of the ‘ dual
mandate’ had been addressed by the introduction of elements of social development. The
agency of the native had been weighted into the empire-colony matrix as part of
development – actively civilising the population rather than treating them an economic
adjunct. The Imperial centre mobilised some of its resources and knowledge to be
transplanted to the colonies. Sir Charles Jeffries, in the Colonial Office at that time, noted
this process and also indicated the contributions of mission and non-government sources
of development activity. He wrote that from 1924, ‘ a great deal of effective action was
taken to provide the Colonial territories with carefully selected and highly trained
administrative, professional and technical staffs, backed and guided by central advisory
services with access to the leading authorities in this country on health, education,
agriculture and other subjects. It is only right to acknowledge that much of this
development, especially in the fields of education and medicine was made possible by the
benefactions from American charitable organisations’ 1 Already a complex network of formal
and informal institutions were crafting a technical and humanitarian development strategy
that would coincide with the strong emphasis on laying down economic infrastructure.

The priority and funding of interconnection

East African union was proposed and investigated between 1924 and 1927 but met strong
political opposition based on the different political and historic traditions and priorities of the
four British colonies. However, shared infrastructures of trade and communications were
agreed. Lord Delamere stated in 1923 that ‘ the policy of His Majesty’ s Government in that
region...has always been to try, by linking up the customs, railways, telegraphs and post
offices of those different territories, ultimately to bring them together in some form of
federation.’ 1 Delamere – investor, settler, developer – saw that the rationalisation and

Jeffries Sir C (1960) Transfer of power Pall Mall Press, London p23-24
Hills 1976:439
configuration of infrastructure and intercommunication would be the basis of an East
African integration. Administration and territorial consolidation would follow on from joining
the ‘ main lines’ between places. These priorities were influenced by the centrality of the
railway in the lives of settlers and in the economic development objectives of export
commodity production. Simultaneously there was a need for colonial development funds2 to
effect economic benefits for Britain.

There are two interpretations of this type of investment. First it closely matches what would
now be called bilateral or ‘ tied’ aid, where funds are given to install equipment supplied by
the donor country. Secondly it was classical imperialism, as outlined by Lenin, where the
colonial power was creating markets for home production for the benefit of the bourgeoisie.
The rhetoric of the Secretary of State, L.T.S Amery, in pursuing the East African Loans Act
of 1926, clearly crossed boundaries in order for the Treasury to give its assent. He said, ‘ I
am afraid the Treasury has never grasped the idea that it is more profitable to spend
money in keeping the industries in this country engaged in the production of rails, bridging
material and locomotives than in paying for doles or unproductive relief schemes, or that
the object of an Imperial guarantee should be to facilitate progress and not to find pretexts
for making all progress impossible’ . Under either definition, the four East African countries
would not see a large official programme of social development rather the continuance and
domination of command economies and a highly ordered administration. The Act spelt out
the massive investment in railways and communications and ‘ the only explicit limitation
resulted from a government pledge by Sir Oswald Mosley during the debate on the bill that
it would not be used to finance educational developments’ 3 A firm line had been drawn and
there would be few funds for social development.

Brett presents data on the costs of infrastructure and its overwhelming weighting towards
railways, ‘ The Kenya-Uganda Railways spent some £16.5 million on capital investments
between 1921 and 1933…B y 1932 Tanganyika’ s railway debt was £5.8 million out of a
total debt of £8.9 million, and repayments amounted to £310,000 per annum or more than
13% of the total expenditure of administration and railway combined. These costs can be
compared with expenditures in Kenya in 1934 of £170,000 on education, £125,000 on
agriculture and £198,000 on medical services; and with £81,000 on education, £105,000
on agriculture and veterinary services and £194,000 on medical services in Tanganyika in
1935.’ 4 This underlines the common orientation of the different administrations in the
period in the inter-war period. Development meant an overriding emphasis on the railway,
trade and exports of commodities.

Reach: telecommunication and wireless

Communications arteries of East Africa drained regional development funds in order to
carry away the agricultural surplus of the region while the balances of interconnection,
social welfare and political representation were weak1. Brett notes that a failure to invest in

A precursor of aid
Constantine S (1984) The making of British colonial development policy 1914-1940 Frank Cass, London p241
Brett E.A. (1973) Colonialism and underdevelopment in East Africa: The politics of economic change 1919-
1939 Heinemann, London quote p296-297
This is dealt with in a general sense by Walter Rodney, Rodney W (1972) How Europe underdeveloped Africa
Zimbabwe Publishing House, Harare pp228-229
roads, ‘ meant that development had to be concentrated into a limited number of regions’ 2
while telecommunications emphasised this concentration. The 1929 ‘ Report on eastern and
southern Africa’ recommended that the, ‘ system of postal and telegraphic communications
ought in its framework to correspond fairly closely to that of transport communications, for
the latter affect the main lines for the circulation of trade and general movement throughout
the territories much more than the colonial boundaries which have been imposed quite
arbitrarily on the whole area.’ 3

Telecommunications were integrating mechanisms that radiated from the centre and
colonial space was determined in practice by the strength of these links. Matson relates an
example of the edges of this space in Karamoja and outlines a proposal to deploy the new
technology of short wave radio. The Italians had operated a network of radio stations in
their overseas possessions since 1910 and ran 11 stations by 1924 while the Belgian
Congo was served by forty-two stations4. The Karamoja region of Uganda was designated
suitable for the development of cotton production yet serious ethnic power struggles
erupted in 1923. Sir Geoffrey Archer5, Governor of Uganda, ‘ decided against continuing an
energetic administrative policy in this remote and badly serviced area…r ecommending the
inauguration of a wireless service’ 6 This was consistent with the practice of deploying
electronic communications to further security, military co-ordination and the consolidation of
territory. There was a similar request for a wireless network in Northern Kenya, another
region of nomadic/pastoral production and conflict in 1921. In support, the East Africa
Commission noted that, ‘ the development of wireless communications in East Africa is of
great importance and would be of great value to the administration and to the development
of the country, and in our opinion it would be far cheaper than the extension of the existing
system of ordinary telegraphic wires’ 7. While according to the later report it saw that the,
‘ air knows no frontiers, and this service, of such special moment to territories in which other
means of communication are few, ought not to be allowed to be delayed or made costly by
lack of co-operation.’ 8 The decision to shelve the plans was made by both Uganda and
Kenya and neither W.F.Gowers, the incoming Governor of Uganda, nor the Kenyan
Government would, ‘ allocate loan funds and budget for recurrent expenditure on wireless
communications to the detriment of other development projects’ 9. Meanwhile another
wireless network was proposed to cover Tanganyika and was actually installed in 1937. It
was prompted by the descent into World War, ‘ as wireless was considered imperative for
the containing of any uprising’ 10, presumably by an alliance of residual Germans and co-
opted Africans.

Telecommunications had shifted from the immediate priorities of colonial administration in

Kampala and Nairobi. The authorities had decided to ‘ make do’ with increasingly
unreliable11 cable connections and recurrent development space rather than consolidate
the entire territory by upgrading communications technology. Wireless communications
Brett 1973:297
Great Britain, 1931:130
Matson 1971b:54
Not a relative
Matson AT 1971b:50
Great Britain (1925) Report of the East Africa Commission Cmd. 2337, UK p126-127
Great Britain 1931:130-131
Matson 1971b:52
Clayton A and Killingray Khaki and Blue p251
were less permanent than cable and offered greater spatial flexibility yet they were a threat
to the position of cable and the narrow development budget. Systems of colonial funding
constrained the extension of communications space and these decisions were made by
Kenyan and Ugandan authorities and administrators. The pattern of investment in
communications infrastructures had followed the lines of the railways and of European
settlers who did not stray far from the lines.

Dissent and social development

Colonial authorities could have implemented local government and some form of
representation in the period – the idea was seen as a distinct possibility in the discussions
of East African union. However this large step was not taken and points to the essential
weakness of the colonial project – Europeans were not widely dispersed and power
remained closest to them and their interests. This realisation went some way towards the
fixing of asymmetries between empire and colony and revealed the limitations of the will to
develop in the widest sense. Similarly technological developments in Britain – the
telephone, the car and the road – were not paralleled by local installation and were even
constructed at the expense of colonial development.12 The growing influence of socialists in
the formulation of policy directions would however push forward an agenda far beyond that
imagined by the bulk of settlers.

Geographical as well as racial dualisms centralised economic and social modernisation

programmes around commercial agriculture, urban settlements, the highlands and the
coast. The colonial administration did not engage with the spatial inequalities that they had
made concrete and the skewed political, economic and political development of the centre
– extending from the Indian Ocean coast, through Nairobi and the highlands to Kampala
and Lake Victoria. These policies and this geography gave the Baganda and the Kikuyu a
leading position assured by their acceptance and uptake of modern practices13. Both had
formalised land ownership arrangements, possessed developing political organisation and
stood to gain from the modern resources of the centre. The exception was in the mandate
of Tanganyika where the population was not as assertive and ‘ Tanganyika Africans would
never, throughout the inter-war period, make demands for political emancipation’ 14
However there was a level of dissent and Ingham observed that in 1922, ‘ Dar es Salaam
Indians closed their shops to protest the arrest of Gandhi’ 15 This goes some way to proving
that there was in both senses a demonstration effect. Contact with dissidence, and with the

Hills 1976:422-423 reported that Lieutenant-Colonel F.D.Hammond, chair of the Inter-Colonial Railway
Council, had calculated interruptions to the telegraph service in the early 1920s. 'The total duration of
interruptions on the through telegraph line between Nairobi and Kilindi amounted to thirty-three days out of 181
days [18%]. During the same period the telegraph between Nairobi and Kisumu failed to function on twenty-five
days [14%].'
In the words of a Treasury commissioner in 1929, ‘ Already the perpetual drain involved in the supply of
capital for telephones, for local municipalities, for the unemployment fund and for other purposes goes far to
neutralise the effect of the sinking fund and is perpetually defeating the hoped for improvement in global credit.
Great new commitments for Colonial development must be looked upon therefore with the utmost caution’
quoted in Constantine1984:178
See for instance Kanyinga K (1995) ‘The politics of development space in Kenya: State and voluntary
services in the delivery of basic services’ in Semboja J and Therkildsen O (1995) (eds) Service provision under
stress in East Africa’ Fountain Publishers, Kampala pp70-86, also Rodney 1972:137, 228
Austen R. A. (1967) ' The official mind of indirect rule: British policy in Tanganyika 1916-1939' in Gifford P and
Louis WMR (1967) (eds) Britain and Germany in Africa: Imperial rivalry and colonial rule Yale University Press,
London pp577-602 quote p581
Ingham K (1959) ‘Tanganyika in the Twenties’ in Tanganyika notes and records No.52 p20
links over which it was transferred, translated into an incidence and then a tradition of

By 1937, official perceptions of the meaning and definition of development had shifted far
enough to redefine its scope and priorities. Earl De la Warr, second in command and the
Colonial Office in 1937 said that the ‘ real "development" needed in Africa today is not the
investment of large sums of capital, but the improvement of the human material. The
limiting factor is the low standard of health and intelligence of the average native’ . David
Morgan emphasises this as concern for education and health and De la Warr added that,
‘ a definition of the word "development" that does not include functions such as I have
mentioned is deficient.’ 16 These observations contributed to a gradual movement in the
balance between policies based on capital funding of economic projects and the
strengthening of the social component. The 1940 Colonial Development and Welfare Act
was also inspired by the potential for colonial ‘ bad press’ in wartime and Malcolm
MacDonald17, as Secretary of State for the colonies argued that in the future, ‘ criticism of
Great Britain would be directed more and more against her management of the Colonial
Empire and it was essential to provide as little basis as possible for such criticism’ , with the
footnote that it was, ‘ an essential part of her defence policy that her reputation as a
Colonial power should be unassailable’ 18

Explicit policies of social development and development planning were pushed forward by
the interplay of guilt, responsibility, local demands and socialist ethics. There were a
handful of government schools and a Director of Education for Kenya by 1920 but little
provision of these services for natives despite an unfulfilled demand. The Young Baganda
Association had written to Negro Farmers Conference of 1921 in Alabama 19 saying, ‘ that
unless we Negroes get proper education and understand modern civilised ways, we will
never be advance and enjoy the privileges of citizens today’ 20 Clearly this was a will to
access the benefits of modernity and link them to an idea of development. This theme was
echoed in Kenya, where at the same time, the Akikuyu Association had requested aid to
found a school at Kikuyu, near Nairobi, in competition with the established Mission School21
By 1931, the Omuwanika [Treasurer] of Buganda had presented a detailed critique of an
unequal system saying that, ‘ Many people say there should be a special type of education
for the African, that it should be chiefly technical education? – That I do not agree with
because we require leaders for our people; I say that the principal system of education as it
is known in this country should be extended to us.’ 22

Elsewhere in the social field, pressure from the British Labour party and Trades Union
Congress (TUC) led directly to the appointment of a Labour advisor to the Colonial Office in
1937 while the TUC’ s Colonial Advisory Committee also pushed the Colonial Office to
establish a social services department in 193823. This led first to the requirement of the
Morgan DJ (1980) The origins of British aid policy Volume1 1924-1945 Macmillan, London pp59-60
Son of the first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald
Constantine 1984:241
At Tuskegee, place of Grover Washington, whose experiences were translated into Swahili
Lowe DA (1971) The mind of Buganda: documents of the modern history of an African kingdom University of
California Press, Berkeley p54
Mungeam 1978:494
Lowe 1971:95-96
Constantine 1984:232
1940 Colonial Development and Welfare Act (CD&W) for the provision of ‘ reasonable
facilities for the establishment and activities of trade unions’ 24 in the colonies while the Act
would widen the, ‘ interpretation of the word ‘ development’ , which would embrace social as
well as material progress, and would include, for example, medical and educational
services’ 25 The effects of the act were felt directly in the distribution of funds and the
precedent it set for further legislation including the 1945 CD&W Act. East African
development patterns reflected these changes and Table BB, a snapshot of planned
expenditure for Uganda following the war, shows large educational and social expenditure

Table BB
Uganda: Planned Development Expenditure 1946-50

Education £1,000,000
Health £1,500,000
Water and Soil £ 900,000
Roads £ 572,000
Social welfare £ 680,000

Morgan 1980:125
1939 memo by Sir Bernard Bourdillon, Governor of Nigeria quoted in Morgan 1980:69, Constantine 1984:243
The climate of the post-war and the United nations
As the post-war era began, the tradition of formalised development planning was being
established in the British colonies. In 1944 Colonel Oliver Stanley, the Secretary of State,
had detailed its basis as supervised expenditure with the two aims of distribution: ‘ sound
division of the money available as between different colonies’ , and targeting: ‘ a balance
between development and welfare’ .1 This further reformulation of development priorities
was essentially defensive. It was influenced by the internal forces of African organisation
and the external forces after the war such as Indian independence, the anti-colonialism of
the United States and the United Nations. Progress in British East Africa was further
determined by Kenya and the future of its European settlers – power structures were
inevitably more complicated by strong racial lobbying. The inevitability of independence
was underlined however by the United Nations visiting mission to East Africa in 1948. It
recorded that, ‘ political progress among Africans in Tanganyika was slow..’ , and, ‘ …
recommended increased educational facilities.’ 2These requests and the findings were
incorporated into development efforts by the British and it was an acknowledgement that
the ‘ tutelage’ required by Article 22 of the League of Nations Covenant was a means to an
end – the independence of all East African colonies. The UN General Assembly Resolution
555 (VI) required ‘ administering authorities to report on measures, taken or completed, in
the shortest possible time, to the objective of self-government or independence’ and the
1954 visiting mission to East Africa actually set a time period to independence of ‘ within a
generation’ .3

The United Nations itself, had been put into place by independent countries from 1944 and
to replace the League of Nations. Remaining bodies such as the International Labour
Organisation and the International Telecommunications Union were reconstituted4 with the
liberalism that shaped the United Nations’ own constitutional elements which followed from
1945. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank or ‘ the
Bank’ ) and International Monetary Fund were created from the Bretton Woods conference,
the former to attend to the reconstruction and development of post-war Europe then the
world, the latter to cover national balance of payments shortfalls. The United Nations also
created international institutions to address world-wide issues in development. Among
others, the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) was
constituted in 1946 and the World Health Organisation in 1948. East African nations did not
become members of these organisations until their independence in the 1960s and larger
developing nations and regions such as India, Brazil and Latin America as a whole were
more directly affected and concerned with their mechanisms. On the whole, the United
Nations addressed the balance between infrastructure/economic development and
human/social development in a similar way to the changing British policy.
Development thinkers, development planners and continuity
The UN report, ‘ Measures for the economic development of under-developed countries’
published in 1950 was a preliminary development policy document and dealt with progress,

Morgan 1980:209
Chidzero BTG (1961) Tanganyika and international trusteeship Royal Institute for International Affairs, London
Chidzero, 1961:165
for instance the ILO adopted the Philadelphia Declaration, with its new language of universalisms and
freedoms, in 1944 as an extension to its constitution
technology, growth and population. It emphasised ‘ domestic action’ 5 together with a
weighting of responsible organisation of society and institution building One of the
members of the working group that put together the report was (later Sir) W.Arthur Lewis.
He later published ‘ The theory of economic growth’ 6, a seminal analysis of growth and
development and a major contribution to the gathering discipline and policy complex of
development theory. Lewis and Albert Hirschmann, with his experience in Europe and
Columbia, both established coherent theories of development that were incorporated into
an orthodoxy that encompassed the study and practice of planning in developing and
underdeveloped economies. Their units of analysis were sectors and nations and their
epistemology was that of economics and positivism.

Comparative advantage in the Heckscher-Ohlin theory7; Rodenstein-Rodan’ s balanced

growth8; and investment and savings in Nurske’ s ‘ Problems of capital formation in
underdeveloped countries’ 9 supplied the analytical co-ordinates of the work of Lewis and
Hirschmann. Lewis’ theory introduced the analysis of ‘ dual-sectors’ within developing
nations taking on board theories of comparative advantage and formulated the paths
between components of the economy. Its plot was that developing countries comprised a
small capitalist sector and large traditional sector with unlimited labour10. Industrial
investment and capital accumulation in the capitalist sector determined growth and
employment. Growth was slow because there are low rates of savings for investment while
the manufacturing sector is not attracting labour from agriculture11. Lewis had identified
both the structural and competitive advantages in traditional production such as agriculture
and as the leading sector adjusted in conjunction with an industrial strategy, it would
produce the balanced growth posited by Nurske12.

Hirschmann however contended that heavy investment in any promising sector, agricultural
or industrial, could lead to growth and take-off. This would be unbalanced growth or in
Hirschmann’ s own atomic fission metaphor, ‘ utilising the energy which holds together
economic nuclei of given minimum size in the building up of these nuclei’ 13 The two theories
concurred on the theory of a leading sector which were contentious at that time –
agriculture, industry or a new sector – and remain at the heart of dilemmas in development
theory. However from the other side it was seen that the linkages and multipliers14 from any
leading sector in which comparative advantage had been established could lead towards

Dadzie K (1993) 'The UN and the problem of economic development' in Roberts A., Kingsbury B. (eds) 'United
Nations, Divided World'' Clarendon Press, UK pp297-326 section pp298-299
Lewis WA (1955) The theory of economic growth Irwin, Illinois
A theory of international trade that sees the matching of local factors and resources i.e. abundant labour and
highlands would give an advantage for the production of tea. The theory ignores commodity price fluctuation
and issues of imports and technical inputs.
His work saw the differences between strategies for developing and developed countries where limited
choices implied higher risks and stronger planning with the aim of balanced growth.
Introducing the basis of ‘gap’ models of financial shortfalls. This model saw the difference between investment
needed and that provided by domestic savings as a drag on an efficient and consistent allocation of resources.
zero marginal labour productivity i.e. subsistence
Todaro MP (1986) Economic development in the Third World Longman, UK pp67-71
Nurske (1962) Problems of Capital Formation in Underdeveloped Countries Oxford University Press, UK
Letter to Andre Gunter Frank in Hirschmann AO (1984) ‘A dissenter’s confession’ in Meier GM and Seers D
(eds) (1984) Pioneers of Development IBRD, Washington pp85-118, quote p105 with his own emphasis
For instance car assembly could directly lead to local components production and indirectly to infrastructure
such as roads and ultimately to the establishment of associated production such as oil refining and services like
economic growth. This ideas – linkages, multipliers and leading sectors – will be revisited
and discussed, in relation to telecommunications in the 1990s in Chapter Five.

The relationships between linkage based approaches and balanced growth would be
forced in the 1960s by a shift in theoretical attention away from growth and towards
analyses asserting spatial relations of trade and exchange. In particular, ‘ terms of trade’ ,
effectively the exchange rate between industrial goods and agricultural commodities, would
mark a dividing point between two rationalities of progress. Before the impact of this divide
had been felt, development planning in British East Africa made financial investments in
large scale projects. Some were ‘ successful’ such as the giant Owen’ s Falls hydro-
electricity project15 while others were unmitigated failures such as the groundnut scheme in
Tanganyika16. These two schemes addressed the priorities of ‘ a balance between
development and welfare’ approaching from either side of the agriculture/industry divide.
The first met the long term power needs of Uganda and Kenya until the 1980s, the second
collapsed into an environmental catastrophe where bad planning and investment produced
no advancement of the agricultural sector. They show the nub of a central development
problem in that infrastructure has remained a ‘ good investment’ although introducing
technical dependencies and hangovers while agricultural schemes generally fail if they are
not given the whole-hearted support and input of a number of complicated rural social
structures. They also marked the pre-eminence of the state as planner, implementer and
conduit for international finance while revealing some of the strengths and weaknesses of
this approach.

Large infrastructure projects were an unquestioned function of the state until ideologies and
experiences gathered up until the 1980s questioned this approach. Telecommunications
were a prime example of unquestioned investment in infrastructure and spending was high
in the period approaching independence. Between 1949 and 1958 the Posts and
Telecommunications Advisory Board of the East African High Commission reckoned on
investments of £10 million.17 For this they increased the total numbers of telephone
subscribers in East Africa from 10,950 in 1950 to 31,427 in 1957 and the total number of
lines18 from 21,100 in 1950 to 66,340 in 1958. These represent increases of 36% and 35%
per annum respectively while waiting lists varied between 7,300 and 9,000 potential
subscribers. Figure BC shows that Kenya displayed a burst of growth higher than Uganda,
Tanganyika and Zanzibar yet not all data is presented. Headquarter exchanges were also
built in the three of four countries during this period and these remain in operation, though
upgraded and overshadowed by the skyscrapers named and funded by external,
international telecommunications traffic.

Figure BC
Subscriber telephone lines in East Africa 1950-19631
1947-1954, see Hoyle BS (1971) ‘The economic expansion of Jinja, Uganda’ in Mountjoy AB (1971) (ed)
‘ Developing the underdeveloped countries’ Macmillan, London pp224-239
See for instance: Morgan DJ (1980) The origins of British aid policy Volume 2 Macmillan, London; Blaikie P
(1983) The political economy of soil erosion Routledge, UK
Hill JFR and Moffet JP (1955) Tanganyika: a review of its resources and their development Government of
Tanganyika, Dar es Salaam pp211-212
including extensions
Sources: Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (1994) Telecommunications and postal statistics
1932-1993 TTCL , Dare es Salaam; East Africa High Commission (1960) Annual Report 1949-1960 HMSO,

Uganda Tanganyika and Zanzibar Kenya

Moving to independence
The 1960s heralded independence for the nations of the former British East Africa. Political
parties solidified from associations and movements while the solidity of British rule had
been shaken by disturbances in the late 1940s and 1950s. These were notably; troubles
over Baganda succession, democracy and the right to process cotton in Uganda which
came to a head in 1949. In Tanzania, between 1956 to 1960, there was a rise in the
number of staff-days lost to strikes from 58,066 to 1,494,773 while the number of workers
joining strikes increased from 17,695 to 89,4951. These often had a political basis and were
encouraged by the Tanzania African Union (TANU). In Kenya there was an attempted
general strike ostensibly over wage demands in 19502 followed by armed opposition by the
MauMau movement between 1952 and 1956. The subsequent ‘ emergency’ cost 13,324
lives and £55 million in extra expenditure up to June 19593 and contributed towards rapid
independence. The centre of British East Africa had proved to be ungovernable and was
independent by the beginning of 1964 while Tanzania had become independent in 1961
and Uganda in 1962.

The 1960s also produced radical critiques of orthodox development theory while
international aid emphasised the role of development institutions as they became more
directly involved with newly independent states. The United Nations Council on Trade and
Development (UNCTAD) was constituted in 1964 which, headed by Raoul Prebisch,
highlighted trade and exchange as development issues. By that time most colonies had
gained their independence and were ‘ non-aligned’ in a Cold War climate. Development
orthodoxy was now represented by Rostow’ s4 ‘ Stages of economic development’ replacing

London; Government of Uganda (1953-1971) Statistical Abstract Government Press, Kampala

Mwakyembe HG (1986) ‘The parliament and the electoral process’ in Shivji IG (1986)(ed) The State and the
working people in Tanzania CODESRIA, Dar es Salaam p21
Zeleza T (1993) ‘The strike movement in colonial Kenya: the era of the general strikes' in TransAfrican Journal
of History No.23 pp1-23
Ogot BA (1981) Historical dictionary of Kenya Scarecrow Press, London p136-137
A renowned supporter of the Vietnam War and colleague of Robert McNamara in the Kennedy/Johnson
cabinets of the 1960s, see Rostow (1996) ‘The case for the Vietnam war’ in Parameters Winter 1996-1997
‘ big push’ with ‘ take-off’ and placing aid as an important lever. Aid would be targeted to
correct economic blockages: savings, investment and acquiring foreign currency for
infrastructure at one level. At another level it would help amend other barriers to progress
such as education and the continuing dualisms of agriculture and industry. In this sense the
paradigm had moved from economic analysis to a complex of technocratic measures for
policy and planning. It was addressing structural specifics, not merely growth, yet
emphasising the possibility of managed development under the agency of the state and
international institutions.

Measurement and computers

Development practice had metamorphosed and saw a process of professionalisation with
growing specialisms and the influence of a wider numbers of disciplines. These were
regrouped according to affiliations to the expanding number of multilateral and bilateral
development agencies and along new epistemological lines. Simultaneously the power of
information gathering – larger numbers of statistics collated, indices compiled and the
introduction of computer processing and analysis of data – was influencing empirical and
positivist claims of the best way ahead. New statistical information was driven by
theoretical demand, created in the course of research and generated by the state and
international agencies. This tradition of measurement has largely followed the growth of the
state and the power of computing.

Theoretical and empirical connections can be shown jointly with a starting point of national
accounting and measures of GNP and GDP. ‘ One of the earliest efforts of the United
Nations was a drive – initially by Keynes – to create a vast improvement in national
statistical services...’ , backed up by, ‘ … international collection, standardisation and
reporting’ .1 The Harrod-Domar models of savings, investment and economic growth2 fed off
this new data and this in turn drove forward a ‘ spell of quite profound research into the
capital/output ratio’ 3 to determine precise investment levels in order to increase per capita
income. Work on investment and growth also formed part of the work of Hans Singer and
informed his calculations of centre-periphery relationships4. The effects of Harrod-Domar
and investment/savings data were most prominent in the work of Nurske, Lewis and
Rostow who categorised and formalised these economic measures into models of
development. Their writings predominated in development planning of the 1950s and 60s
which, ‘ … dealt with economy-wide application of linear, non-linear, and dynamic
programming techniques…g reatly helped by the rapid advance of electronic computers,
which did not exist in the early planning days.’ 5

Measures had multiplied and information gathering produced smaller components for larger
measures. Lipton relates the progress of a portion of these changes introduced in the
1950s and lists new measures in rural development at that time as self-consumed farm

Brookfield H (1975) Interdependent development Methuen, London p26
Formulated between 1939 and 1946
Brookfield H, 1975:35
Singer HW (1950) ‘The distribution of gains between investing and borrowing countries’ American Economic
Review Vol.40 No.2
Bruno M (1984) in Meier GM and Seers D (eds) (1984) Pioneers of Development IBRD, Washington pp332-
336 quote p333
input, rural non-farm employment and purchasing-power comparison.6 By the end of the
1960s Chenery and Kuznets were producing datacentric studies that thrived on huge
historical datasets of multiple nations made possible by computer processing and analysis.
Changes in economic structures and individual sectors could be generalised on a global
scale with universal rules, backed up by the accuracy and neutrality of results derived from
computation. Pyatt’ s critique of this approach is that it forms part of a major intellectual
tradition of empiricism where, ‘ Any gap is in the database, not in the approach’ 7

Nationalism and Ideology – African Socialism

Independence bred national ideologies, dealt with here and below in the discussion of
development crises. Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika shared the common approach of
African socialism – Pan-Africanism tempered by local communal values – as they
formulated policies of independence. This was an answer to economists, sociologists and
ethnologists incorporating a cultural strategy towards development underlined by the left-
historical epistemologies of Balandier, DuBois, Cesaire and Senghor. It was bonded by the
intellectual ferment of the formal and political education of the new leaders. Kenyatta had
written Facing Mount Kenya8 which was ‘ both a study of Kikuyu ways and style of life and a
discreet political manifesto.’ 9 while Obote and Nyerere had studied together at Makerere
College, Kampala.

Following the Dar es Salaam-backed revolution in Zanzibar in 1964, the formation of a

United Republic of Tanzania meant there were now three national units and three national
plans. They channelled development efforts down nationalist paths to retain the
appearances of internal cohesion and economic stability and Tanzania steered towards a
populism shored up by a greater national ethnic homogeneity. Official Development Aid
was also fitting into the development equation. Between 1964 and 1967, Tanzania derived
an average of 35% of its development budget from aid while by the mid seventies the
average had risen to 65%10. Statistics for Kenya show aid in the year 1963/4 at 82% of the
total development budget and this had fallen to 46% in 1972/7311 These two figures show a
contrary tendency to that expected if aid followed cold war politics – Kenya’ s approach was
strategic yet pragmatic, and allowed the presence of western armed forces while Tanzania
would follow a program of rigid socialism. Uganda however found an immediate split
between ideology and the practicalities of a divided constitution. This led to the bloody
confrontation between the Kabaka of Baganda12 and Obote in 1966 and was followed by a

Lipton M (1984) ‘Comment’ in Meier GM and Seers D (eds) (1984) Pioneers of Development IBRD,
Washington pp44-50, measures on p46
Pyatt G (1984) ‘Comment’ in Meier GM and Seers D (eds) (1984) Pioneers of Development IBRD,
Washington pp78-83, quote p79
Written after studying under Malinowski of Trobriand Islanders fame. It provokes contemporary controversy in
Kenya for its acceptance of cliterodectomy and in academia for nationalist superstition see Chatterjee P (1971)
‘Introduction’ in Kedourie E (ed) Nationalism in Asia and Africa Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London pp76-77
Mudimbe VY (1988) The invention of Africa: Gnosis, philosophy and the order of knowledge James Currey,
Indiana quote p77
McCall M and Skutsch M (1983) ‘Strategies and contradictions in Tanzania’s rural development: Which path
for peasants’ in Lea AM and Chaudri DP Rural development and the state Methuen, London pp241-272, data
Ogot 1981:69
Edward Mutesa had served as an officer in the Grenadier Guards (Mazrui AA (1975) Soldiers and Kinsmen in
Uganda: the making of a military ethnocracy’ Sage, London pp172-174) and saw the coup as an attack on
civilisation and tradition (Mutesa E (1967) The desecration of my kingdom Constable, London p7) while Ranger
saw the Baganda monarchy as one of Africa's invented traditions (Ranger T (1983) ‘The invention of tradition in
‘ move to the left’ and a program of nationalisation and central planning. Development plans
were halted however by the political disruptions and most of the planning outlined by 1971
was never carried out in the chaos of the military rule that followed.

Kenya and Tanzania’ s development paths were fixed by the mid 1960s. Kenya’ s was
outlined in the document, ‘ African socialism and its application to planning in Kenya’
published in 1965. According to Ogot, ‘ Kenyatta described it as Kenya’ s economic “ bible” ’ ,
and he reported its aims thus:

‘ Kenya’ s socialism had to be derived from Kenya’ s cultural roots and not from Marxist
analysis. Private foreign investment was to be encouraged; Private property was to be
protected, and there would be no expropriation without full compensation;
nationalisation would only be practised under certain special circumstances; inequitable
distribution of wealth was to be controlled to avoid the use of economic power as a
power base; foreign firms had to be encouraged to Africanise their management and to
make their shares available to Africans who wished to buy them; and Africans were to
be established in private enterprise through loans and by restricting certain trades and
trading areas to citizen traders’ 13

Tanzania’ s direction was underlined by Nyerere’ s Arusha Declaration of 1967 and he had
declared that:

‘ I do not think there is any free state in Africa where there is sufficient local capital, or a
sufficient number of local entrepreneurs, for locally-based capitalism to dominate the
economy. Private investment in Africa means overwhelming foreign private investment.
A capitalistic economy means a foreign-dominated economy. These are the facts of the
African situation. The only way in which national control of the economy can be
achieved is through the economic institutions of socialism’ 14

These differences in development approaches were based on divergent tendencies in

development theory, the specific political economies of the two nations and the
personalities of the leaders themselves. In effect they had become independent yet
autonomy proved elusive, Kenya concurred and Tanzania rebelled.

Exchange, Transfer and Underdevelopment

The role of trade and exchange in development had been addressed by Prebisch at the
United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America1 where he had observed:

‘ For each peripheral country, the type and extent of its linkage with the centre
depended largely on its resources and its economic capacity for mobilising them. In my
view, this fact was one of the greatest importance since it conditioned the economic
structure and dynamism of each country - that is the rate that which technical progress
would engender. Similarly, this system of economic relations exaggerated the degree
to which income in the periphery was siphoned off by the centres. Moreover, the
penetration and propagation of technical progress in the countries of the periphery was
to slow to absorb the entire labour force in a productive manner. Thus, the
concentration of technical progress and its fruits in economic activities oriented toward

colonial Africa’ in Hobsbawm EJ and Ranger T (eds) The invention of tradition Cambridge, UK pp211-262,
detail 233-236)
Ogot, 1981:12
Nyerere JK (1968)‘Economic nationalism’ speech of February 28 1967 in Freedom and Socialism (1968)
Oxford University Press, UK p264
UNECLA (1950) The economic development of Latin America and its principal problems UN Department of
Economic Affairs, New York
exports became characteristic of a heterogeneous social structure in which a large part
of the population remained on the sidelines’ 2

Prebisch saw the international interaction of industrialised centres with peripheral

agricultural commodity producing countries through economic relationships conditioned by
unfavourable terms of trade between technology and primary goods. According to research
by Singer, between 1948 and 1982 there was ‘ a tendency toward further deterioration of
the terms of trade of primary exports by developing economies relative to their
manufactured exports’ 3 Two themes were apparent, first the structural make-up of
developing economies emphasised a traditional agricultural base while local industrial
production seemed to offer the escape route from the continuing trade trap. Secondly the
international system was distorted in favour of the few industrialised countries at the
expense of the new ‘ Third World’ .

Spatial distortions had then been identified between the rural/agricultural, urban/industrial
and local/international levels through theories of dualism and now theories of dependency.
Hirschmann’ s unbalanced growth had unconsciously articulated this
fusion/siphoning/osmosis of planning and effects while Perroux and Friedmann4
incorporated geographical concepts to formulate ideas of unbalanced spaces and poles of
growth. This line of thought was channelled into the ‘ sub-discipline’ of regional
development and planning with the emphasis on the diffusion (read trickle-down) of
progress/technology/development. Sociology and international relations contributed more
radical theories highlighting disparities and identifying mechanisms of underdevelopment in
the trade system and the capitalist world economy.

The movement embraced both a broad historical overview and an approach based on
linkage and interconnection. This adds up to degrees of systemness which vary between
the two poles of the development of underdevelopment on one hand and asymmetric
interdependence on the other. The first, stemming from Frank and Wallerstein, has
asserted that there is a world capitalist system that extends from developed countries
through the third world and its regions in chains of centres and peripheries with the higher
level underdeveloping the lower level. At its most extreme it asserts that development is not
possible from the periphery as the exploitative ties of class and economic exchange extract
any surplus. At the other end, along the lines of Nye1 and Cardoso, is an acknowledgement
that there are connections between unequal economic and social units that can induce
positive or negative effects. There is interdependence between these units in the form of a
global stability and economic relationships yet there is a relative, not absolute, and shifting
asymmetry between component nations and regions. The theoretical gaps between the two
are filled by regional and spatial analyses of this inequality together with models of class,
social stratification and dualism.

Prebisch R (1984) ‘Five stages in my thinking on development’ in Meier GM and Seers D (eds) (1984)
Pioneers of Development IBRD, Washington pp173-204, quote p177
Singer HW (1984) ‘The terms of trade controversy and the evolution of soft financing: Early years in the UN’ in
Meier GM and Seers D (eds) (1984) Pioneers of Development IBRD, Washington pp273-303, quote p282
both present versions poles of growth in the collection Friedman J and Alonso W (1964)(eds) Regional
development and planning: A reader
Nye, JS (1968) Peace in Parts: Integration and Conflict in Regional Organization Little Brown, Boston
The paradigm’ s influence on policy was taken with the economic panaceas offered by
Prebisch and UNCTAD for readjusting terms of exchange. Key components were the
establishment of national programs of industrial development and often in cahoots with
multinational corporations. Industry was allowed to establish behind protectionist barriers
and in order for them to develop unhindered and this was usually in the form of a local
monopoly ‘ concession’ . The sobriquet for this form of development was either ‘ import
substituting industrialisation’ or ‘ infant industry protection’ but its aims were not entirely
fulfilled. East Africa offers excellent examples of economies that went along with these
ideas and offer a good insight into the workings of the theoretical side of the debate –
attempts to delink from the world capitalist system in the case of Tanzania and to coexist in
an unequal and asymmetric world in the case of Kenya. At the end of the process they
showed many similarities on the surface – state predominance and patronage, a legacy of
multiple parastatals and monopolies, strongly dualistic economies. While these changes
were underway, Uganda was plunged into a 15 year civil war between north/south splits in
the ruling class. Amin’ s rule pressured the sharing arrangement of the East African
Community. It showed that the fragile post-independence coalitions could break down both
nationally and regionally.

Post-colonial telecommunications and Pan-Africanism

Independence in South Asia, South and Central America and Arab countries heralded
dramatic infrastructure programmes. With this came development initiatives in
telecommunications based on connecting disparate parts of a country or region. In 1964,
Friedmann stated that, ‘ large underdeveloped nations…f ind that their regional elements
are insufficiently interrelated, that they are composed of regional “ islands” . The struggle is
to achieve a common ethos and a closely interdependent national economic system. Such
countries look upon their development as a process leading to the progressive internal
integration of their national territories’ 2 This rationale, in the mould of regional and national
development, led to the deployment of satellite systems by India, Brazil, Indonesia and the
ArabSat coalition. African countries were also influenced by these arguments and their
experience was strongly influenced by Pan-Africanism and the difficulties of implementing a
large joint telecommunications project.

The Panaftel network was born from the 1962 Regional Plan Committee for Africa in
Senegal and was to realign the colonial communications infrastructures towards an inter-
African telecommunications system. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda had operated a single
UHF radio system for international connections and these were routed via London. A
solution for targeting local communications seemed ideologically sound, could produce
economic multiplier effects and a degree of continental autonomy . Panaftel implementation
phases took place from 1972-1982 and 1983-1986 under the UNDP and the ITU. The main
thrust was to install a series of analogue microwave connections between African countries
and by 1987 there were a total of 35,000km of microwave links, 8000 km of submarine
links (in West Africa), 43 international switching centres and 41 countries with international
satellite earth stations3

Friedmann and Alonso, 1964:4
Much of this information is from Nuruddin MM (1996) Models for the development of regional
telecommunications networks CITI Working Paper No.799 Columbia University, New York
Panaftel never delivered its promise of an viable alternative communications route and
1992 statistics show that only 14% of African international traffic actually stayed on the
continent4. Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (UPTC) statistics for 1986
show that the Lusaka and Addis Panaftel connections carried half of African traffic which
however only contributed between 5% and 6% of all international connections. By 1996
these the two Panaftel links carried a tiny proportion of traffic – the Lusaka route only
carried 0.3% of international outgoing minutes and 0.1% of international incoming minutes
while the Addis route took 0.9% of international outgoing and 0.1% of international
incoming minutes. Interconnection of all continental routes was never achieved, displaying
the performance differentials between the country components of the network. In 1996, the
secretary-general of the ITU understated that the, ‘ Panaftel network has still some gaps
while some links need modernisation and capacity expansion.’ 5 But in effect he was also
writing the obituary of the totality of the project and pointing the way towards the co-
operative purchasing of satellite space through the – just as unsuccessful 6 – Regional
Satellite Model (RASCOM).

Expectations over-reached the feasibility of interconnecting large number of countries and

the expense has surpassed revenues7. Panaftel failed to generate significant local traffic
except over regional links in southern Africa. Connections through European and American
relays remain the predominant routes for international telephone calls. Analogue
microwave connections were old technologies by the time they were implemented and do
not produce the efficiency and reliability of digital systems. Prone to congestion at peak
times on popular routes they were poorly specified by the, presumably international,
procuring consultants and engineers. It was a venture that tested the waters of
technological co-operation and the possibilities of autonomous African telecommunications
yet projections were not met and great expense was incurred.

A key failure of Panaftel was to concentrate resources on international links rather than
expanding national teledensity and back-filling the gaps between main-line routes. This
scale is where intervention has been directed towards continental elite inter-communication
and before local mass communication. Pan-Africanism and telecommunications have not
delivered effective infrastructure.

Kenya and Tanzania – debates over direction and control

The essence of the Kenya Debate considered the position that the state took in the
document ‘ African socialism and its application to planning in Kenya’ which kept it firmly in
contact with the capitalist world system/economy. An alliance between the state, the
iniquitous forces of Multinational Corporations (MNCs) and the development of ethnic,
Asian and Kikuyu, capitalist élites was seen to act to produce trading and class cartels
together with economic and social structures effectively under outside and comprador
control. Much of the sting of the contention was removed in the 1980s by the readjustment
ITU (1994) African Telecommunication Indicators, ITU, Geneva
Tarjanne P (1996) Speech to the African Regional Telecommunication Development Conference, Abidjan,
May 1996. However according to Nuruddin, international funding for the project was withdrawn by 1992
Conceived in 1975, it is now, after 24 years, close(ish) to getting an African satellite in orbit. This is scheduled
for 2001. Tenders had not been placed by 1998.
7 Mureithi estimates Panaftel’ s cost as $900 million annually, Mureithi M (1997) African telecommunications infrastructure for information access Universal Dataflow and Telecommunications

Occasional Paper No.7, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), The Hague

of ethnic priorities under Moi, rising commodity prices following the slump in their value in
1979 and local business successes. In fact Leys recently admitted that ‘ foreign
manufacturing capital, organised in MNCs, is not interested in undertaking or organising
the production of most of its needed outputs, let alone local production in every country
where it is established.’ 8 As for the domestic bourgeois, he acknowledges they were in fact
responsible for most local growth and that Kenyan politics and the Kenyan political class
were determining components in retaining a balanced indigenous economy. Kenya
retained its economic and political autonomy.

From the late 1960s and to the 80s, dependency theory influenced much of economic and
political debate while nationalism and national development were the keenest cohesive
forces amongst many disparate actors. Continuing hegemonies led to predictability,
stability and the certainty of returns on investment. These survived the external shock of
the 1970s oil crisis and the regional crisis of the break up of the East African Community in
1977. However the position of the state as a player in development and development
planning was central and the recession of the 1980s brought the competence of its
trajectory of patronage and targeted distribution into question. Dependence was less of a
force than the unwillingness of economic and ruling classes to compromise their networks
of accumulation. In the face of a slump in the world system, the need for rethinking
development strategies and priorities was not addressed. Kenya moved towards a trend of
decline that was sometimes gradual and sometimes sudden. Textile industries that had
been encouraged to locate locally slumped in the face of heightened competition from other
strategies of ‘ flexible specialisation’ . These new global forces had not been ignored by
Kenya yet the patterns of investment and production symptomatic of post-fordism/flexible
accumulation were more attracted by prospects in East Asia. They took advantage of
asymmetry, organisational and space compressing techniques and the growing Pacific Rim
market rather than cheap African labour.

Tanzania launched its programs of villagisation (ujamaa), parastatal industries and the
construction of infrastructure based on local capacity and socialist partnerships in the 1964
five year plan. It proved to be an example of hope overcome by global influence with
dependency continuing despite plans for local industrialisation and redistributive central
planning. The economy, more than Kenya, was based almost entirely on primary
commodities. The prices of these were set in the London exchanges, consumer and
purchaser demand was overwhelmingly external with marketing and other value added
processes located outside of the country. Control over commodities remained within
worldwide exchange mechanisms while at home state controls over production, purchasing
and local marketing sucked surplus into the state. By the late 1980s, both coffee and tea
production were at the same levels as in 1966. In comparison, Kenya had doubled
production of coffee and increased tea to six times the level of 25 years previously 1.
Tanzania’ s agricultural focus had neither produced an internal transformation of this sector
nor reduced dependence.

8 Leys C (1996) The rise and fall of development theory James Currey, Oxford p153

Lofchie MF (1994) ‘The politics of agricultural policy’ in Barkan JD (1994)(ed) Beyond capitalism and socialism
in Kenya and Tanzania Lynne Rennier, London pp129-173, data from p130-132
Sklair has summarised these dilemmas and looks closely at the position of transnational
companies throughout her analysis. Tanzanian parastatal companies were under common
ownership but run by expatriates and administered by Tanzanians with divided loyalties.
Consequently they were neither effectively under local control nor producing for priorities
wider than those of ‘ foreign experts, the World Bank and other purveyors of the capitalist
global project’ 2 Ujamaa villagisation, the communal ownership of land and sharing of
production slowed quickly from already low levels of participation. The collectivisation
became forced and at the beginning of the 1980s there was little diversification of the
economic base and it shared the same fate of decline and caught the recession in the
‘ world capitalist system’

Barkan labels the period between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1990s in
Kenya and Tanzania as the ‘ era of political and economic decay’ . He indicates shared
characteristics of: Politics above economics (African socialism and the one party states of
TANU and KANU); State manipulation of redistribution and markets (clientelism, co-
operatives and marketing boards); Budget deficits and inflation; Corruption and a bloated
civil service. In summary he writes that in both Kenya and Tanzania, ‘ economic decline,
precipitated by the state’ s mismanagement of the economy, accelerated the process of
political decay, as key elements in society withdrew from the system or began to challenge
the authority of the regime’ 3 Both countries experienced comparable decline, asynchronous
by five years but with similar symptoms, according to Barkan’ s sketch. These same
symptoms can also be extended to Uganda with some extra qualifications – Uganda’ s
decline was guided by two absolutes. First two periods of extreme state violence forced
many parts of society and the economy back into subsistence, those of Amin and Obote II,
between 1971 and 1985. Second the financial viability of the ‘ rent-seeking’ state was
underwritten by unreciprocated gifts and aid from Israel, Libya and Britain in no particular
order. Uganda was reduced to a state of begging by 1985 when the Museveni’ s National
Resistance Army took control as formal mechanisms of economic reproduction had been
degraded by two effectively military dictatorships.

Development sensibilities and states of rule

The practice and theory of development in East Africa had then passed through three
peaks of development sensibilities. Early colonial development concentrated on building
infrastructure and Eurocentric markets. International monitoring and the recognition of
native rights led towards the orthodoxy and ‘ neutrality’ of development planning. Ultimately
the influence of Afrocentric and nationalist development was established, informed by the
contradictions of local and international interests. These sensibilities added rather than
subtracted historical experience and incorporated the methodologies of empiricism and
positivism in constructing development truths. In tabular form I have listed elements of
these and added columns to describe the ‘ state of rule’ in the political economy and a row
to outline what has followed in the 1990s. They are shown in figure BD.

Figure BD
Sklair L (1995) Sociology of the global system Prentice Hall, UK p200
Barkan JD (1994) ‘Divergence and convergence in Kenya and Tanzania: Pressures for reform’ in Barkan JD
(1994)(ed) Beyond capitalism and socialism in Kenya and Tanzania Lynne Rennier, London pp1-46, quote
Development sensibilities in East Africa
Point of organisation Articulation Current State State of Rule
Berlin Conference Monetisation Empire-colony protectorate Colonisador
Bretton Woods Stages Trickle down colonial Civilizador
Dependency Connections Centre-periphery independent Comprador
Post Everything Networks Global bonds adjusted Cumpridor

Barkan’ s generalisations of Tanzania and Kenya are part of the folding back of government
in Africa after the high tide mark of the one party state. His critique is aimed squarely at the
state and the ‘ political class’ and Fanon was described this phenomenon, the ‘ bankruptcy
of the bourgeoisie’ 4 Leys translates this social grouping as ‘ comprador’ or in his words,
‘ commission agent[s] for foreign capital’ 5 The arguments put by Barkan avoid direct cultural
criticism and it is important to remember that the system he was criticising was actually
African socialism as it was played out in East Africa. Fanon had already offered a view on
this. He wrote that cultural logic of the independent mind-set was shaped as, ‘ …K enyan
intellectuals found themselves above all up against a general ostracism and delivered to
the...contempt of their overlords, their reaction was to sing praises in admiration of each
other. The unconditional affirmation of African culture has succeeded the unconditional
affirmation of European culture.’ 6 The situation was therefore a degree more complex. The
varnish of economic success had worn off, the veneer of the political class was peeling
away and the communalisms of Ujamaa, Harambee and Nyayo were exposed.

From comprador to cumpridor

The state’ s position and competence in development was under fire as decline continued
throughout the 1980s in East Africa. I see the changes demanded from outside as a shift
from a comprador model – where the state and its allies were often financially interlinked
within an export dependent economy – to a cumpridor model. Cumpridor translates from
Portuguese as ‘ responsible’ in two senses. First as a ‘ timely and honest broker’ and
secondly in terms of rights and justice. It therefore encompasses both sides of what is now
jargoned as ‘ governance’ in development – the delivery of development objectives
unconstrained by commercial self interest or corruption and based on a framework of
human rights and basic equalities.

As early as 1971, Nobel laureate Simon Kuznets outlined what the role the state should
play in attaining ‘ modern economic growth’ . Kuznets’ ideas read like current World Bank
policy for developing countries and he outlines what I see as the limited state in the
cumpridor model. The state acts as a broker for internal and external interests in three
ways, ‘ as a clearing house for necessary institutional innovations; as an agency for the
resolution of conflicts among group interests; and as a major entrepreneur for the socially
required infrastructure’ . The democratic prerequisites are the support of the population and,
‘ a feeling of community of kind an acceptance that the idea that the good of the nation is
more important than the interests of subgroups and individuals – what might be called
modern nationalism’ 1

Fanon F (1967) The wretched of the earth Penguin, UK p131
Leys 1996:123
Fanon 1967:171
Kuznets S (1971) Economic growth of nations: Total output and production structure Belknap Press,
Cambridge, US pp346-347
These ends have been the objectives of IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes in East
Africa despite their constituted role in merely addressing balance of payments problems.
However structural inflation – the propensity to import more than is exported – and
underlying gaps between domestic capital formation and foreign exchange requirements
forced the countries to accept IMF conditionalities. Tanzania announced the Economic
Restructuring Programme in July 19862 and Uganda’ s Economic Recovery Programme
was started in May 1987. Kenya meanwhile played cat and mouse with international
financial institutions throughout the 1980s and 90s, introducing tariff and civil service
reforms on one hand and printing money to pay ‘ election expenses’ on the other.
International Financial Institutions made 15 adjustment loans to Kenya over 1980-92
according to Easterly3.

The Economist describes Kenya’ s negotiating strategy and dance of resistance in this way:

The steps are: One, …K enya wins its yearly pledges of foreign aid. Two, the
government begins to misbehave, backtracking on economic reform...Three, a new
meeting of donor countries looms with exasperated foreign governments preparing
their sharp rebukes. Four, Kenya pulls a placatory rabbit out of the hat. Five, the donors
are mollified and aid is pledged. The whole dance then starts again.4

These countries were not entering an era of ‘ modern economic growth’ in Kuznets’
formulation, but they were to conform to conditionalities that pushed all three towards the
cumpridor, ideal type. In fact the process appears more to be the subtle form of
dependency outline by Cardoso – associated dependent development. He wrote in 1979

‘ Peripheral economies, even when they are no longer restricted to the production of
raw materials remain dependent in a very specific form: their capital-good production
sectors are not strong enough to ensure the continuous advance of the system, in
financial as well as technological and organisational terms. So, in order to go ahead
with economic expansion, a great dependent country has to play the “ interdependency
game” , but in a position similar to the client who approaches a bank. Of course clients
usually develop strategies of independence and can try to borrow money in productive
ways. But, insofar as there are structural borderlines, successful attempts are not an
automatic output of the game.’ 5

The state’ s functions have been negotiated against international credit in more than this
way. The debt crisis has been extended from the initial overstretching of international credit
at the beginning of the 1980s to include the loans made in structural adjustments and for
projects and loans taken up since.

Brett introduces a ‘ stages of institutional change’ for East Africa which reinforce the
concept further. He sees the period to the 1940s as the creation of the modern state and
economic system under direct foreign control’ , the 40s to 50s saw the Africanisation of
Holm M (1995) ‘The impact of structural adjustment on intermediate towns and urban migrants: An example
from Tanzania’ in Simon D et al (eds)(1995) Structurally adjusted Africa: Poverty, debt and basic needs Pluto
Press, London pp91-106 review of p96
Easterly W (1998) The Quest for Growth: How we wandered the tropics trying to figure out how to make poor
countries rich. World Bank lecture paper, November 1998
'Aid for Kenya. Stop, go', The Economist August 19th 1995
Cardoso FH and Faletto E (1979) Dependency and development in Latin America University of California
Press, Berkeley xxii
structures and from 1964 to 1986 was the ‘ dissolution of the colonial state structure’ . Finally
from 1987 to the present day there has been an ‘ attempt to create democratic, open and
rule-governed system through Structural Adjustment… ’ The democratic side of the
cumpridor ‘ pact’ outlined in Brett’ s final stage, has not been seen to be fulfilled 6. This has
led recent writers to speculate on the actual power of the development ‘ subject’ and
according to Crush, ‘ Africans become objects for the application of power rather than
subjects experiencing and responding to the exercise of that power. This is the power of
development: the power to transform old worlds, the power to imagine new ones.’ 7
Government has been modernised and developed.

The advent of post-structuralism in development theory added a hermeneutical critique that
has homed in on a ‘ bottom-up’ and ‘ grassroots’ perspective and an examination of the
development profession itself. Something along the lines of this perspective were outlined
by Robert McNamara in Nairobi in September 1973 when he outlined the strategy to target
development towards the ‘ poorest of the poor’ through rural development, basic human
needs strategies and assistance to the ‘ special publics’ of the marginal and vulnerable.
This approach has been heavily criticised recently by Escobar as sharing the same
development trajectory as the Green Revolution and genetically modified tomatoes –
moving growth out into the countryside. His dramatic rebuttal of the integrated rural
development (IRD) plans rolled out under McNamara takes us on a grand tour of a
Foucauldian excavation of all development:

‘ What the IRD discourse achieves is the integration of those statements that reproduce,
as it were, the world we know; a world of production and markets, of good and bad, of
developed and underdeveloped, of aid, of investment by multinational corporations, of
science and technology, of progress and happiness, of individuality and economics.
This curve of integration of statements influences our perceptions greatly; the
orderings, prioritisations, and serialisations in which it relies circumscribe the Third
World, fragment and recompose the countryside and its people, manipulate visibilities,
act on imperfections or deficiencies (of capital, of technology, of knowledge, perhaps
even the right skin colour), make projects happen; in short, they ensure a certain
functioning of power.1

It concentrates on the systemness of ‘ the instrumental rationality often taken to be the

hallmark of modernity’ 2 and the operation of the development power identified by Crush.
However it criticises ‘ Basic Needs’ , one of the roots of the bottom-up approach, with full
frontal assault of the ‘ textual turn’ .

McNamara was most definitely a man of the military-industrial complex but also a manager
and politician. He had been President of the Ford Motor Corporation and Secretary of
Defence during the Vietnam War before he headed the World Bank. The policies of this
new turn in development that he outlined focused on the ‘ development subjects’ , the social
groups, that Mao and Nyerere esteemed. These were the exact same groups that were the
The 1995 elections in Tanzania, the 1997 elections in Kenya and the constitutional referendum in Uganda
have all faced genuine criticisms of procedural irregularity and even outright ‘rigging’. Inevitably all share the
same slogans of Democracy, Peace, Modernisation and Development in varying combinations.
Crush J (1995) (ed) ‘ The power of development’ Routledge, London p2
Escobar A (1995) Encountering development: the making and unmaking of the Third World Princeton
University Press, US pp162-163
Giddens A 1991:179
‘ revolutionary subjects’ of Museveni’ s Ugandan National Resistance Army, the Vietcong
and South and Central American liberation movements and currently they are the focus of
the Indigenous Knowledge/Participatory/Grassroots paradigm. The Bank was identifying
and addressing these new development subjects – small-scale farmers, tenants,
sharecroppers, landless labourers – while attempting a strategy of development from
below. This was a notable shift away from a strategy that dealt with government plans and
saw the beginnings of a relationship with Non-Governmental Organisations.

This important statement of intent contributed to the uncertainty and rebalancing of

development theory. Marxists were engaged in the same debates – peasants articulating
between traditional and capitalist mode of production. In another theoretical meeting of
minds, the logic of famines resulting from absolute food shortage was destroyed. The
rightness of states as sole implementers of national development was undermined. In
essence the field of development was colonising all aspects of societal change while at the
same time the Third World was becoming more heterogeneous. Development rightly hit an
impasse as the field became wider and generalisations became less applicable. What has
been created from the complexities of orthodoxy and dissidence have been some long term

First there has been a clearer statistical view of those people and objects being developed.
Measurement, as shown before, multiplies in line with computer processing power and
research. With time there have been projects and publications, social movements and
natural disasters that have given visibility, personification and experience of these
‘ numbers on a list’ . There also remain contradictions – it is acceptable for government to be
modernised yet the impacts of fertilisers, dams and national unity on households,
communities and indigenous groups have rescaled dissent on development. The rise of
Non-governmental organisations has also led to their own diversification and differentiation
into community based organisations, international NGOs and towards Non Government
itself – voluntarism without the state. To this can be added the assertion of human rights
into development and international policy – calls for ‘ proper’ democracy in Uganda, the
freeing of dissidents and the settlement of Zanzibar’ s electoral impasses by threats of
withholding aid and the part played by the donor community in pushing along constitutional
reforms in Kenya. Comprador development is based on surveillance, co-opting civil society
and ensuring conduits of aid are disciplined to act judiciously.

Development practice has been displayed to the public of industrialised countries through
scheduled broadcast images and now narrowcast images on demand. These are delivered
over some of the same satellite connections which have been used by development
agencies in remote locations to co-ordinate humanitarian relief and by banks to transfer
funds. A greater amount of information is transported around connecting points and
interfaces. This current – information validated by time and with a cultural or commercial
best-before date – moves in established patterns. It delivers disasters to prime time news,
financial information while the markets are open3, card transactions as they happen and

And it now appears they will, like petrol stations, be staffed around the clock both to provide a presence in
case of an ‘event’ and to take in the small money
sports scores as each line is crossed. Analysis and theory lag far behind gossip and
rumour while commentary fills the gap.

World systems versus globalisation

Theories of globalisation, and often they can only be linked by the use of this term, are the
pole around which past paradigms are circling. Much of what has been written in the last
two chapters processes the histories of gradual globalising forces in East Africa and the
ways in which they have been theorised. However, the globalisation debate is both integral
and a sideline to the analysis of communication networks. It is integral at the level of what
Giddens calls distanciation – remote players exercising their agency over greater reaches
of space – and instantiation4 – the acceleration of these interactions. It is a sideline
because globalisation has become a self-reinforcing concept sold to institutions seduced by
the possibility of worldwide operation and wary of the threats of competition from every
corner. It is in fact a two way process that has worked well for corporations such as
Microsoft through their sales and outsourcing. It has worked badly for overstretched players
such as emerging markets investors in south-east Asia and for satellite telephone
operators like Iridium5.

The term was jumped upon because it allowed the social sciences to revisit world systems
theory without ‘ jumping into bed with’ either Andre Gunter Frank’ s or Immanual
Wallerstein’ s painfully detailed economic theories of international connections. Robertson
firmly placed culture6 at the centre of an easily grasped stages theory of world integration.
His historical periodisation of globalisation moves away from rooted Marxist conceptions of
the stateless global capitalist system and the globalised texts of ‘ Manifesto’ and ‘ Capital’
and explicitly identifies the nation state as a globalising model. He takes the lines of
modernisation, enlightenment and progress and stretched them across the last half of the
second millennium adding the dimension of global space. In the formulation he places the
Germinal Phase in the period of the enlightenment/renaissance and its growing spatial
awareness and colonialism. The Incipient Phase suffixes this period with the rise of the
nation state, citizenship, ideas of nationalism and internationalism together with non-
European participation in international bodies. The Take-Off Phase, from around 1850 To
1920 saw the consolidation of international communications networks, mass international
migrations, the first world war and the conceptualisation of the world in the form of the
nation state, the individual, a single international society and a single humanity. The
Struggle for Hegemony Phase incorporates the formation of international bodies, the
Second World War and Cold War followed by decolonisation and the atomic age while the
Uncertainty Phase represents the post-modern era of space conquest and the
contemporary zeitgeist. East Africa fits the last three of these stages although they read a
little like a horoscope.

Robertson draws spatial borders around many of the integrating movements and forces of
international unities, trading partnerships and regimes of control. In his focus on the
development of nation states he sees them as formative components of an ‘ institutionalised
This term is also used in the writing of computer code for closely defining objects by substituting variables
Presently in receivership
For a preliminary sketch see Robertson R and Lechner F (1985) 'Modernisation, Globalisation and the
Problem of Culture in World-Systems Theory' in Theory, Culture and Society Vol.2, No.3, 1985, pp.103-117
societalism’ . They were crucial models of economic and political integration that spread
and forced a faster pace of globalisation over the last hundred years. Nation states helped
formulate procedures for the negotiation of conflict and co-operation through their operation
as apparatuses of economic and political ambition, conquest and expansion. It was this
process of mimesis that forced the destruction of empires by versions of their own models
of nationalism. The ideas of diplomatic and international negotiation spread similarly. A
superficial global homogeneity signified by the flag, the national anthem and participation in
global politics, sport and economic institutions was in full bloom by the 1960s.

Robertson’ s components of ‘ institutionalised societalism’ , the state as negotiator and the

forces of economic ambition and international economic membership appear similar to
Kuznets' expression of state agency. Giddens takes a different position and sees four
dimensions of modernity that have been intrinsic to the positioning of the nation state:
capitalism as a system of commodity production involving competitive markets for both
goods and labour power, surveillance as a medium of administrative power controlling
information, military order as the control of the means of violence and industrialism as the
use of inanimate sources of energy in production conjoined to the central role of machinery
in the production process7. These concepts, like most of his work, borrow heavily from
thinkers such as Weber, Huntingdon and Foucault without much acknowledgement but are
welded together in a seductively coherent form. They cover the building blocks of
international relations and at the same time offer both a deconstruction of the
modernisation streak of development and its practice with a fatter description of the
triangulation of the state in the ‘ longue durée’ .

Giddens’ analytical tools of distanciation-instantiation also demarcate the operation of

extended global links. These fall into the widely accepted bracket of time-space
compression which has up to now been a flimsy descriptive discourse. However, Giddens
analysis holds most of the particularities of changes in time-space and globalisation. His
theoretical components were helpfully summarised and analysed in two articles, one by
Jary8 and one by Urry9 which fairly present the detail and scope of his theoretical writing on
both. He arranges three dynamic properties which are valuable in the disentanglement of
information flows and current and would include actors and networks, to use a fashionable
term, of both public and proprietary information systems. As Giddens himself records, they

Separation of time and space: The condition for the articulation of social relations
across wide spans of time-space, up to and including global systems.
Disembedding systems: Consisting of symbolic tokens and expert systems (or
collectively, abstract systems). Disembedding mechanisms that separate interaction
from the particularities of locales.

Giddens (1991b): ‘Structuration theory: Past, present and future’ in Bryant CGA and Jary D (1991)(eds)
Giddens’ theory of structuration: A critical appreciation Routledge, London pp201-221, these parts from
Jary D (1991) ‘Society as time-traveller: Giddens on historical change, historical materialism and the nation-
state in world society’ in Bryant CGA and Jary D (1991)(eds) Giddens’ theory of structuration: A critical
appreciation Routledge, London pp116-159
Urry J (1991) ‘Time and space in Giddens’ social theory’ in Bryant CGA and Jary D (1991)(eds) Giddens’
theory of structuration: A critical appreciation Routledge, London pp160-176
Institutional reflexivity: The regularised use of knowledge about circumstances of social
life as a constitutive element in its organisation and transformation.10

The first four dimensions cross-cut by the three dynamic properties give plenty of scope for
analysis yet do not cover the full scope of Giddens arrangement of globalising processes. I
am identifying seven elements of time-geographies, indexed by Urry, as a third layer of
analysis which extend the vocabulary and utility of the dynamic of separation of time and

Locale is the setting where an interaction occurs and contextuality is specified

Regionalisation is the zoning of time-space in relation to routinised social practices
Presence-availability Signifies the degree of co-presence
Front regions- is a formulation of enclosure and disclosure over space and the axes of
Back regions ‘ openings’
Time-space is the stretching of relationships over distance
Time-space edges are forms of contact or encounter between types of society organised
according to different structural principles
Power containers are structures of social memory, knowledge and power crucibles. From states
to professions to databases.

Presented with the breadth of these analytical categories and tools of an integrated
approach there is a striking array of labels to hang on each unit of focus. Giddens’
categorisations have taken into account the disjuncture of ‘ the separation of media of
communication, by the development of electronic signalling, from the media of
transportation … - the mobility of the human body’ 11 and offer great relevance to the
research. The concept of locale is vague yet generic and the term regionalisation collides
with my synonym for African and East African initiatives. They remain alluring delineations
between larger categories, not necessarily grounded in space-time, but reach into that
domain as in ‘ development space’ 12 for locale: seasonality, pastoralism/cultivation and the
rural-urban divide for regionalism. Of great importance are the three concepts I group
together as aspects of the communications and development interface between local and
international actors: Presence-availability, front regions-back regions and time space
edges. These seem to grasp the nettle of spatial analysis 13 yet introduce more subtle
demarcations than ‘ frontiers’ and ‘ diffusion’ . This allows a nuanced examination of
telecommunications interactions in a region – East Africa – and also in development space.
For instance a telecentre represents both diffusion of technology and an information frontier
yet in the Giddens idiom it is a shifting locale of presence and availability between the
community, the connected, international agencies and technicians. It is a model of front
regions and back regions with a tangible fulcrum of the graphical user interface and the

Giddens1991: 20-21
Giddens A (1985) ‘Time, space and regionalisation’ in Gregory D and Urry J (1985) (eds) Social relations and
spatial structures Macmillan, London p276
see Mabogunje AL (1980) The development process: A spatial perspective Hutchinson University Library for
Africa, US pp250-252, Kanyinga K (1995) ‘The politics of development space in Kenya: State and voluntary
services in the delivery of basic services’ in Semboja J and Therkildsen O (1995) (eds) Service provision under
stress in East Africa’ Fountain Publishers, Kampala pp70-86
see Gould PR (1970) Tanzania 1920-1963: ‘The spatial impress of the modernisation process’ World
Politics Vol. 22; Soja EW (1968) The geography of modernisation in Kenya: A spatial analysis of social,
economic and political change Syracuse Press; Witthuhn BO (1968) ‘The spatial integration of Uganda as
shown by the diffusion of postal agencies’ 1900-1965 East Lakes Geographer Vol.4 pp5-25
larger interface of the telecentre itself, perched on the time-space edges of the Internet
world, and local literacies and survival strategies.

Telecommunications theory
Theories that encompass all of the concepts thrown up by the digital and packet revolution
surpass the generalisations of globalisation theory. In relation to development theory
however they have to be to be twisted into alignment with its measurement and economy.
This tendency towards positivism is replicated in studies of telecommunications which are
overly concerned with equations of communication above the experience of users.
Metatheory owes a part of its content to the work of Janelle on time-space compression
and space adjusting technologies. His work allowed quantitative and empirical work to look
up from vectors and grids and express the equations of human extension and
communications concentration that had driven social scientists from Marx to Lefebvre. This
stab at high theory was quickly subjugated by a return to the ‘ point A to point B’ mapping
and processing of relative space where ‘ geographic information science’ assesses social
topologies rather than working with people.1 On the ground development
telecommunications and country case studies remain thin, plotted by numbers and without
multidisciplinary engagement2. It is only recently that a number of studies in the form of
papers put out by international agencies have started to fill in local case-studies where the
literatures had been bereft of experience.3 Theory has taken two paths in general: the unity
of flows and world city poles, and the dialectics/FAT binaries of hot-cold and dead-live.

There are two ideas that bridge some of the gaps between the inadequacies of
dependency theory and the flow analyses of geographies of modernisation. First is the
model of the ‘ phantom state’ , that is an emergent form of financial control and offers a view
of the latest stage of what was known as monopoly capitalism. Second is the zoning of
social activity by dead-live and wild-tame. Theories of flows are particularly amorphous and
reflect all the incongruities of ‘ the medium is the message’ with the addition of a vector –
direction and speed. It is the addition of the technical that allows mechanical processes to
be enumerated by other technical and statistical mechanisms. The impetus for many of the
modernisation studies was the availability of electronic computing equipment. In a changed
world these calculations can be carried out far better and quicker on a palmtop computer.
Flows of computer data over a global network are checked off by type, protocol, starting
point and destination. There is the medium, there is the vector, however the message
contents can only be guessed at in a healthy ethical climate. Strong surveillance or detailed

A good example of this massive datacentricity has been Janelle’s work with the US National Center for
Geographic Information and Analysis’ Varenius Project where ‘ specialists’ are looking at ‘ potential and realized
interaction and accessibility’. This will be achieved, ‘ By helping to reconceptualize accessibility through
appropriate representations of accessibility opportunity and inequality’ through ‘ expanded models of space (and
time) that encompass both the physical and the virtual’ i.e. The map is the territory.
see for instance Janelle’s statistical joy-ride, Janelle DG (1991) ‘Global interdependence and its
consequences’ in Brunn SD and Leinbach TR (1991) Collapsing space and time Harper Collins, London pp49-
81 Also in this statistical, pointless and hopelessly out of date vein is Mansell R and Wehn U (1998)
Knowledge societies: Information technology for sustainable development, download it for free at
Most of these remain in electronic form and the best sites are,, and
research requires immense computing resources and configuration1 that absolutely require
secondary data – conventional authoritative records or historical patterns. This reduces
flow to a pejorative concept, unsupportable in a research environment that can only allow
restrictive sampling, grasping only a thin and flimsy section of meaning.

The concept of current helps sub-divide flows into two time-spaced constituents. The first is
related to changes introduced in Internet2/Ipng/IPv6 which will use technical co-ordinates
to divide ‘ flow’ by prioritising current – immediate and co-present communications – over
electronic mail. This is discussed further in Chapter 5 but shows that Internet Protocol as it
stands (IPv4) has problems mixing ‘ bursty’ traffic such as email with streamed traffic such
as video and multimedia. Flow is therefore not end-to-end but a product of multiplexed
carrier media, not socially determined but technically determined.

Secondly, current also represents a deeper layer of exchange – historically conditioned

patterns of communication. Electronic mail and telephone traffic patterns will give
indications of this international information transport in chapters five, six and seven. The
currents are based on their movement from hot to cold with incoming developing country
traffic larger in volume and duration than outgoing African communications. This is
symptomatic of the cost advantages, technological supremacy and power containers in the
western transformers. The imbalance is accounted in telephone call settlement charges
while data circuits are configured and costed in alignment with this skewness.

Technical lexicon
This technical level runs through global formations but remains largely unincorporated in
any constructions of global thinking in the social sciences. Structures that form and are re-
formed through historical and spatial interplay between the human mechanisms of
distanced exchange are often the creation of technical specification. These links and
consequent initiations, adoptions and adaptations of electronic information flows can be
seen in the metatheory of producing space1 and by situating this theory in the
contemporary2 but are only grounded in the specified analyses of geographies and political
economies of telecommunications without the social component.3 An agenda for mapping
the causes, flows and consequences of telecommunications networks must take from each
of these approaches but the structure of contemporary global telecommunications is
altogether more complex and hidden.

Configurations of technology emphasise junctions in space where control is exercised.

Abler sees the junctures between points and ‘ flows’ starting from the establishment of links
through the provision of access to the influence of use. ‘ Telecommunications links provide
a potential for communication. Nodes provide access to that potential. Flows of messages
among places reflect the degree to which that potential is realised, and fluctuations reveal
how communications patterns among places change from time to time’ .4 The return to
approximations of this manner: communication potential, pattern and fluctuation have been

Usually a proxy server
Lefebvre 1991
Harvey 1990
Reference is made to this argument in the methodology chapter
Abler 1991:35
shown in the work of Thrift, Luke and Castells they signal a change in fixed geographical
points of control and ‘ there is a shift, in fact, away from the centrality of the organisational
unit to the network of information and decision. In other words, flows rather than
organisations, become the units of work, decision and output accounting’ 5

Both Urry and Thrift perceive quickening and more pervasive globalising forces influencing
units of change. The elements of the critique of imperialism remain: those of interrelation of
finance capital and the nation state. They are welded by ideas of negotiating distance
through digital transport. They still focus on economic spaces. For Thrift the emergent
‘ phantom state’ of the New International Financial System collected from the nation state,
media, money capitalists and machines is partly ‘ based in the flow of communication itself’
and ‘ money power and communicative power have been able to replace state authority
based on administrative power with a discursive authority which is based in electronic
networks and particular “ world cities” ‘ 6 Here we have three concepts. First is the idea that
flows themselves create a tangible space for interaction. Next is the reduction in the role of
the nation state in changed and global markets based on the greater flexibility of money as
information over global information networks. Finally there is the idea of an alliance
between technologies of mobility and a global money elite in the setting of global cities as
power brokering urban hubs with multinational significance. Although I do not accept the
concept of flows as an analytical unit it can be readily chopped up if the network, the carrier
and the protocol are extracted from the equation. These components show agency and the
actual rather than the virtual antecedents of information exchange. Again these will be fully
investigated in Chapter 5.

The overarching explanation of an economically determining superstructure has been

reworked into spatial theory. In ways this is a return to the pure arguments of Marx’ s
globalising bourgeoisie with the telegraph and train replaced by interlinked databases and
computerised knowledge systems. Base and superstructure have been replaced, if you will
have it, as terminal and infrastructure. The phantom state/spectre of capitalism model
highlights global cities-world cities as poles, hubs and nodes7 that represent interests
beyond the nation-state and that share compositional characteristics as interfaces between
global-local, modern-traditional and new-old feudal relations but ultimately tied to that
construction through space and history8. Echoing dependency criticisms, it seems that
centre-periphery power-space relations are neglected for the pattern of a pre-eminent
urban formation that is constructed by and operates within global flows over and above
local interactions. Thrift is concentrating on the interchange between hubs with a high
degree of economic activity and the ‘ hum of the wires’ which reveals intensive exchange
rather than the ‘ cries of the market’ .

Reformulated poles
City states such as Hong Kong and Singapore expanded and contracted again as hubs on
the isthmus of the Third World and landing and disembarking global traffic, trade and

Castells 1989:142, also quoted in Luke 1995
Thrift N (1996) Spatial formations Sage, London p253
King AD (1990) Global cities: Post-imperialism and the internationalisation of London Routledge, London p39
King AD (1995) ‘The times and spaces of modernity (or who needs postmodernism?)’ in Featherstone M et al
(1995)(eds) Global modernities Sage, London pp108-123 this bit p121
finances. The cities of London, Tokyo and New York have served longer as actors in such
configurations and are true centres in the world city/global city pattern. This brokerage
formation also scales down to the regional city of Nairobi which arbitrates regional,
international and global flows and acts as a multilayered communications hub where the
cumpridor tendency of state authority is low and much control is outside of democratic
power structures. This is the centre of an economic periphery with poorer information
infrastructures overall. The synthesis of the argument must therefore be brought down to a
more local level where global cities interact with regional cities that interact in a more
recognisable geographic locality. Power over global finance and electronic communications
is negotiated within structures of co-operation and non-co-operation with the inter-national
while flows at the national and the local level are differently time-spaced.

Regional crises have built up Nairobi’ s already dominant position as a pole for international
transactions in the East Africa region. The anarchy of Uganda followed by similar civil
conflicts in Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia; Ethiopia’ s transitions between globally
significant famines; Tanzania’ s experiments with state socialism throughout the cold war;
These have all taken from these nation-states and Nairobi has layered transformations in
its rôle as centre of conflict resolution and marshalling yard for relief supplies. All the while
it has become host to the global presences of regional diplomatic representation, the
United Nations, international aid finance and TNCs. Simon9 adds the significance of
international tourism and the role of regional airport hub to the analysis. Leys pulls no
punches when he describes the founding of ‘ regional’ offices in Nairobi to avoid work
permits and to take advantage of a poorly enforced taxation system through transfer

Recent evidence has been presented in the Financial Times11 from a UNDP report which
quantifies the contribution of the United Nations presence in Gigiri to the Kenyan economy.
The UN is ‘ second only to tea as a source of foreign exchange’ and ‘ relief supplies for a
significant proportion of the port of Mombasa’ s business. In all its presence adds up to a
net inflow of US$350 million per year which translates as 3% of GDP or 19% of export
earnings. Clearly this is an ethical investor that the government should not want to rile as
much as it has and it places Nairobi at the centre of a regional humanitarian economy.

Regional cities in sub Saharan Africa are slowly building up significant communications
capacity but remain peripheral in technical terms, they are global but not immediate actors.
This peripherality is keenly felt in telecommunications with the majority of international
traffic routed through ‘ true’ global cities. The position of Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and
Kampala as satellite-peripheries is examined, outlined and proven in Chapter 6.

New Dependency
The next formation of centre-peripheral relations can be looked at in this same
technological formulation. Urry takes lines of divisions and unities constructed through
communications. He is more circumspect on national and international formations but in the
Simon D (1992) Cities, capital and development: African cities in the world economy Belhaven, London
Leys C (1975) Underdevelopment in Kenya: The political economy of neo-colonialism 1964-71 Heinemann,
London pp124-128
Turner M (2000) ‘UN presence keeps Kenyan economy afloat’ Financial Times 15/16th January 2000
context of internal and external forces of decentralisation combined within a more powerful
middle class1 ‘ it is hard to see why the organisation of time and space means that the
nation-state will remain as the dominant power container in disorganised capitalist
societies’ 2 Urry instead takes Luke’ s formulation of wild and tame regions3 and adds the
binary of live and dead zones. This is rooted in the idea of flows and an emphasis on the
influence of exchange in the construction of hubs, poles and difference within disorganised
capitalisms. It is the reintroduction of centre-periphery relations classed by activity and risk.
The geographical zonings of wild and tame represent safety, surveillance and control, while
live and dead are configured by the level of activity and connectedness: technological

live and tame: advanced consumer/ producer services, the ‘ cybergeoisie’ working in a
smart building, safe suburbs where people have broadly stable identities; visit enclavic
leisure spaces
live and wild: cultural capital fraction, inner cities with identity experimentation, less safe
leisure spaces, alternative tourism and the cosmopolitan valuation of hybridity
dead and wild: excluded from most of the flows except that of narcotics; areas of the
so-called underclass; little leisure travel outside such zones; little sense of a work-
leisure distinction.
dead and tame: excluded from the flows but living in secure environments, as in
‘ Fortress LA’ or British small towns or parts of the countryside; leisure in safe enclaves,
defined spatially or temporally.4

In geographically complex pockmarks of affluence, ties and change where the life
expectancy in Harlem is lower than that of Uganda there must be an economic divide
overlying Urry’ s post-dependency formulation. However he sees inequality in flows or non-
flows where, ‘ Forms of mobility, travel, electronic information, media images, signs, and so
on, thus generate new inequalities, what we might refer to as ‘ inequalities of mobility’ as
opposed to the social and place-based inequalities of the past.5

This plots fronts of data disparities but somewhat lobotomises traditional geographically
based concepts such as ‘ the South’ and even ‘ South-central LA’ . There is no explicit
investigation of these barriers to communication potential as the analysis stops here.
However there are signposts to a more thorough investigation of flows and zoning in
industrialising countries and in information networks. Four frontiers of time-spaced, cultural,
economic and structural limits fence-in the dead/tame, dead/wild zones of Urry and the wild
and tame zones of Luke’ s glocal spaces.

First, time-spaced barriers to access are those of actual technical capacity and
infrastructure. The points of entry to global information capacity are technically determined

This may conflict with the trend of ‘disintermediation’ where the middle ‘men’ are displaced from transactions
by telecommunications and computer technology. It does however offer some type of repositioning of
professions around computer literacy and has occurred relatively slowly (compared to changes in
hardware/software/systems) at least in developed countries
Urry 1991:175
Luke T (1995) ‘New world order or neo-world order: Power, politics and ideology in informationalizing
glocalities’ in Featherstone M et al (eds)(1995) Global modernities Sage, London pp91-107; quoted pp100-
This section from Urry J (1995) Economies of signs and multiple spaces Paper presented at a conference on
Urban Change and Conflict, London, September 1995 p5
through telecommunications infrastructure and reliable supply of electrical power together
with the connectability of data exchange apparatus – telephones, faxes, modems and
routers. Second are the literacies and habits of communication such as familiarity with
technology, interfaces and the social participation in remote interactions. Third are the cost
barriers that operate at a personal, local and regional level and interact with time-spaced
technologies. It is possible to have full Internet access in the deadest wildest zone based
on batteries and satellite technology but it is beyond all but UN agencies or mineral
exploration enterprises. Last are the structuring effects and the grouping of spatial and
social regions. This creates divisions based on information potential or reinforces already
existing stratification and grouping. Access can depend on largesse or cross-subsidy and a
public provision of communications can be limited to mail or, at another level, a public
telephone booth.

The medium has served as a channel of protest in its infancy and helped spread
connectivity to the centre of the periphery, wild and live zones. Governments linked into
world financial networks find themselves closer to their creditors than their ‘ people’ . The
time-space edge of the Internet lies at the end of the cables. The global embrace of
instantaneous multimedia will only follow after less tangible conflicts between society,
technological spaces and the dynamics of accumulation. The globalisation of information is
significant as it operates at a greater speed than transported information and the
movement of people. It is here that Hirst and Thompson6 draw the line on the powers of
nationstate and in the dialogue of mobility. Physical frontiers remain the mark of its agency
and, ‘ it remains a controller of its borders and the people the movement of people across
them. Apart from a ‘ club-class’ of internationally mobile, highly skilled professionals, and
the desperate, poor migrants and refugees who will suffer almost any hardship to leave
intolerable conditions, the bulk of the world’ s populations now cannot easily move’ .7

Optimism and conclusion

These assertions have been contradicted by more optimistic critiques of global
relationships. Negroponte has claimed that, ‘ the digital world has no center, - no periphery
... Digital isolation is driven by bandwidth not location’ 1 In a more grounded manner these
arguments have been articulated by Burstein and Kline who provide this example:

‘ Indeed, a massive power shift from the center to the periphery is occurring
everywhere. Organization Man has become a consultant, thanks to technology
resources once available only to the largest enterprises. And top-down corporate
hierarchies are flattening into horizontal, decentralized networks of self-governing work
teams. But this flattening process is also crushing and marginalizing millions of once-
productive citizens. Whole strata of blue-collar and white-collar workers are being
‘ downsized’ into oblivion, their work now performed more efficiently by networked
information systems or farmed out to cheap-labor production centers in new global
markets overseas.’ 2

They highlight some of the ‘ megatrends’ of Internet connection and particularly the social
relations of new production patterns. The information economy that has infiltrated
Hirst P and Thompson B (1995) ‘Globalisation and the future of the nation state’ in Economy and Society
Vol.24 No.3 pp408-442
Hirst and Thompson 1995:420
Negroponte N (1995) Being Digital Alfred A Knopf, New York
Burstein D and Kline D (1995) Road Warriors: dreams and nightmares along the information highway Dutton ,
New York, this quote from
conventional commercial patterns over the last twenty years is removing layers of
production, management and sales ‘ intermediaries’ . At the same time it is reskilling labour
and refashioning locales of exchange dependent on rapid communication and data
processing. Kellerman sees the processes of international asymmetry, imbalance and
inequality produced in this way:

‘ Whereas the whole world may be interconnected through cheaply-priced, direct-dialling

communications systems, information producing centres emerge in the world cores, as
against areas of mere information consumption, located in the world peripheries. The status
of peripheral regions may thus deteriorate despite seeming economic development, and this
may well be considered a spatial-economic divergence process, in the sense of increasing
gaps between centres and peripheries at various geographical levels’ 3

The research will look for evidence for this divergence and especially at the level of
interconnection. East Africa is wholly dependent on satellite connections where bandwidth
and location meld into a constricted and expensive communications capacity. They are
satellite-peripheries. Internal and national mechanisms are governed by the provision of
infrastructure – phones, power and the resources to pay for them – whereby mobility,
distance and inequality are coalesced into the question of access. Santos’ pre-Internet
analysis of urban dualism describes the situation well:
‘ The concept of ‘ distance’ must be seen in a socio-economic context characterised by
the geographical situation of peripheral areas; this is not a question of physical distance
‘ per se’ but rather of access. Also there is an increased difficulty of access to private
services. These conditions imply a ‘ devaluation’ of the individual as a function of his
spatial location’ 4

These theoretical perspectives will be substantiated though an analysis of changes in

telecommunications patterns from the end of the 1980s and through the 1990s. The
primary data is a synthesis of interviews and case studies, backed up with quantitative
measures of direction and use of these means of communication. These techniques
address fundamental questions of the balances of exchange in international and regional
interaction. They give the first comprehensive picture of the form and context of electronic
mail and Internet in Africa.

Kellerman A (1993) Telecommunications and geography Belhaven Press, London p15-17
Santos M (1979) The shared space Methuen, London pp159-160
Chapter Four

Research parameters
The study area has been restricted to East Africa and its realised electronic connections.
The timeframe has included a history of telegraph and wireless communications from the
first cabling of Africa in the 1880s to reflect colonial and post-colonial differences. These
secondary sources helped shape issues for primary research and fieldwork which have
been anchored in the contemporary interaction of electronic mail, users and networks.
There is full coverage of research issues until 1998 and these include greater detail on
local regulation and less on the underdeveloped initiatives for rural connectivity.

The fieldwork aimed to outline the distinctions between public and private communications
networks and infrastructure and their operational reach and limitations. Charities and
international agencies provided data and interviews freely. Multinational corporations,
because of privacy and security considerations, were reluctant to state fully their plans and
objectives while unwilling to provide new data. In other words there is little quantitative data
available on private networks, their intranets, groupware or other infrastructure. In this case
research is indicative though solid and outlines the limits of useful enquiry.

Technological scoping favoured electronic mail to the world wide web. Email offers a set of
complete historical data within the possibilities of conventional analysis of point to point
communications. The world wide web has not reached full maturity and its applications,
components and technologies have not settled. The logging of web transactions is complex
and subsequent analysis presents more technical difficulties. Given these difficulties and
the short historical sample, it can only support a limited and qualitative investigation.
However similar data such as telephone, telex and telegraph traffic both show the
substitution and complimentary effects of other point to point telecommunications. In this
case they can add valuable insights into the development of electronic mail traffic and use.

Choice of techniques
The research takes a multiple methods approach where ‘ a number of complementary
methods are employed to address different facets of a research question, or to address the
same question from different perspectives’ 5. It crosses quantitative and qualitative divides
to provide a full picture of a research area characterised not only by the common purpose
of actors and homogenous technologies, but also by the priorities of three nations and
manifest divisions between those who have access to telecommunications and those who
do not.

Adorno states that the ‘ … opposition of quantitative and qualitative analysis is not an
absolute one; it finds no ultimate support in the subject-matter itself. It is well known that, in
order to quantify, one has always to begin by ignoring qualitative differences between the
various elements; and every individual social phenomenon bears within itself the general
determinisms to which the quantitative generalisations apply. But the categories of the
latter are themselves qualitative.’ 6 For example, quantities of electronic mail traffic can also
represent qualities of organisational priorities yet data collection has been anonymised to
ensure privacy. Further methods are required to calibrate traffic data with service providers,
users and further to identify the entitlements of users within the general population. In East
Africa there exist profound inequalities of access to modern infrastructure and in the same
thought, Adorno states that; ‘ Society is a unity; even in areas as yet beyond the reach of its
powerful forces, there is a functional connection between the ‘ underdeveloped’ segments
and those that have advanced to a state of rationality and homogenous socialisation’ .
There are further issues of connection and disconnection within society and economy to be
addressed and that require the perspective of multiple methods.

Multiple methods
There are two methodological poles within the research, those of computer derived data
and human derived data. In between lie archive materials, official statistics and proprietary
information. To present a full picture, techniques should verify all parts of the research and
align corresponding strands of investigation. On verification, Devereux and Hoddinot
suggest that, ‘ the best way of cross-checking data is to adapt a variety of approaches to
the same issues: different questions, similar questions asked at different times, different
respondents and different methodological tools’ .1 In other words, diversity in approach will
give enough angles of insight. This does not guarantee a satisfactory arrangement of
research coverage alone and a check list of issues based on both data gathered and
methods used is required. Further, an assessment of ‘ methodological tools’ is required.

Harvey is clear that techniques of investigation in critical social research are plentiful and
include the ‘ whole gamut of research tools: observations, both participant and non-
participant; formal interviews with random samples; semi-structures, unstructured and in-
depth interviewing; key informants testimonies, analysis of personal and institutional
documents; mass media analysis; archive searching; examination of official statistics; and
Philip LJ (1998) ‘Combining quantitative and qualitative approaches to social research in human geography –
an impossible mixture?’ Environment and Planning ‘A’ Vol. 30 pp261-276, quote p264
Adorno TW (1976) ‘Sociology and empirical research’ in Connerton P, Critical Sociology, Penguin, UK pp 237-
Devereux S and Hoddinott J (1992) ‘ Issues in data collection’, in Devereux S and Hoddinott J (1992)
Fieldwork in developing countries Harvester Wheatsheaf, New York pp25-40; quote p35
reviews of published literature…’ , together with the analytic procedures of, ‘ ...ethnographic
interpretation, historical reconstruction, action research, multivariate analysis, structuralist
deconstruction and semiological analysis’ 2 This represents an eclectic choice of tools that
can be condensed into three areas: human interaction and interviewing; documentary
enquiry; and simulation. The first two are readily accepted as useful forms of inquiry
whereas the thread of simulation and matching might rest easier within a form of case

Case studies have been criticised by Morrow for their subjective and isolating approach to
larger issues.3 However the same author offers a less hostile description of ‘ qualitative
research in the conventional discourse: case study design, interpretation of action
(Verstehen) and thick description … such analysis is taken to be idiographic. In other
words, rather than attempting to make statistical generalisations concerning a limited
variables, the concern in a case study is with comprehending the rich complex of factors
that define the case at hand – be it individual, organisational or societal’ 4 This description of
case study techniques shows the immediate usefulness of the approach. In a research
situation where there is a clear intersection of statistics, published material and opinion, the
case study can offer a reconstruction of a locale and its components. Ignoring the more
esoteric elements of communicative action, it is possible to use this technique to align the
complex intersections of strands of information already mentioned. In combination with
supporting text and background, a subjective or insular approach is lost and with a net gain
in the understanding of context.

Previous studies: Expression and analysis of space

The methodology acknowledges previous studies which mapped national indicators of
modernity and communications infrastructures in East Africa, notably the work of Peter
Gould1, Burton Witthuhn2, and Edward Soja3. It also recognises the work of
telecommunications geographers such as Falk, Abler and Janelle,4 mapping and analysing
communications flows and distance on an international and global scale. Methodologically
it seeks a path between the expression and analysis of spatial data or, as Soja put it in
1968, ‘ the descriptive-cartographic approach traditional to geography and some of the new
quantitative techniques’ 5 There are two changes to note in approach to manipulating and
presenting data. Firstly, more recent dissension from the ‘ logical positivism’ 6 of a scientific
approach and secondly, the ubiquity of more powerful computing hardware and
applications and gains in computer processing power.
Harvey L (1990) Critical social research Unwin-Hyman, UK p196
See Morrow RA (1994)Critical theory and methodology Sage, London p55
Ibid., p206, author’s emphasis underlined
Gould PR (1970) 'Tanzania 1920-1963: The spatial impress of the modernisation process' World Politics Vol.
22 pp147--170
Witthuhn BO (1968) The spatial integration of Uganda as shown by the diffusion of postal agencies 1900-1965
East Lakes Geographer Vol.4 pp5-25
Soja EW (1968) The geography of modernisation in Kenya: A spatial analysis of social, economic and political
change Syracuse Press
See for instance: Abler R, Janelle DG, Philbrick A (1985) (Eds) Human geography in a shrinking world North
Scituate, US; Brunn SD and Leinbach TR (1991) Collapsing space and time Harper Collins, London; Falk T and
Abler R (1980) Intercommunications, distance and geographical theory in Geografische Annualer vol. 56 pp59-
67; Janelle DG (1968) Central-place development in a time-space framework Professional Geographer Vol. 20
Soja, 1968:V
Shepherd E (1995) Dissenting from spatial analysis Urban Geography Vol. 16, No 4, pp283-303
Space, modernisation and nation
Geographies of modernisation were directed or inspired by the work of Peter Gould at the
Pennsylvania State University in the latter part of the 1960s1. According to Gore2 ‘ The
studies, constrained by data availability, use information collected by colonial authorities,
and thus map the distribution of primary and secondary schools, health facilities, road and
railways, postal and telephone facilities, district headquarters, courts and police officers as
‘ indicators of modernity’ . In essence the three were mapping historical colonial statistics
and incorporating techniques of spatial and factor analyses. These produced stunning
images of the past which lent authenticity to innovative extrapolations of the present and

Their expressions of space produced readily identifiable maps of interconnection and

concentration. Their analysis of space was trite and overplayed3. It showed up the
inadequacies and contingencies of modernisation variables, and according to Riddell’ s4
auto-critique, ‘ … these flow theories of change have concentrated on the urban at the
expense of the rural. They have also failed to distinguish between economic growth and
development’ 5 The analyses also lacked reference to situated and informed opinion and
experience, and Soja outlines a requirement, ‘ … to expand investigations into the spatial
dimensions of human perception, attitudes, and behaviour if geographers are going to
contribute to the most rapidly growing fields of social science research’ 6 Finally the studies
relied on the overuse of weak computer technologies. Gould expressed doubts about the
sophistication of data manipulation and admitted that the, ‘ … ability to model diffusion
processes at the regional and national levels is limited, in part because of severe data
problems that were compounded, until very recently, by the lack of large and rapid
computing facilities.’ 7

There are others that lie outside of this school, notably Adams JG (1972) ‘External linkages of national
economies in West Africa’ in African Urban Notes Vol. 6, No 3 pp97-116 and therefore avoid the characteristic
watermark of extrapolation and statistical agglomeration.
Gore C (1984) Regions in question: Space, development theory and regional policy Methuen, London p115
For instance Gould describes the importance of roads in Tanzania thus: ‘ what is happening of course is that
the major cluster of modernising variables is moving closer to the single road vector, as in geographic, rather
than geometric space, modernisation in all its innovative aspects is distributed from the major sources through
the tarred arteries and laterite capillaries of the land and society, 1970:170
Riddell JB (1981) The geography of modernisation in Africa - A re-examination
Canadian geographer-Geographe Canadien Vol. 25 No.3 290-299
Riddell, 1981:290-291
Soja, 1968, 117
Abler R, Adams JS, Gould P (1971) Spatial organisation: The geographers view of the world Prentice-Hall,
USA p450
Space, telecommunications and the global
Spatial analysis also sought to dominate telecommunications geography. Falk and Abler
stated that ‘ intercommunications media (postal, telegraph, telephone, telex and advanced
computer-mediated channels)…h ave not been subjected to geographical analysis. We
know little about the alterations of distance produced by intercommunications technologies.
We know little about how such alterations have affected the routine operations of social
organisations, business firms and government agencies’ 1 Such good intentions2 share the
same methodological ground as the ‘ geographies of modernisation’ school. Quantitative
measurement forms the mode of analysis and the teleology of Haggett’ s stages of spatial
systems3 stages are a seductive form of expression for this change. Figure CA illustrates a
walk-through of measurement approaches in relation to Falk and Abler's concepts and

Figure CA Walk-through of Abler and Falk’ s

terminologies and methodologies of distance
in relation to the research issue of spatial
difference within a national context Globe distance: Measured by
counting the number of abstract
units [i.e. kilometres] of length
Conceptual approach between place

Effort distance: Measured by

counting the number of effort
units [i.e. money, time]
“ Whereas two places may consumed in moving from one
Distance paradoxes be in close proximity in
place to another
globe distance, they may be
Metaphorical distance:
far apart in terms of effort or
Measured by counting the
metaphorical distances” number of contacts between
places during a given time period
i.e. social distances equals
frequency of social contacts
among places

Research question Methodological approach

Spatial analysis method Qualitative method

Measurement of global, Balance of internal versus
Spatial Inequality effort and metaphorical external: language and cultural
Is a capital city less distant distances homogeneity; media type and
from other capital cities importance; authoritative and
than from its rural areas? allocative resources; reliability
and reach of communications

Falk and Abler, 1985:59-60
‘ Many future applications of the theory of spatial diffusion will have strong humanitarian overtones, for if we
can gain a thorough understanding of these spatio-temporal processes our ability to advise is greatly magnified’
Abler, Adams and Gould 1971:19
Haggett P (1966) Locational analysis in human geography St Martins Press, New York
The walk-through shows that there are multiple analytical approaches to be used for
spatiality. An issue thrown up by the idiom of space and quantity may be effectively
addressed by a mixed methodological approach rather than determined purely by statistical
formulae. However the research sees that net output is more readily translated when it
produces a cartographic or topological expression. The downside is a loss of resolution and
spatial analysis approaches show that themes within spatial expressions can be overtaken
by an algorithmic compression of meaning into representation. Analysis can exist outside
the visual expression of space. Instead of the image or map as a paradigm container
flanked by a text of process it can fulfil a less interiorised function. A rebalancing of method
allows relatively uninterpreted core data to be visualised while qualitative and contextual
data both support and deconstruct the likeness.

In summary, the spatial analysis methodology has been embraced by both regional and
sectoral studies, of East Africa and telecommunications respectively. This research should
pay heed to the experiences of both and similarly embrace a contextual, connected and
mixed method approach. Gould4 however states that the positivist approach as presents a
‘ backcloth’ and that, ‘ … there may be less room today in geography for that spatial tradition,
that some may even want to chop off that leg of the donkey.’ Despite that strength of
feeling the research will limit its spatial analysis and concentrate on manipulation with the
end of geographical expression in words, and figures at the expense of over-manipulation
of data to fit a cartographic format. Following on these previous methodologies it will
question the basis of official statistics and seek informed qualitative judgements of
quantitative measurements.

How images are used: Models of likeness and analysis

Haggett’ s spatial systems, show the ‘ the progressive building up of a nodal or functional
region’ in a presentation of stages of network development. Stage theories of change are
also present in the works of Marx, Rostow, W.Arthur Lewis and ‘ diffusionists’ . There are
three critical observations on this approach. First is the question of transition – the
prerequisites for articulating between stages are neither universal nor predictable. Second
are co-existing stages – dualistic situations exist where different parts of systems operate
with different dynamics or with different ratios. Third is an embedded idea of progress –
spatial change is seen to advance in a predetermined and linear fashion and there is no
account made of regression or divergence.

With these criticisms on board it is fair to say that Haggett’ s stages represent snapshots of
development rather than concrete models of progress. However they imply progressive
change, do not explain the underlying dynamics of change and are built up of
predetermined conceptual elements. New technology developments such as electronic
mail and Internet alter this 'backcloth'. The effects of these sudden changes, their
aftershocks and social implications, cannot be predicted or reliably mapped within
Haggett's model.

Gould P (1991) Dynamic structures of geographic space in Brunn and Leinbach, 1991, 3-30
Thrift and Old present an alternative based on topologies of economic space. That offer a

Figure CB
Stages in the analysis
of regional systems
Haggett 1966

wider range of comparative and co-existing representations. They state that, ‘ … the way in
which the new ways of talking about economic practices is most often summarised is
through a spatial description of one kind or another. We think it possible to argue that four
of these ‘ topological presuppositions’ currently co-exist, each of them successively more
recent, more polymorphous and less enveloping’ 1
Thrift and Old's selections offer a choice of models for spatial configurations and amplify
the eddies and whirlpools of current. Haggett's stages of spatial systems only accurately

Figure CC
Topological representations
economic space
Thrift and Olds 1996

reflect change in a single sector of telecommunications and in one locale. Both can be

Thrift N and Olds K (1996) Reconfiguring the economic in economic geography Progress in human geography
Vol. 20, No 3, pp311-337
used as methodological means of expressing space and the research will look for
conformities and disjunctures. It acknowledges the weakness of predictors and the dangers
of generalised comparison. However, the research will be enriched by the methodological
plurality allowed by freer modelling, intercomparison and likeness together with the close-
up view allowed by a strong technical grounding.

International versus national: input/output

The qualitative data presented in the research contains a lot of telecommunications traffic.
The format presented is therefore incoming and outgoing. Without compounding,
aggregating or loading statistics,1 comparisons and balances are the least subjective path
of analysis. A notional input/output method seems compatible where the units of exchange
in the data are first, countries and then, ‘ domains’ . Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ugandan
patterns of international connectivity provide regional self-reference without the need of a
constant. The form of input/output however cannot be the accountancy of national income
analyses or the double-entry of product tables,2 it is the balance of communications.
Evenness and unevenness are indicators to be carried forward and matched to cumulative
senses of imbalance, their structural accommodation and the ways they are perceived. If
telecommunications traffic is skewed then there will be supporting evidence outside the
data to be matched with these ratios.

Current studies
The research was informed of a World Bank investigation into regional connectivity
undertaken by staff of the Leland initiative. It was to collect data through a structured
survey of Internet Service Providers in Kenya and due to arrive at the end of July. A
meeting was arranged, involving postponements of appointments in Dar es Salaam and
travel from Arusha, Tanzania to Nairobi. The consultants postponed their visit with less
than 48 hours notice following the communal unrest in Likoni, near Mombasa, 300 miles
from the meeting place.

The data they intended to gather were closely guarded commercial information and
national connectivity figures. I offered an appraisal, commendation and critique of their
projected work yet after four further attempts at communication there was no reply. Their
published findings are addressed in Chapter Seven.

This is a favourite ‘technique’ of the geographies of modernisation school
See for instance Moriarty GE (1982) ‘Rapporteur’s Statement on The use of economic concepts in
communication planning practice’ in Jussawalla M and Lamberton DM (1982)(eds) Communication economics
and development Pergammon Press, New York pp323
Computers in methodology
Processing data

This research has used a personal computer equipped with a ‘ bundled’ range of software
applications as the central hardware for this research. Initially a Sun workstation was
required but has been superseded in terms of storage, speed and capacity by a standard,
off-the-shelf unit. Extra requirements have been for programming language and Internet
applications (all of which are either freeware or allow free academic use) together with
modem, a floptical drive and a surge protector.

Programming has used Perl (Practical extraction and reporting language) together with
some macro and Visual Basic script work. Such analysis as there is has used standard 32-
bit Database and Spreadsheet applications using queries, forms and statistical functions.
The methods used are described in the computer data section. A feature of the research
has been the effect of infolation that has helped and impeded research. Over the period of
study, maximum PC processor speeds have increased by 20 times, memory by 104 and
storage by 12 times1 and performance has surpassed that of the 64bit SparcRisc server
earmarked for data-processing. This has allowed faster work in the closing stages of
research yet caused many headaches. Software incompatibility between versions of the
same application prevents the easy transfer of files even between shared platforms. Hard
decisions have been made regarding the costs and benefits of upgrading hardware and
software. At the same time, external effects have changed research methods and whereas
around 20% of research was conducted on-line at the start, the proportion increased to
around 60% in the last year. Documents of international agencies are now published on-
line and for free with a time-lag of around 6 months against possibly two years for hard
copies to reach libraries. The subject matter – connectivity and Africa – also means that
there are more obscure and less accessible publications and these are often published in
an electronic format.

Electronic mail, the Internet and research

Electronic mail or email was developed from copying files over wide area networks. Three
variants: UUCP, FidoNet and SMTP2 have been used during the research for co-ordinating
and for contacting informants. The medium has presented opportunities and raised
methodological issues both due to its use, its properties and its availability. Rudy3 has
written an excellent review of electronic mail literatures. He notes Sitkin et al's analysis 4 of
its place in the suite of communication technologies and summarises their findings, stating
that, ‘ the attractiveness of a medium is determined by the medium’ s data-carrying capacity,
its symbol-carrying capacity, task contingencies (characteristics of the task in hand),
normative contingencies (cultural norms and rules within the organisation), and constraints
on the capability of a particular media to convey the message to the recipient (such as

For a £1000 computer
Unix to Unix copy, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
Rudy IA (1996) Critical review of research on electronic mail European Journal of Information Systems Vol. 4,
No 4, pp198-213
Sitkin SB Sutcliffe KM and Barrios-Choplin JR (1992) A dual-capacity model of communication media choice
in organisations Human communication research Vol. 18 No 4 563-598
Figure CD Properties of email whether the intended recipient
uses an particular medium).’ 5
@ Discussion can occur where sender and receiver do This analysis takes on board
not have to be present simultaneously in other words,
the media richness versus
@ Data can be shared more easily
social influence debate6 and
@ Individuals have time to think before replying presents organisational and
@ The technology is unintrusive institutional rationale for
@ Receiver can choose when to read/reply implementing new
@ Possible drop in face-to-face contact (through communications technology.
Thus it helps explain electronic
@ Possible information overload
@ Extra time required to type and read
mail's properties of replication7,
utility and desirability. It moves
Source: Rudy 1996:198 information fast, over distance,
within many environments and
within a seductive industry
standard. Rudy also summarises the major features of email for connected users and notes
eight, these are shown in Figure CD.

The weak points that are alluded to are characterised by human fallibility and laziness in
the construction, interface and use of computer communications technologies. The
research notes further and specific areas of potential failings of email. For instance,
electronic mail messages are often judged solely by the default information supplied to the
user: subject line and username/personal name; Messages can be lost, deleted or ignored
between when the message is sent and when a reply is composed; Messages may be
deleted from the server when they are collected providing no back-up copies; Replies may
take too much effort; Mail may be accorded a lower priority or status if it is arriving amongst
many other messages; and finally, there is a lot of unsolicited mail. Survey questionnaires
and requests for contact are included in this category along with adverts, promotions and
chain letters while the increasing stream of ‘ spam’ has affected traffic figures8

Methodological experiences with Internet and email

The research is wary of putting too much dependence on electronic communications
technologies without the resources to pay for repairs, maintenance or insurance of
computer equipment. These material considerations were also backed up by investigative
experience. Coomber’ s research into the sensitive topic of narcotics was based on
newsgroup contact followed by interviewing by electronic mail. He offers the following

‘ Using the Internet as a means to accessing samples in some way representative of

general populations is currently prevented by who has access to it and who is using it.
Moreover, even when the desired sample is of Internet users themselves significant

Sitkin et al, 1992: 202
This commenced with Daft R and Lengel RH (1986) ‘Organisational information requirements, media richness
and structural design’ in Management Science Vol.32, No.5, pp.554-571
duplication of messages, carbon copies of messages and other multipliers
Usually where a mail server is ‘hacked’ and used to distribute many thousands of mails seeking some form of
remuneration. My research computer suffered this fate a month before submission as there had been
insufficient protection installed by the system operator :( The research addressed this problem by ‘aliasing’
known spam sites and excluding them from the data
technical and operational problems remain in terms of how to ensure the population
targeted is in fact the population that responds…F or while the Internet poses
methodological problems of one kind it opens up possibilities of others: access to hard
to reach populations on sensitive topics…a cross national borders and even
continents.’ 9

He spotlights difficulties of identity, truth, verification and response which combine to

guarantee the methodological unity of contact and conduct by email. In a similar vein,
O’ Lear used electronic mail to send questionnaires to environmental groups located in the
former USSR10. Unfortunately he encountered a steep learning curve and, ‘ I learned that it
was not uncommon for groups in my sample population to have mailboxes already flooded
with various questionnaires’ 11 The question of unsolicited mail is raised here and success is
often based on using email as a compliment to face-to-face communications together with
previously established contacts. He did not fail completely however and notes that,
‘ Responses to my questionnaire, although few, helped me to develop my fieldwork
project.’ 12

The research piloted a web-base questionnaire, shown in Appendix 2, at the 1996 AITEC
computer exhibitions in Kampala and Nairobi. It was flagged from the homepages of two
networking organisations13 and would automatically send me an email detailing the results.
There have been no replies in three years. One further example is provided by a
contemporary researcher into email and Internet technologies in East Africa which justifies
avoiding entirely any form of anonymous questioning in electronic research. Ellen Kole of
the University of Amsterdam had this experience with an email survey:

‘ Unfortunately, I did not receive a single answer on the in-depth interviews. One woman
did answer the questions, but the answers were lost in electronic mail traffic and she
had not made a copy. I was unable to mail the in-depth questions to another
respondent before the data collection deadline, because her email connection was
down (i.e., not functioning properly or not functioning at all) for three weeks. A third
person withdrew her participation due to other priorities. The questionnaire showed a
low response figure too. Only 8 out of a total of 151 copies returned, one of them
months after the deadline. Of the 95 electronic copies, 25 returned with the message
‘ host unknown’ or ‘ user unknown’ 14

The issue of distance in research remains fairly insurmountable where electronic mail
persists as a luxury, emergency or prioritised means of communication. Methodologically it
rules out a reliance on these tools for remote interviewing, except in agreed circumstances.
For survey work, if there are to be statistically significant, verifiable and repeatable results,
there must again be agreement or targeting of reliable respondents. Reliability can only be
fairly judged through persistent contact.

Newsgroups and mailing lists

There is one area where response is guaranteed and the response is subject to
verification. Newsgroups or mailing lists of specialists will respond to appropriately phrased
Coomber R (1997) Using the Internet for survey research Sociological research online Vol. 2, No 2 p14-23
O’Lear SRM (1996) Using Electronic mail surveys for geographic research: Lessons from a survey of Russian
environmentalists Professional Geographer Vol. 48, No 2, pp 209-217
O’Lear, 1996:215
O’Lear, 1996: 216
Which I designed and coded and where the link was very prominent.
queries. The East African Internet Association is one such organisation and has existed,
virtually as a mailing list, for five years. For instance a query over the progress of the pan –
African fibre optic network, Africa One elicited three responses. These included one
comment, one factual answer and a further issues-based opinion. Other newsgroups such
as the Afro-Nets health list, the Afrika-IT list and the African Development Forum (ADF) list
have also been used an analysed for research purposes. As fora, if not overused or
assailed by unreasonable demands, they produce consideration of research issues.
Furthermore, if a mailing list contains a number of experts based around the world there
are global insights from sectors such as aid, Internet service, wireless communications,
NGOs and government. The research notes its importance as an organisation and locale.

Ethics, Privacy and Anonymity

Central to the quantitative research methodology are issues of privacy. There is a
coincidence of both ethical and legal issues in the collection and manipulation of sensitive
data containing personal information. Intended datasets to be analysed include billing
records for user profiles and electronic mail logs to identify direction and size of traffic. In
an ethical sense the issue is whether it is generally acceptable to users and service
providers to analyse locations, movements and communications of individuals and
organisations. Will it offend their wishes and desires and should they be informed of these
investigations? In a legal sense, will this research infringe the human rights or right to
privacy of what the European Community calls ‘ data subjects’ 15?

First the research has to draw distinctions between types of computer mediated data, the
configuration of personal information involved, and their relationships to an idea of privacy.
Legal texts offer the most inclusive literatures in this area and are those which both offer
comparisons and cover all forms of data. The academic and human rights perspectives
however focus issue by issue. Academic texts in the cultural idiom are bereft of technical,
policy or methodological perspectives16 whereas the management science perspective
offers a richer source of analysis. They concentrate on electronic mail message content
rather than indicative user/billing and log data. Their work will be discussed below.

Human rights pressure groups rely on a virtual presence 17 and concentrate on privacy for
electronic mail message content, web site visitor logging, electronic purchases and junk
email (spamming). The current state of the art however is the active espousal of standard
practice and a corporate privacy policy for online information arbitrage. This is being
conducted by the organisation, TRUSTe. Current best practice and examples will both be
discussed below.

‘ an identified or identifiable natural person; an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or
indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical,
physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity’ Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and
of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data
and on the free movement of such data
For instance Mark Poster’s work: Poster M (1995) The second media age Polity, Cambridge, UK
For example; The Electronic Freedom Foundation, Privacy International, Electronic Privacy Information
Center, The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the Internet Privacy Coalition are substantially represented in an
online format
In summary there are few models of methodological approaches to ethical issues in
electronic communication. It has been the wording of the law that has acted as the best
guide for this research. It has been designed to operate within the boundaries of UK and
EC law as it stood in 1995. These rules offer a positive affirmation of its legality and
compliance with continent-wide human rights norms. At the same time it has to pay heed to
legal semantics.

Legislation and directives

The Data Protection Act 1984
The first methodological question is whether data gathered and held has to anonymised
before it is further processed. This would limit research to the machine on which data is
stored and imply authorisation for direct access to Internet Service Providers’ systems. In
this case there are two stages first there needs to be clarification that electronic data –
users names and home addresses, their email identities and transactions – are in fact
personal data. Second, it needs to conform to regulations regarding personal data if it is

Personal data
For the first part, the UK Home Office1 offers a recent clarification of the position on
personal data. It cites 'personal data' as excluding anonymous information to which
identifiers are unlikely to be capable of being attached. It demonstrates its case further by
indicating that where a person holds data which are to him anonymous and does not hold
complementary information which might help to identify the people concerned, the mere
existence of such information elsewhere should not make the data personal within the
meaning of the [more recent European Community 95/46/EC] Directive. There must be a
reasonable likelihood of the two pieces of information being brought together. In other
words the research will certainly engage with personal data and datasets that offer mutual
verification, virtual identities and real identities.

Personal data regulations

The issues remaining are threefold: whether the personal data sought for processing can
be gathered without the permission of the data subjects; whether the results can be
published in the intended, anonymised, format; and to what extent must data be protected
while the research is undertaken.

For this second part, United Kingdom legislation covering data acquisition, storage and
manipulation is The Data Protection Act, 1984. The 1984 Act was implemented before the
advent of a recognisable Internet and has recently been superseded by the Data Protection
Act 1998 but it has been in force for the majority of the duration of research.

Data Protection: The Government's Proposals, July 1997, HMSO
According to Chapter 35, Part IV, Section 33 (Domestic and other limited purposes),
Subsection 6, this research is first, legal and second, exempt from the full restrictions of
registering and notifying the national data registrar of the existence and use of data. This
width of use is applicable on the grounds that firstly, personal data is held only for
preparing statistics or carrying out research. Secondly, investigations and analysis are
exempt from the subject access provisions; but it shall be a condition of that exemption that
the data are not used or disclosed for any other purpose and that the resulting statistics or
the results of the research are not made available in a form which identifies the data
subjects or any of them. According to subsection 4, this holds true even if there is any
disclosure… if the data user shows that he had taken such care to prevent it as in all the
circumstances was reasonably required.1In accordance with UK regulations, the following
ethical policy in Figure CE, conforms completely to the law.

Figure CE
Statement of research ethics

General data collection and sorting

All data will be depersonalised for publication unless the expressed permission of the
individual is given.

Data will not be shared between commercial institutions and will be published as combined
statistical materials. The specific wishes of the organisation will be solicited and respected.

Official sources will be isolated from commercial and private data sources. All data will be
available for verification in research council reports.

Special Provisions for Electronic Data

All data will be processed and depersonalised according to specifications agreed with the

Data will be stored and processed in secure and passworded areas. They will be under the
sole control of the researcher as determined by the wider statement of ethics.

UK Government Data Protection Act 1984 HMSO
Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament 1995
European community law represents a further level of safeguards for legal and ethical
issues. Community legislation deals plainly with the same issue of research. Directive
95/46/EC, Article 11 (Information where the data have not been obtained from the data
subject), Paragraph 2, says that disclosure to the data subject of the researchers identity
and the purpose of research and the categories of data ‘ shall not apply where, in particular
for processing for statistical purposes or for the purposes of historical or scientific research,
the provision of such information proves impossible or would involve a disproportionate
effort or if recording or disclosure is expressly laid down by law. In these cases Member
States shall provide appropriate safeguards’ 2 In other words it lays down the same
obligations as UK law and at the same time acknowledges its ultimate authority.

In their analysis of the directive, Reidenburg and Schwarz note that “ Data protection rules
should not be applicable to ‘ data rendered anonymous in such a way that the data subject
is no longer identifiable’ for data protection regulation, the means of anonymising data or
hiding the original user’ s identity may be subject to different national interpretations and,
thus, impose varying obligations.” 3

The recently published guidelines to Directive 95/46/EC by the Directorate General of the
European Commission add the inflection of human rights. In answer to the question, ‘ When
can personal data be processed it outlines some exceptions and limitations?' It states that
the ‘ right to privacy may sometimes conflict with freedom of expression (freedom of
speech) and in particular as regards freedom of the press and the media. Member States
are therefore requested to establish exceptions or derogations from their data protection
provisions in order to strike a balance between these different but equally fundamental
rights……D erogations from the right to access the data may be granted for data processed
for scientific or statistical purposes’ 4

It is clear that research is exempted from the most stringent regulations of data protection.
These are applied more to commercial organisations where an obvious exploitative motive
lies. This privileged position still requires that care and responsibility are exercised in
handling personal information and in exchange a free rein is given based on a principle of
general social good. These advantages have been incorporated into the research
methodology yet there are still issues that have to be addressed for future investigations.
The answers to these lie in the most recent legislation, The Data Protection Act, 1998.

Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of
individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data
Reidenberg JR and Schwartz PM (1998)Data protection law and on-line services: Regulatory responses
Study commissioned from ARETE by Directorate General XV of the Commission of the EC, Brussels p24
European Commission DG XV (1998)Media, Information Society & Data Protection. Data Protection
Background Information Directorate General XV of the Commission of the EC, Brussels
Data Protection Act 1998
In the introduction to the act there are more pertinent regulations which impact on research
involving sensitive data, online transfer and manipulation. It offers depth rather than
reinterpretation of the rules. The following extract shows some of the new legal limits that
apply for research which, in exceed those stated in the original ethical policy.

‘ Section 33 of the Act provides for various exemptions in respect of the processing (or
further processing) of personal data for research purposes (including statistical or
historical purposes) provided that the processing (or further processing) is exclusively
for those purposes and .. that the data are not processed to support measures or
decisions relating to particular individuals, and that the data are not processed in such
a way that substantial damage or substantial distress is, or is likely to be, caused to any
data subject.’

It adds that there are few limits to manipulation and analysis and:

further processing of personal data will not be considered incompatible with the
purposes for which they were obtained. While personal data shall be obtained only for
one or more specified and lawful purposes. Personal data may be kept indefinitely
despite the fifth Data Protection Principle, and subject access does not have to be
given provided that the results of the research or any resulting statistics are not made
available in a form which identifies data subjects.5

In relation to security and the threshold of a duty of care the act confirms that double
passwording and secure storage of this research are acceptable. It states that a
researcher's ‘ exemption will not be lost just because the data are disclosed to any person,
for research purposes only; to the data subject or someone acting on their behalf; or at the
request, or with the consent, of the data subject or someone acting on their behalf’ .

In summary, the methodology used conforms to the United Kingdom laws of 1984 and
1998 together with European Community law. The ethical policy used for fieldwork is in fact
more stringent, in that it actively seeks to avoid any form of distress, confrontation or
representation of personal data.

East African situation

There are no known initiatives on data protection in East Africa. The first draft of the Kenya
Communications Act included a clause allowing state access to records of Internet users.

Current ethical practice in commercial sectors

Privacy policies and clauses are now included by many electronic mail and Internet sites
courtesy of a self-regulation initiative, TRUSTe. Developed in a partnership between online
industries and the Electronic Freedom Foundation, it is one of the first examples of current
practice that confronts the ethical issues of personal information, its collection,
manipulation and trading. This is based on verification from the ’ ...TRUSTe "trustmark," an
online branded seal’ and guarantees:

@ Privacy rules that ‘ ...embody fair information practices approved by the U.S.
Department of Commerce, Federal Trade Commission, and prominent industry-
represented organisations and associations’
UK Government An introduction to the Data Protection Act 1998 Chapter 5, Section 2.6, Research, History
and Statistics, Data Protection Registrar HMSO
@ Disclosure of ‘ … what personal information is being gathered, who is collecting it, how
the information will be used and with whom it will be shared ‘
@ To make known user control, ‘ ...regarding collection, use, and distribution of their
information… ’ offering the lowest threshold of ‘ … an opportunity to opt-out of third-party
distribution for secondary uses.’
@ To… ‘ Ensure that personal information collected online is accurate, complete, and
timely and how users can update or correct inaccuracies’
@ To ‘ Show security procedures in place’
@ A ‘ TRUSTe children's mark for Under 13s…‘ , where more stringent requirements will

Figure CF
Examples of current practice: Two TRUSTe compliant sites

UK - Surf London Privacy Policy

Maintain logs of the activities on our servers.
ask for personal information for contact purposes
personal information secure
information not disclosed to anyone outside our company without permission.

US - Wired Digital's Privacy Policy

Collect log information
Use data for targeted advertising on web banners
Log visitor's activity into analysis of general traffic flows at our sites
Merge information into group data
Anonymised information shared on an aggregated basis with advertisers
Will not disclose individual identity or personal data without permission.

These examples show that both US and British companies are moving towards information
sensitive attitudes. The British will be forced to adopt these measures under the new Data
Protection Act while the American are being pulled by self regulation. The research
interprets these changes as significant moves towards best practice by leading sectors.
Academic response will lag behind yet the research conforms to the wording and spirit of
the law.

Computer generated and computer manipulated data
Infrastructure, Users, Traffic and Internet
From the discussions above and the nature of data that is available, the disadvantages of
extrapolating data for a newly introduced and fast-changing changing technology are
obvious. Indicators are also less useful in a three-country rather than a global comparison,
they would be hard to weight and rapid movements in use and technology render them as
temporary markers. Mapping Internet connections to home addresses and looking through
the contents of electronic mail messages are also to be disregarded as they infringe
individual privacy. A more intuitive approach would use data in ways that and address the
key issues of the research:- access, global integration, and historical continuity.

In this sense a spatial baseline for connectivity must be set, data on users should be
indicative rather than personal and traffic should be manipulated to leave direction, domain
and size. The spatial baseline will be set by outlining the extent of utility connections
required for electronic communications, in this case telephone and power cables and
access. User data will classify by type of connection, town of location and sector. Traffic
analysis will isolate from-domain, to-domain and size of message. Other quantitative data
will outline the capacity and routes of Internet infrastructure.

At the beginning of this section the uniqueness of the qualitative data used in this research
should be stressed. This is based on the rarity of the material and Abler describes his
experience of obtaining such data thus:

‘ In twenty-five years of research on American telecommunications, I have been able to

obtain but two flow matrices, one for letter flows and one for telephone calls, and both
at a gross level of aggregation. For the most part, telecommunications flow data are
considered to be proprietary by those who hold them, and they are rarely released for
research purposes…T o the degree that deregulation and competition are introduced in
Europe and other areas with government telecommunications monopolies, we can
expect reduced access to flow data in those regions’ 1

These underlying structures of modernity provide electrical power for computers and
telephone lines to run an Internet connection. Most important for logging this infrastructure
is the practical note that it is easier and cheaper to be connected to utilities if they pass
through a town or village. A house or person even a few hundred kilometres removed from
the power line would be required by UEB, Tanesco or KEB to pay a representative
connection fee1 this charge would be less for a telephone line but still prohibitive.

Infrastructure mapping then focuses on settlements that are included or excluded from
utility service. Data will indicate which communities could have easy access to electronic
mail or Internet. There will be exclusions and exceptions, partly due to technical change
and partly due to changes in the institutions of utility provision. Firstly mobile telephone use
has increased and presently the proportion of subscribers compared to all telephone
subscribers is around 2% for Kenya 18% for Tanzania, and 9% for Uganda 2. Secondly,
Abler RF (1991) ‘Hardware, software and brainware’ in Brunn and Leinbach 1991, pp31-48; quote p35
In 1997 in Kenya a 1km connection cost KSh50 000 ($1000) officially. Personal communication with a
customer attempting to get connected.
Figures obtained from ITU Statistics, Telecommunications Development Indicators 1998 ITU, Geneva
laptop computing on one hand and the growing sophistication of back-up power systems
on the other have led to more spatial and temporal independence from power lines. Thirdly,
utilities themselves are being restructured according to privatisation. Projects for service
extension and improvement have influenced by international patronage through aid and
local political patronage. Also profit motivated organisations are now seeking cheaper and
less permanent means of delivering service, the prime example of this is wireless local loop
telephone technology.

Data Collection
Data was collected while all utilities were national monopolies and between April and
September 1997. All managing directors were informed by letter and institutions were
approached in order to obtain an appointment.

For Kenya data was seen as too strategic by both utilities. Limited data for electricity were
obtained from the 1995 World Bank report for the Power Rehabilitation Project. I was
offered the data required for telephone connections by an employee and for a staggering
price. This offer was refused, and spatial data published in government datasets gave
sufficient information to construct settlement based telephone service provision.

In Uganda I was able to meet with senior management and was provided with exactly what
I required. UEB supplied me with both a map of power cables and capacities and a
computer file containing this information in graphical format. UPTC were just as
accommodating and I was able to photocopy the most recent map of telephone
connections. In addition to this I was also given complete datasets for international
telephone, telex and telegraph traffic 1990-1997. These describe the numbers of calls and
messages sent between Uganda and other countries outside East Africa. East African calls
are charged at scaled rates according to distance.

In Tanzania, there was worry expressed over the security of cables following a series of,
sometimes fatal, thefts of mainline cable. I was able to obtain regional service data. At
TTCL there was no up-to-date map available. With the help of the publications department I
was able to obtain lists of all the most recent projects such as the Telecommunications
Restructuring Programme.

User data initially presented issues of privacy. The only central store of this data is with the
Service Provider and is held under the heading of billing. In other words it is notionally
stored with connection level, contact and payment information. It does not necessarily
include any information about the occupation, activities or affiliations of the user.

What became apparent within the first weeks of the fieldwork was that there was an issue
of disclosure. Service Providers were not unwilling to share location information or type of
connection information but they were reticent about the numbers of users they had. This
presented an impasse. The level of competition has risen so sharply that all Providers
found themselves in a commercial arena where their client base was under threat form
other, older and newer, players in the market. I was seeking information that might have

commercial value. In fact the whole of East Africa was experiencing a problem of
understanding the market as there was no reliable single source of figures for users – it
would require individual submissions from each ISP.

The research only solicited full details from one ISP of those approached and their identity
will remain anonymous. The sample represents around 30% of all subscribers in the
country and data reflects the historical customer base to the end of 1997. This means that
there are indications of who is using the service but this could be skewed for instance, if the
ISP offered promotions for organisations or if it favoured one economic or market sector. In
other words data could reveal the characteristics of the Service Provider rather than the
clients. However, the sample size of over 700 users will contribute to a spatially and
sectorally significant picture.

Data Collection
Personal information is the root of user data. The data is collected by Service Providers in
order to identify, contact and charge customers. It is held in a database where it is cross
referenced to traffic data to a) police online time limits b) provide helpdesk information on
service reliability and sometimes to provide itemised account details. In order to access the
information the categories needed and the means of presentation/manipulation needed to
be agreed. The underlying principle was anonymisation while retaining representative data.
In this manner users were categorised by residence, sector, institution, location and
standard of connection.

Data Manipulation
The data was amalgamated into a wide profile of all users. For instance, an international
charity based in a capital city might be international, health, NGO, Kampala, Internet email.
The difficulties of this approach are technical classification versus simplification and
pigeonholing. Another issue is that of where data was ambiguous or simply missing.
Residence was applied only where certain and the default was unknown. Sector threw up
problems of classification where the methodological balance lay between replicability of a
standard approach and categorical hair-splitting. Through practice the categories were
adjusted and it was acknowledged than one sector could be applicable. For instance, the
trade category included all import and export functions but a second categorisation by
financial, agricultural and service gave shape to differences between foreign exchange,
coffee and consumer durable retailing. Institution outlined differences in organisational
objectives: NGO, Government, Commercial while location pinpointed the contact telephone

The data comes under the heading of Telecommunication Transaction-Generated
Information as it is rather grandly put by Somarajiva.1 The essence of electronic mail traffic
data is the vector from sender and recipient which represents direction and reach. Both are
Somarajiva R (1996) ‘Surveillance by design; Public networks and the control of consumption’ in Mansell R
and Silverstone R (1996) (Eds) Communications by design: The politics of information and communication
technologies Oxford University Press, UK pp129-156. According to footnote 14, p155 the term was first used by
McManus T (1990) Telephone transaction-generated information: Rights and restrictions Harvard University
Center for Information Policy Research, Cambridge, US. However a full search could not locate this text in the
UK. Somarajiva’s description is on pp138-142.
recorded in a computer log file when an electronic mail message is received for
transmission and when it is transmitted. The sender and recipient identities are held, along
with the size of the message, time information, individual and position identifiers and
system to system instructions and transmission confirmation.

The original function of this data was to check on the workings of the email system and
stem from the days when messages were often corrupted or lost. With the advent of
reliable Internet based mail it is still used to confirm transmission to users but the advent of
extraordinary processing power has enabled it to extract more use from the information.
More recently software applications can offer user and communication profiles to check
system integrity and security, but also for marketing purposes. At the beginning of the
research none of this software was available. Communication logs were little used and this
historical data was routinely destroyed as logs filled a relatively small storage capacity.

Data Collection
The research has collected an processed electronic mail logs in two sections. The first
section covers the years 1992 to 1997 and they are FidoNet MT logs from the GreenNet
Internet gateway in London. They represent nearly all public electronic mail sent from East
Africa up to 1995, excluding only a small flow via the United Nations site in Nairobi. The
second section covers six Service Providers, two each from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda,
sent by pure SMTP Internet mail.

GreenNet logs were retained initially for the purpose of researching the possibilities of cost-
sharing – where incoming traffic volumes are greater but their costs of transfer are borne
only by the receiving system. These datasets were lying unused on GreenNet servers and
contained spatial traffic data. I asked to be able to manipulate them and consent was given
on the condition that data was anonymised and the processed logs also returned for
historic record. They were transferred directly to Royal Holloway where they have been
kept in a secure passworded environment.

East Africa electronic mail logs were obtained under similar conditions. The owners of the
data, Internet Service Providers were approached through email and then face to face
contact. They were shown the tools to be used, the procedures to be followed and the
expected output. The ethical policy underlined a commitment to privacy and security and
following agreement, logs were transferred to the UK using File Transfer Protocol and
stored in passworded areas away from direct Internet access. A second level of security
was enforced as the data was stored with passworded compression before transfer.

Responses to requests varied from hostile to guarded to silent to enthusiastic. Technicians

were the key to success as they were familiar with day to day security considerations and
the feasibility of my processing techniques while management could block referral without
consideration. Complete datasets covering 1995-1998 were preferred

Data Manipulation
Logs were processed using Perl scripts. Perl stands for practical extraction and reporting
language. The research took raw system information from the log areas of electronic mail
servers and processed them into simple incoming and outgoing information.

Figure CG
Three examples of raw logs



Date 19970604014016+0300:
Protocol SMTP Accept:
Home system Received:[]:
Remote system
Size and position 1351:3:
From <>:
To <>


Aug 11 13:01:28 swiftuganda sendmail[169]: NAA00189: from=<>,

size=1067, class=0, pri=0, nrcpts=1, msgid=<Pine.LNX.3.95.970411125800.32008D->, proto=ESMTP, []

Aug 11 13:01:43 swiftuganda sendmail[203]: NAA00169: to=sysop, delay=00:00:30,

xdelay=00:00:15, mailer=local, stat=Sent

Date Aug 18 13:08:28

System swiftuganda sendmail[169]:
Message Number NAA00169:
From from=<>,
Size size=1267,
Flags class=0, pri=0, nrcpts=1,
ID msgid= <>,
Relay/Protocol proto=ESMTP, []
Date Aug 18 13:08:43
System swiftuganda sendmail[203]:
Message Number NAA00169:
To to=sysop,
Mailtracking delay=00:00:30, xdelay=00:00:15,
mailer=local, stat=Sent


= 14:10:03 reading 444.MSG

D 14:10:03 |scanning readdress-table
$ 14:10:03 |MSG from[2:2/501] to
Rupert [5:7321/1]
D 14:10:03 |Text: 815 B
D 14:10:03 |re-writing: 444.MSG
D 14:10:03 |From us, but not local!

Time 14:10:03
Message ID 444.MSG
To (Fido 5:7321/1)
Status and Size Text: 815 B
System messages Rewriting: 444.MSG From us, but not local

Perl script walk-through

An actual Perl script is shown and annotated in Appendix One. A full description of the
process, a walk-through, shows the construction, procedures and choices made during this
programming. Three files were used. First the original log file, second a temporary core file
containing index stamped records and finally the output file. The Perl script opened the log
and core files for reading and writing respectively. It then read each line of the log file. Only
those lines containing traffic data were picked and each of these were split up into
component parts. Traffic data was retained and a marker was created from the message
identity and time sent, together with a suffix indicating if contained incoming or outgoing
data. The processed line was written to the core file and this process continued until all the
lines of the log file had been read. Both files were then closed.

The next step was to run a sort command which arranged messages by their markers and
placed incoming and outgoing lines next to each other. This created a sorted file containing
critical data. The next script opened this file for reading and a final output file. Each line
was processed: removing control characters; substituting international addresses for local
addresses; removing personal identities; concatenating incoming and outgoing data for the
same message into a single line; reducing information to three domain levels; and comma
delimiting data for both spreadsheet and database legibility.

The final output showed the following data:

Message size in bytes;
sender domain (system, institution, country);
receiver domain (system, institution, country).
Problems and process
There were four types of email servers: FidoNet; Linux; Unix; and Windows NT.
Furthermore all email servers are set up to the specifications of the system operator and
log data differs. This required an unique Perl script to be written, debugged, tested and
executed for each Service Provider. The advantages were consistent results and the
disadvantages were the sheer amount of work and time required.

The data itself gave two real programming problems. First there was the arrangement of
data. Information was in a very approximate order with system messages, failed
transmissions, sending, receiving and other information mixed up on non-consecutive lines.
This meant that, except for Windows NT, two scripts and an interim core presented a
simple procedure yet doubled processing time. Second domains are not standardised and
vary according to the choice of the service provider and to the structure of Internet
addressing protocols. For instance, CyberTwiga of Tanzania use the domain,
this indicated they are based in the United States yet there is no compulsion for them to
use a domain. At the same time, United States domains often only extend to two

domain levels. The research was seeking both geographical information and the least
intrusive information. However to differentiate between internal system traffic, local traffic
and international traffic two procedures are necessary. The first of these is to alias or
substitute international domain names to local ones where possible, for example
becomes The second of these is to include three levels of domain to distinguish
between to traffic and to traffic. This
allows the categorisation of internal system, administrative and local user to local user
traffic in one block rather than amalgamate the all into to traffic. Given the huge
amount of local messaging outlined, the final picture will not be distorted by email as the
default mode of internal communication.

The research has used innovative programming to analyse computer generated traffic logs.
At the beginning of the research period this was seldom used process yet new system
software, notably for Windows NT, together with some freeware and commercial packages
offer workable solutions. However the flexibility of Perl scripting together with the focus of
output requirements cannot yet be matched by these methods. Geographical information
has been extracted from the by-products of electronic mailing systems with a high level of
accuracy and allowing unambiguous analysis.

Human derived data

The statement of intent for qualitative data was to elicit information and opinions on the
parameters and contexts of use and policy in regional computer mediated communications
through interviews and case studies. The field of research should be mapped by examples
of first: experience and informed opinion, based on second: reasoning on choice,
implementation and practice of technology in society. Experience and informed opinion
should be inclusive; a users perspective of electronic communications, the enterprise of
service provision, and views on governing and enabling telematics.

Quantitative research had sought out figures for rates of growth, geographical spread of
use and communications patterns. A qualitative procedure would calibrate, question or
contradict these statistics. As McCracken dramatically poses it, ‘ Without these
understandings, our vision of social scientific data is monocular when it could be binocular.
Without a qualitative understanding of how culture mediates human action, we can only
know what the numbers tell us’ 1

Ethics, Social and cultural choice and preference

The ethics for qualitative data collection are less defined as those for computer-mediated
qualitative research. Broadly the research ethics cover three scenarios – the initial contact,
personal engagement and follow-up.

Initial contact
An open statement of the status of the researcher, research objectives and areas of
investigation were offered to all individuals and institutions contacted. The nature and
scope of enquiry was explicitly stated through materials offered in advance of contact.
These included; The ethical statement shown above guaranteed privacy; preview questions
were offered to interviewees.

Personal engagement
The choice of ‘ going off record’ and the option of anonymity were given. The choice of
recording by taping or note-taking given. Courtesy, sensibility to the subject’ s interaction
with subject matter yet a strong personal perspective – ‘ ...the investigator cannot fulfil
qualitative research objectives without using a broad range of his or her own experience...’ 1

Notes of taped interviews were returned in an effort to win trust while manipulated and
analysed data has been returned or released in newsgroups. A continuing relationship is
important and the generally held stereotype of a mzungu is that they will not return once
they leave. Ugandan children routinely shout ‘ Bye Mzungu!’ when they see you, an
indication of this truth. Kearl notes a similar view from a rural Kenyan interviewed in

McCracken GD (1988) The long interview Sage, California p.9
McCracken 1988:18
‘ People in the community have grown accustomed not to trust people who come from
outside. No-one comes from outside with good intentions. Everyone comes here to
take something away from us and tell bad stories about us. Some people come here to
help us with their research, they say. Then they go back to university to receive
degrees, and come back here as government officials giving us instructions and
orders.’ 2

The literatures of interviewing offer an expanse of techniques and methodologies. There
are scales of structuring interviews:

− Fixed questions applied universally to a large or homogenous sample population with

the objective of collecting statistical data
− Flexible, unstructured approach using similar questions and a check list of issues
covered with the objective that the subject details actions and also qualifies them
− The ethnographic approach where the interviewer conducts an open-ended dialogue
with the subjects’ way of life where the ‘ ethnographer and his subjects are both
performers and audience to one another’ 3 See also participant observation, Action

The second choice of open ended and semi-structured questioning tallied best with
research objectives. In one sense the interviews offer a validating data source and in
another they constituted a development of analytical categories, allowing a reflection and
contextualisation of the issues. According to Warwick4 the ‘ case for multiple data sources is
especially strong in the developing countries for the simple reason that the data collected
by any one method are often subject to substantial error’ 5 and thus balancing biases of
other methods. A caveat from Devereux and Hoddinot also adds that ‘ unstructured
interviews generally produce good case studies and questions, not statistical aggregates’ .6

Semi-structured interview methods would invite comment and personal perspective,

yet allow space for the interviewees’ agenda. Oppenheim terms these interviews as ‘ depth
interviews’ 7 where it ‘ is spontaneous reactions that are wanted, not carefully thought out
positions’ 8. He also posits that the ‘ job of the depth interviewer is thus not that of data
collection but ideas collection’ 9. However Oppenheim does not address the issues of
comparability of interviews and places data and ideas in contradiction to each other.
Measuring interview results does not imply mechanical comparison but also the

Kearl B (1976) Field data collection in the social sciences: experiences in Africa and the Middle East
Agricultural Development Council, New York quoted in Bulmer M (1993) ‘Interviewing and field organisation’ in
Warwick and Bulmer 1993:205-217
Berreman GD (1973) ‘Behind many masks: Ethnography and impression management in a Himalayan village’
in Warwick DP and Osherson S (Eds) Comparative research methods Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, USA pp268-
312, quote p284
Warwick DP (1993) ‘On methodological integration in social research’ in Bulmer M and Warwick DP (Eds)
(1993) Social research in developing countries: surveys and censuses in the Third World UCL, London pp275-
Warwick 1993:288
Devereux S and Hoddinott J Issues in data collection p30 in Devereux S and Hoddinott J (1992) Fieldwork in
developing countries Harvester Wheatsheaf, New York pp25-40
McCracken 1988:65-80
implications and weight of cultural and economic context. These issues should be worked
out in the choice of interviewee and in interview procedure.

Interviewee choice
Experience and Informed opinion are two limitations to a survey of the general population.
Interviews were increasingly restricted by expertise with first, telecommunications and
computing, secondly electronic mail and lastly world wide web and full Internet. The
measurement of teledensity gives an indication of the size of the widest interview
population. Teledensity is a statistical measure of the number of telephone lines per 100
people within an area. The three national figures are: Kenya 0.82, Tanzania 0.3, Uganda
0.241. The disparity in the measures between capital cities and rural areas shows more
clearly, population restrictions:

Capital city Rural areas

Kenya 7.84 0.14
Tanzania 2.3 0.05
Uganda 3.09 0.04

Sample populations with expertise, even in the first limiting category, are much more likely
to be found in the capital city.

There are more detailed implications from these indicators the scope of subjects for
interviewing has to be sketched in a wider format. Measures of teledensity are too precise
and actual telephone users far exceed the numbers of lines installed. Public access
telecommunications imply a far greater number of service users yet further facilities such
as public access electronic mail and Internet cafes are few and far between. Business and
organisational facilities also offer shared access and an eventual funnelling of information
derived from the public – meetings, publications and even individual communications; into
electronic mail and world wide web pages.

A list of the sample population would then include the following:

− Individual users of electronic mail
− Individual users of world wide web and full Internet
− Members and management of organisations – business and community – providing
electronic mail or world wide web communications
− Management and employees of technical and commercial providers of electronic mail
and Internet services
− Representatives, legislators and ministers within government
− Management and employees of monopoly telecommunications organisations

All figures are derived from African Telecommunications Indicators 1998, ITU, Geneva
Interview procedure
The research interviews to be conducted through a linguistic or brokered medium of
English language in order to extract the fullest, unfiltered meaning. It also expected some
experience with electronic communications1.

The core sample of interviewees were identified on the preparatory visit in 1996. These
were key players in the founding and implementation of electronic communications and
were informed of the research, its objectives and programme personally, by letter and by
electronic mail.

Interviewees were presented in advance with guideline questions but with the proviso that
the format would be conversational and would last for at least thirty minutes. In other words
the rules of engagement were set and questions acted as triggers and prompts to a flow of
views. The interviewees were offered a choice between taped conversation where the
transcript would be returned or a note-taking interview. Permission to use phrases verbatim
in note taking was confirmed in answer to, ‘ It is OK if I use that as a quote?’ . They were
also informed that it was a standard procedure to go off-record at any time and their identity
and identifying characteristics would not be recorded in any published document.

The course of the interview followed guideline questions. The first question was to relax
and animate the interviewee. As McCracken advises that opening questions should be for
‘ face-safety’ where they are ‘ simple, informal’ 2 and not controversial or provocative. This
standard question was ‘ When did you first hear of email and Internet? What have been
your personal experiences?’ . This allowed baseline of personal experience from where the
issues could be chased. The questions were then adjusted to the experience of the
interviewee and scoped to cover the research priorities.

Course of the interview

According to Oppenheim1, an in depth interview should be guided by the interviewer using
three processes; Traffic management – continuing the flow of information, Following the
hidden agenda – identifying the langue and parole, maintaining rapport – continuing the
human contact and conversation. He states that ‘ a depth interview that is going well,
there should hardly be any need for questions as such’ 2 This represents an ideal situation
and the experience of questioning subjects followed a less direct path where ‘ detection
proceeds by a kind of ‘ rummaging’ process’ 3. In this situation, a check list of issues and
topics4 tracked the progress of the interview until it was concluded by either party or came
to a natural close.
Exceptions and methodological problems

These are criteria of identity necessarily relative to the investigation and its regularity. See Winch’s analogy of
nuclear physics. Winch P (1990) The idea of a social science and its relation to philosophy Routledge, London
McCracken 1988:31
Oppenheim 1992:73
McCracken (1988:19)
As suggested in Devereux S and Hoddinott J (1992:29-31)
This was an initial problem of the methodology at the stage of setting the agenda and due
to posing over-complicated questions. Subjects accepted the background and objectives of
the research yet in the interview made it clear that they did not understand the agenda or
wording of one or more of the questions. This was noted quickly and questions were
framed more generally. For example, ‘ How are you adding value beyond service
provision?’ was short yet ambiguous through its use of jargon. Reframed, the question
became, ‘ What extra services are being provided for users, business and the community?’ .
Such an approach allowed a subject to give a factual answer followed by an opportunity to
qualify the information. It prevented pauses over ambiguity and prompted an unobstructed
flow of information.

The statement that ‘ It is important to work longer, and with great care, with a few people
than more superficially with many of them’ 1 was partially proven. Long and animated
interviews produced more facts, comment and insight. However detail and experience in an
animated answer to a single question in an otherwise empty interview showed that a
degree of superficiality can mask important discoveries. An example of this was when a
Ugandan computer science student offered a short monologue on operating systems and
web browsers but diverted into personal and institutional insights into technology transfer,
appropriate technology and the labour market. A good methodology can still bypass rich
seams of data.

Missed appointments
A frustrating part of arranging meetings in regions where means of communication do not
operate so seamlessly is what Morton-Williams calls ‘ noncontact’ .1 In addition, for subjects
using mobile telephones, private transport and a secretary, there were additional barriers.
The impediments here match McCracken’ s ‘ time scarcity and concern for privacy’ 2 as
factors influencing ‘ non-contact’ . Both problems required the development of tactics, first
for persisting in asking for and justifying interviews and second, in facilitating a comfortable
time and place for the meeting. Emails and telephone calls were always supplemented by
‘ doorstepping’ leading to more and better interviews. It became noticeable that rearranging
time schedules on the day was often easier for subjects than scheduling in advance and an
hours’ wait for their time would save a wasted afternoon.

McCracken (1988:17)
Morton-Williams J (1993) Interviewer approaches Dartmouth, Aldershot, UK pp59-69
McCracken (1988:11)
The multi-disciplinary and many layers of this research have been negotiated by keeping
an open mind to the long durée of development and telecommunications. Some chasing of
latest developments – particularly telecentres – distracted from that time-depth but for the
purpose of finding someone without a university degree who was using email or Internet.

Computer-work has subtracted from some potential spontaneity and freshness from the
research with many hours of repetitive screen-gazing. The subjects of this research are few
and their subjectivity often limited by product preference but there were strong feelings and
expressions of hope and wonder. Methods were important but only as important as a
technical and cultural ‘ positionality’ that allows access to, and communication with, the
width of players and actors.

This dialogue is carried over into chapter five with the integration of a 'history of the
present' and three sections of data analysis. It blends the approaches discussed here to
investigate the three technological gravities of email, telephones and Internet through their
rises and declines. They are weighted by country by country 'readings' of telephone traffic
and upgraded by a solid dissection of Internet and its institutional construction.

Chapter 5
Electronic mail – Precursor of Internet
In 1990 the following message was emailed to an electronic noticeboard on the West coast
of the United States and automatically distributed to subscribers around the world. It was
sent earlier that month from the preparatory meeting of the United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development.

/** en.unced.gener: 3.3 **/

**Written 11:10 PM Aug 25, 1990 by rpollard in

August 14, 1990 11:54 am

Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi Chronicle

Data communications has been a problem. I think that we have

worked out a solution through the new FidoNet link at ELCI
headquarters here in Nairobi. We tried using the UNEP Alternate
Voice Data (AVD) link with a modem call through New York to the
Telenet system and then to Econet/PeaceNet. Unfortunately the
technical support in New York has been abysmal and the line
quality has deteriorated to such a point that neither data nor
fax communication is possible. As an alternative Doug Rigby from
ELCI has put a FidoNet point in here and we are shipping our
data from UNEP to ELCI and on to the FidoNet-GreenNet link in
London where it enters the APC system. If you are reading this
it works, thanks to the super efforts of Doug Rigby, Jeremy
Mortimer (GreenNet) and Robert Pollard (Information Habitat.)

The message signalled the first expansion of electronic networking in East Africa and a
process that has exposed the region to a new means of communication. A single user
could ‘ narrowcast’ information to a distant audience by posting to a newsgroup or by
invoking multiple recipients through the carbon copying of messages.

This chapter collects the initial experiences of electronic mail, the unfolding of the FidoNet3
system and user traffic data from its use in East Africa. It gives both statistical evidence
and the views of key players to show how it was overtaken by the reliability and desirability
of Internet connections. It matches country by country statistics from early electronic mail in
Uganda with comparable data from its international telephone calls. This offers a firm
foundation for the intercomparison between international data and the positioning of
Uganda and its developing communications relationships, first for African and then globally.

It ends by introducing the third strand of connectivity, Internet, as a basis for examining
shifts from analogue telephone systems to digital data networks. The configuration and the
economic influences that have determined the structure of Internet vary from the long
historical integration of the telephone and the short and intense burst of early electronic
mail. The findings from these tendencies and groupings are synthesised and regrouped to
show how the construction of next generation protocols both vary and match preceding

In a technical definition, Fido is a proprietary standard, non-Internet compatible protocol routed through a
gateway which maintains durable connections with a high resiliency and using crash recovery. FidoNet is the
organisational structure that supports the messaging system. These equate with Internet protocol and the
Internet respectively
practice and organisation. These impacts on future connectivities are summarised and
weighed against the implications of Internet2, which will be installed where the lines
between voice, data and multimedia exchange have become increasingly blurred and
technologically irrelevant.

GreenNet and the Environment Liaison Centre International had kick-started electronic mail
and their technical co-operation established regular service in 1991. GreenNet was itself
part of a larger umbrella of Internetworking organisations – the Association for Progressive
Communications (APC) in San Francisco – and it used the slogan, ‘ global networking for
environment, development, peace and human rights’ . Operating from its offices in London
N1, at the heart of the Central Business District of NGOs, it offered local and global
communications solutions heavily flavoured with an agenda that sought to equalise access
to high level and at the same time, ‘ appropriate’ , datacommunications. A part of this was
aimed at developing country solutions and beyond that, to not-for-profit sectors that
matched its aims.

GreenNet was a concerned organisation and workers co-operative that was informed and
aware of the consequences of its actions with a body of experience that encompassed
struggles of the past and current regions of contention. Cuba, Nicaragua and Central
America and South Africa were areas that informed a progressive outlook. In alliance with
APC partners, it was playing a role in the dissemination of information and the
establishment of communications in Mexico where the Zapatista uprisings were
accompanied by electronic mail bulletins, in the former Soviet Union where news of the
coup was spread over the FidoNet email system and in East Timor where it trained and
helped install a user base. FidoNet email was based on the public telephone system. It
sent compressed electronic mail packets and because of this ‘ tunnelling’ , was relatively
immune to intervention or interception from the state. Transmissions could be encrypted
with high level privacy software and equipment could be shifted between locations with
relative ease.

This ‘ guerrilla’ networking operated near to the frontier of technological developments yet
could run on very basic computer equipment. The operation was run in a spirit of
voluntarism1 tinged with missionary enthusiasm and with strong connections to this past
model. It differed from many of the voluntaristic movements of the 19th Century in that it
utilised networks of Non Government – in the areas of environment, academic and
ultimately health - but retained the ethics of self-exploitation and not-for-profit. It followed in
the tradition of organisations such as the Anti-slavery Society in acting as a gateway or
broker for the collection and dissemination of information over a wide area but it was not a
single-issue group. The patterns of interconnection that these original groups had
established and had endured through the colonial and post-colonial period. They were
outward looking and with a strong local momentum and organised and motivated to grasp
new networking technology.

A short history of the rise, fall and rise of voluntarism in East Africa has been written by Goran Hyden. Hyden
G (1995) ‘Bringing voluntarism back in: Eastern Africa in comparative perspective’ in Semboja and Therkildsen
(Eds) 1995, pp35-50
GreenNet and ELCI were introducing a technology, a mind-set and a means of
communications that were ‘ hot’ , in McLuhan’ s sense of the word, in a ‘ cold’ – low
technology, poorly diffused infrastructure, rumour-influenced – society and economy.
Trainings and support were given for users with ELCI acting as partners and agents. They
were actively teaching, disseminating and installing FidoNet along with ideologies of self-
expression and information extension. As missionaries had actively participated in the
colonial and civilising project through education and health services at the beginning of the
century, GreenNet and ELCI were the vanguard of a huge shift in patterns of information
exchange. Electronic networking was offering global extension but through relatively
‘ noisy’ 2 channels. This bears comparison with the spatial pioneer, Henry Stanley, through
both his plea against slavery by letter to the Daily Telegraph of 1873 and his telegram
giving news of Livingstone’ s death (via India) to the Royal Geographical Society.

This early period of electronic networking in East Africa was proving the commercial
viability of electronic mail and Internet while using the systems to offer cheap and efficient
international communications. The ‘ pandora’ s box’ of instant and distant interconnection
had been introduced and grasped by the Non Government and not-for-profit sector. They
sought to temper the capacity of datacommunications for a collective good based on the
80s and 90s issues of the grassroots and their own version of development. Missionaries
had heralded the inevitable momentum of colonial penetration yet were distanced from the
full implications of imperialism. FidoNet and email networking were the precursor of a
digital reconfiguration of society that is being reinvented by forces of re-regulation,
commerce and technology.

Satellite forerunners
There were precursors to this form of electronic networking. PeaceSat and the SHARE
project (shown in figure DA) had used satellite technologies for humanitarian purposes and
involved the non-government or ‘ third’ sector1 from the 1970s. PeaceSat’ s operations from
1971 to 1988 were archived by Lewis and Mukaida who described two phases of
networking in the Pacific basin covering issues of health, education, science, ‘ issues’ plus
community service programmes.2 These were conducted using VHF communications over
satellite terminals costing at least $640, probably at 1988 prices, and with 8,000 airtime
hours per year. There are comparisons to be made with some of the specific FidoNet
based schemes but there are three dividing lines. First the area of communication was
limited by the location and footprint of the satellite and reduced the opportunity for
unplanned, unscheduled or spontaneous communication. The 22 hours up-time per day
claimed seems a little excessive, bearing in mind this shared space, and it appears to have
covered six time zones at maximum. With transfer rates at between 120 and 2400 baud 3
A development of the engineering term where noise implies the level of distortion for a message determined
by the number and focus of other messages. GreenNet and APC newsgroups were known for a lack of noise
compared to Usenet groups where ‘flaming’ and ‘spamming’ were common. However the newsgroups
contained many other message postings.
The terms ‘third’ sector and ‘third’ way have two dubious precursors: there is/was a neo-nazi group of that
name in the UK; the term was used by Graham Greene in a not-so-good novel – The Quiet American –about
the early days of the Vietnam conflict. It generally describes a direction taken equidistant between two poles
(thesis/antithesis) which could cover right/left, local/global, state/private… whatever!
Lewis ND and Mukaida LVD (1991) ‘Telecommunications in the Pacific region: The PeaceSat experiment’ in
Brunn SD and Leinbach TR (1991) Collapsing space and time Harper Collins, London pp232-251, this data
from p245
At full stretch this translates as a page a minute
organisation would have to dictate content rather than vice versa. Second, autonomy was
limited in a cold war climate and on a NASA satellite 4. Lastly there were no nodal functions
and connections could not be ‘ franchised’ or resold or distributed. The key to FidoNet was
that it fulfilled a quasi-commercial venture where economic allocative power flowed in and
out of African host systems.

The PeaceSat project was also impermanent in the same way that the SHARE project
turned out to be. They relied on the charitable donation of satellite space segments by a
larger organisation. The largest boundary was that of space for PeaceSat while SHARE
was bounded most by time and provided flighting connectivity. The collection of East
African experiences shown in the resume of the SHARE project in figure DA show that it
was, like all satellite projects, an expensive and valuable experience limited by the
sustainabilty of retaining coverage. The useful life of a satellite rarely exceeds 15 years.

Figure DA
The Share Project (1985-1989 )

Satellites for Health and Rural Education, or Project Share, was a special eighteen-month test and
demonstration period but extended until 1989. IntelSat provided free satellite space for health and
education purposes in developing countries. The two East African examples are:
Nairobi 1985: The Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP) sponsored two satellite
teleconferences, linking women attending the third United Nations World Conference of Women with
groups of women leaders in three U.S. cities. The event was entitled ‘ Dateline Nairobi--Women's
Western Historical Manuscript Collection
Papers of Donna Allen (1968-1987)
Director of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press

Kampala, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam 1986: The conference ‘ Applications of Microbiology to
African Problems’ used satellite-based audioconferencing in March 1986. Home-based participants
were located in Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania while the producing
groups were the American Society of Microbiology and George Washington University. The topics
discussed over the link included Fungal Infections, Infant Diarrhoea, Vaccine Development and

Kampala 1986: Memorial University of Newfoundland Link to East Africa in May 1986 which was a
narrow-band audioconferencing link between Kenyatta Medical School in Nairobi (Kenya), the
Makerere Medical School in Kampala (Uganda) and the Health Sciences Centre in St. Johns
Newfoundland (Canada)… The links allowed electroencephalogram and electrocardiogram
information to be sent from the African cities to Canada where expert doctors using sophisticated
computers diagnosed and recommended treatments. The link also allowed students at the Uganda
hospital to participate in lectures, ward-rounds and other education session given at the Kenya
Andah JS (1995)
Telematics Initiatives for Sustainable Development
Paper presented at the African regional symposium on
telematics for development, Addis Ababa, 3rd to 7th April 1995

Rules included ‘ no personal or intimate traffic will take place over the air’ and ‘ the PeaceSat Project is not
political ... all terminals desire the free flow of ideas and the professional discussion of the same (they do not
select ideas for others or advocate one over another)’ Lewis and Mukaida 1991:247
KENPAC packets then email bundles
KENPAC is an example of a state datacommunications system. It was superseded by
KenStream in 1996 and JamboNet in 1998, but for ten years offered access to global
networks on a scale that precluded NGO and voluntary participation. This public switched
data network was the foundation of Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation’ s
experience with formal computer-based connectivity and allowed it to offer services outside
the conventional telephone system. It allowed a data connection to exchange data packets
over an X.25 open systems connection. In 1988 the World Bank-linked, Consultative Group
on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) began to communicate from Kenya to the
International CGNET over KENPAC. Data calls were both outgoing and incoming while
equipment was subject to type approval and licensing and these pushed costs up.
According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), between
1988 and 1992 the costs for the Kenyan connection averaged 20 000 ksh a month or
around $1000 for between 1 and 2 calls per day5. Together with cost of terminal equipment
and the lack of a supporting techno-organisational network there were no incentives to
draw in small organisations or individuals. Access costs were prohibitive and there was no
ready-made community with which to share information unlike the explicitly public FidoNet
and Internet systems.

It was FidoNet which offered these technical and organisational possibilities rather than
direct connection to an immature Internet. It provided electronic mail based on a 'bulletin
board' or off-line messaging system and technical advantages and improvements were
fourfold. The Fido protocol compressed messages together for transmission; it split up
these ‘ bundles’ and reassembling them at the receiving end allowing short transmission
bursts; it checked and resent data packets; and it allowed automating transmission and
mailing operations. It was also a durable protocol that was able to negotiate the
inconsistencies and poor quality of badly capitalised and maintained telephone equipment
and lines often found in Africa. Other administrative innovations were the initiation of calls
from outside, capitalising on lower tariffs from developed countries to developing countries.
Further, it
integrated software components into a package that was easy to install, maintain and

Traffic was directed through the local STD network, international telephone lines and
Internet and mediated by the London based NGO email gateway - GreenNet. Email was
able to tunnel through public infrastructure from sender to recipient without license, permit
or agreement and could connect to the world through any telephone line. It acted as a
clearing-house and training facility for other campaign groups and offered them electronic
mail as a tool for their work and as a resource with which to serve a wider community.
Electronic mail was a powerful tool and yet at the same time it was a ground-breaking
technology. Although Internet was in existence, its weakness in holding connections over
the telephone, and especially those of poor analogue connections in Africa, 6 meant that it
was spatially limited to main line cables. The development of Single Line Internet Protocol

in AAAS (1992) Electronic Networking in Africa: Workshop on science and technology networks in Africa,
August 1992 African Academy of Science/AAAS
And abysmal in the rainy seasons
(SLIP) and the Point to Point Protocol (PPP) in May and November 19927 offered a
compromise but did not affect the viability of FidoNet email in Africa for another three

FidoNet, is a user-friendly system and was developed by amateurs to reliably exchange

electronic mail as cost-effectively as possible and to run on basic computer and telematic
equipment. This means that it can operate on an IBM compatible 8086 machine with a
small, 20 megabyte hard drive - 1985 technology. A modem, telephone line and power
source are the only other requirements. In this sense it approaches an appropriate
technology – low cost, easily deployed and maintainable by bricoleurs.

Its mechanics saw a host system in East Africa forward messages over the telephone to a
gateway with an Internet connection. First this was London then, from 1994, UNEP in
Nairobi offered an alternative connection.8 Finally from 1996, live commercial Internet was
used and the distance to an Internet connection had been shrunk to the local level.
However lines remained poor and FidoNet’ s ability to retransmit interrupted or corrupted
exchanges allowed highly compressed streams of data minimised the time and unreliability
of calls over faint and crackling African connections. It still holds this advantage which can
explain its continued, though limited use, especially over the Ugandan telephone system
outside Kampala.

ELCI and FidoNet

The epistemic unity of the environment as an issue and its transformation into an
identifiable development sector coalesced at the end of the 1980s. East Africa was a
crucible for these movements and an example of the fusion of global and local interests,
co-operation between NGOs, international agencies and the development of an
independent means of communication. At the centre of this change was the foundation of
the United Nations Environment Programme Headquarters (UNEP) in Nairobi in 1972 and
soon after, in 1974, the Environmental Liaison Centre International. At the lowest
denominator there was a shared location in the East African hub of commerce and
communications. At other levels there were shared interests, co-ordination and contact
between international and grassroots activities and lastly subcontracting of research and
project work.

ELCI was founded as a Non Governmental Organisation with the objective of creating a
decentralised, regionally focused networking instrument to strengthen the collective action
of the 'third sector'. By 1996 its administrative budget was US$1.5 million with a wide base
of international funding and it had reached its peak of operations. It comprised 30 members
of staff – 16 'professionals' and 14 support staff. The organisation and email connection
interfaced with its three regular publications: Ecoforum, Wedline and a bi-monthly circular
letter on natural resource issues. It was a centred autonomous interface between issues
and institutions and at the cutting edge of the integrated communications and publishing of
its time. Protus Muteshi describes the period between 1990and 1992 as the start of cheap,
effective networking:
These dates are from Keith Lynch’s Internet timeline,
Through their live connection to Norway, provided gratis and used by commercial and non-commercial traffic.
However regional and local lines were of a worse quality and reliability than international lines
'It was very busy for us, ELCI had been up for a year when I began… at that time we
were starting to help others get their systems working… It wasn't only that because we
were setting up conferences which were starting environmental discussions which were
international. The IDRC [funded] projects - NGONet and PADIS then Mukla and
Costech all came through us… with training and support. Each time a person or an
NGO was to hook up with email the traffic increased… the telephones were busy and
we were active. It was because the cheapest way to communicate was using email,
now it is VERY cheap. This is how I saw networking developing.' 1

FidoNet and Non Government networks

Using the FidoNet system, GreenNet's averaged figures for transmission costs to African
hosts for 1992-93 were 5.2 pence per message and £7.83 per megabyte. By 1993-1994,
increased economies from rising traffic had reduced costs to 3.9 pence per message and
£3.59 per megabyte. In other words £600, an approximation of $1000, would have bought
11,529 messages or 385 messages per day in 1992-1993. By 1993-1994 this would have
risen to 15,384 messages or 513 messages per day. FidoNet proved to be significantly
cheaper than using the state's public data network, KENPAC in the case of Kenya.

This improvement in the means of communication stemmed from the configuration of

incoming international calls over standard lines, a shared international connection and
improvements in message compression and reliability. It was first chosen by ELCI for its
own international communications in early 1990 and then spread. By the end of the year,
four International Development Research Centre (IDRC) funded projects were connected
with technical and logistical support from ELCI. Table DB below shows the countries,
dates, organisations and sectors connecting to exchange email or 'polling' GreenNet.

Interview Protus Muteshi, Nairobi, 23 April 1999
Table DB
East African FidoNet email hosts2
Country Organisation Start date Sector
Kenya ELCI Oct-89 Environment
Kenya ARCC Apr-92 Networking/NGO
Kenya ARSO Apr-94 Regional intergovernment
Kenya Thorntree Jul-94 Commercial
Kenya UMSG Jan-96 Religion
Kenya Shane Feb-96 Private
Tanzania COSTECH Mar-92 Education
Tanzania TanHealth Aug-93 Health
Tanzania UniDar Dec-94 Education
Tanzania Hnettan Nov-95 Health
Uganda MUKLA Dec-90 Education
Uganda TransMail Mar-95 Commercial
Uganda Muknet Jul-95 Commercial

IDRC and ELCI initiated the four networks that would spread the connectivity to the hosts
shown in the table above. These were the Eastern and Southern African University
Network (ESANET), African Regional Standards Organisation (ARSO), Non-governmental
organisation network (NGONet) and the Pan African Development Information System
Network (PADIS). For a small initial investment of $US170,000, ELCI was able to connect
six University nodes in Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia; two research nodes in Dar
es Salaam; an ARSO node in Nairobi; 48 NGO points around eastern and southern Africa;
and an Ethiopian node, PADIS in Addis. They all followed the model of a low powered
computer with modem and FidoNet software and it was an example of shared experiences.

Achievements of early email

Initially, email split nodes into national units and then the success of email started to
swamp the institutions' original purpose. Demand for services was huge at all nodes and
electronic mail quickly established its own market. The immediate consequence was that
they became independent of ELCI, which could not offer comparable cost, reliability or
directness to GreenNet's Internet gateway in London1. By mid-1992 there were four East
African nodes sending and collecting email internationally and distributing it locally. They
had become national nodes, disconnected from each other and from their original network.
According to (now Professor) Paul Mugambi of Makerere University, 'Normally we are
linked to the other four nodes of ESANET but the experience has been that there is little
communication within the original five universities, whereas each node has an expanding
email activity with Europe and the United States.' 2

This trend was an indication that the node traffic was increasingly influenced by point
traffic. The systems had exceeded themselves and were becoming profit-making
institutions and electronic mail and conference service providers. The hierarchy of FidoNet
(shown in Figure DC) if not the philosophy, resembled a pyramid money making scheme
Banks K (1996) Cost-sharing mechanisms for the developing countries GreenNet report for the APC and
opened in May 1990
Mugambe PE (1992) ‘Informatics policy and science and technology communications in Uganda' in Electronic
Networking in Africa: Workshop on science and technology networks in Africa, August 1992 African Academy
of Science/American Association for the Advancement of Science pp125-130
where subscription money rose from bottom to top. Despite these two factors – the hard-
currency payments for telephone calls and the cost burden of a large volume of incoming
mail, both introduced expenses that were out of the control of local operators. This
stretching of resources and the growing overheads would increase business risk and their
impacts are detailed below in an assessment of the decline in FidoNet email. However the
first model of African influenced and determined electronic communications was born. Non-
governmental and academic institutions became providers, arbitrators and quasi-
commercial operators of monopoly electronic mail services and it ruled from 1991-1996.

Figure DC
Geography and hierarchy of FidoNet3

MUKLA and campus connectivity

Part of the inspiration for this research was from using the facilities of Makerere University
in 1993. The library offered a full selection of books published until the 1960s together with
the complete works of Marx and Lenin. Recent periodicals and books showed a different
pattern and were scarce. United Nations publications were reasonably up to date, journals


N. America | Europe | Australia | S. America | Africa | Asia
Region 73
East Africa
| | |
Host Net 731 Net 732 Net 733
Kenya Uganda Tanzania
5:731/0 5:732/0 5:733/0
| | | Node
Node 1 Node 4 Node 100
5:731/1 5:731/4 5:731/100
Point ______________|________________
| | |
Point 4 Point 11 Point 200
5:731/100.4 5:731/100.11 5:731/100.200
were absent and the few recent books were kept in a caged area for short term loan only.

Source: Ochuodho S (1992) Email demystified: Low cost networking with FidoNet in Users' guide to electronic
networks AAAS 1992 pp5-27
100 yards away in the Institute of Computer Science, there was a working email node with
access to worldwide resources. It seemed a simple technical task to link the two somehow
and provide access to journals or to help staff target books for ordering. The technician at
that time had already seen this possibility, email had made his 'eyes wide open to how we
could spread our thin resources and make some of our own work better'4. Already, email
news groups were producing academic discussions and networking between Kampala,
East Africa and other users around the world.

This initial view lacked the insight of how technical change rolls out different practices and it
was based on four presumptions – that the library was the centre of knowledge resources
on campus; that tuition relied on hard copy texts more than a lecture-based syllabus; that
online journals would offer texts that could be easily accessed and duplicated; finally that
the combination of growing knowledge inputs and lower publication overheads might
provide the conditions for greater local academic output of data and papers. The rate of
change and the technical dynamics seemed irresistible and email had already become a
profitable sideline whilst using only basic computer technology.

Mukla as an email hub

Makerere University provides the most integrated case study for higher education as it
housed both the ESANET and new, parallel, HealthNet projects and was the principal
electronic mail host for Uganda between 1992 and 1996. These two distinctions were
supplemented by the personal involvement of Charles Musisi, a charismatic and effective
system operator with an environmental background and a student in the electrical
engineering department. Mukla's position as a national email hub was confirmed by 1993
when incoming and outgoing traffic reached phenomenal levels as shown in figure DD
based on data from GreenNet in London1
Local area networks were very rare and therefore computers were stand-alone PCs. These
could transfer data in three conventional ways: they could be linked by a cable using a
network or laplink protocol, they could output and input from a floppy disk and they could
output to a printer. The most recent
Figure DD
means was by using a modem and
telephone lines and this was most
commonly by electronic mail. Said
Abibi, Director of the East African
School of Librarianship, noted his
early experience thus:

'Email was a miracle.

Suddenly I was able to
contact Nairobi or Dar es
Salaam and get a response
in the same day without the
problems of making a long
distance call. I remember
sometimes sending
emails[around campus] to be lazy but really it has only been good for group

Interview, Charles Musisi, Kampala, March 1995

Banks, 1996
discussions when people can't be there all at once, really it has been good for
international mails… From my desktop I could receive news...We were part of a
community…. I don't think it changed the way I worked but made me think of new
boundaries. I am an enthusiast. [As regards the work and position of the East African
School of librarianship] The library is not always at the centre and we are looking at
these [electronic] journals, I think they are a real opportunity.'

Together with the Academic Registrar's Office, the School of Medicine, the Institute of
Statistics and Applied Economics, EASL was one of the first recipients of modems,
software and training. It had applied the technology to its work and found it was a solution
to the networking problems that confront such an organisation but did not resolve
expectations for publications. Fido email had allowed distant relationships to become more
reliable and more instant as well as expand the possibilities of its information repertoire.

Local conferences and local interconnection had started promisingly but with time
messages and conferencing were extending beyond the campus and beyond the ESANET
network. The Early Bird conference was aimed to link Ugandan users but the number of
messages it carried was 150 per year in 1992, 250 in 1993 and by 1994 a 'posting' was
rare with frequency falling to less that one message a week 2. This was despite the numbers
of users rising from 5 to 250 in the corresponding period. The network was beginning to
step out of time with the communications tempo and with the users it had fostered.

Campus connectivity became determined by internal politics of difference. These stemmed

from aid-based funding of individual departments while the central administration was
underfunded. For instance the School of Forestry and the Department of Geography were
involved in a UNEP biomass mapping initiative and received technical support and
equipment for these GIS studies. This meant that they enjoyed electronic mail connections
while arts and social sciences were likely to have less or no connectivity. Another layer of
relations had been added by the HealthNet project which would add to the directedness of
email-only technologies and people networks. However the approaching point of change
was that of commercial Internet services. In 1995, with the foundation of InfoMail -
Uganda’ s first live IP connection, these divisions would become apparent.
Health information and microsatellites
Electronic networking for health services followed a different organisational trajectory to
environmental and academic networking. In part this is a sectoral issue where there are
higher concentrations of technically trained professionals than in environment but also it
has been because of the involvement of an NGO dedicated to providing health
connectivity. Satellife, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts co-ordinated the installation
and development of HealthNet. It was executed as a proprietary network based on the
technology of microsatellites or Low Earth Orbiting Satellites (LEOs) rather than the
Geostationary satellites (GEOs) used by the SHARE project - more Sputnik than Telstar.
Bernard Lown describes the line of 'reasoning' thus:

'We were horrified by President Reagan launching Star Wars. We thought it would be
disastrous for humankind. So I said, "Don't argue against bad ideas, come up with a
good idea"....When we talked with physicians in developing counties, they would say
that they didn't want new tools or new pharmaceuticals, they wanted connectivity. It
seemed to me that [the Nobel prize winning group he co-founded, International
Early Bird conference logs 1992-1996, MUKLA system, Kampala
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War] IPPNW should launch a network of
satellites to deliver that connectivity. When I told my colleagues, they thought I was
demented.’ 3

HealthNet also shared the same regional focus and even the same sites as the ESANET
and NGONet projects of the ELCI/IDRC initiative. Jensen and Sears explained this process
in 19914.

Satellife have purchased 60% of the capacity on the University of Surrey (UK) built Uosat-F
satellite...This will initially be used to exchange health and medical information within the
same Universities (coincidentally) participating in the ESANET project and via Memorial
University in Newfoundland Canada...Because of the total overlap in institutions in Africa,
the HealthNet project is being administered by the African participants as part of the
ESANET project to evaluate alternative data transport methods...Although the current
traffic is limited to health related issues, it will be up to the individual participating
institutions in Africa to obtain clearance from the authorities for a wider interpretation of the
health mandate. As far as the funders of the HealthNet project are concerned, this could
encompass a much broader range of environmental and social issues.

Mixed means of communication, training and regulation

With this crossover it was inevitable that both technological and administrative experiences
would be shared. Training operators of systems and fitting both new technologies into
national concepts of telecommunications regulation were the initial difficulties. Trainees
learnt procedures of the operation, maintenance and administration of data exchange,
billing, accounts, user training and technical support. These are the building block of
running a business while the other side – fitting into national legal structures – were very
fresh ideas. They introduced the policy dilemmas as they infringed national borders and
provided a parallel telecommunications infrastructure. However they remained unregulated
by state and PTTs and they received a mixture of support and tolerance from the PTTs and
governments of East Africa. From the perspective of one of the Ugandan trainees, Charles
Musisi given in an interview in Kampala in April 1997:

'It was a new world opening up. I came from an engineering background with three
years studying but I was trained as an operator of a satellite downstation and an email
network within weeks. There were a group of colleagues to share information and to
troubleshoot problems. Then, we were truly pioneers....We had to fix licences and
things but for me in Uganda there was support. Some university people took an interest
and then they [at UPTC and in the Government] let us go ahead without interference.
They had seen the system working....they saw it was worthwhile.'

Satellife generally found that it was granted special rights by regulators but FidoNet was
not such a clear cut case. According to Makau Ngola, former system operator of ELCI, for
the entire period of its operation FidoNet was beyond the law, 'not licensed and not
harassed' and there have been consistent relaxation of licensing and operating rules based
on information content and humanitarian or not-for-profit objectives. While the Ugandan
Mitka M (1988) Developing Countries Find Telemedicine Forges Links to More Care and Research, Journal of
the American Medical Association 1998 Vol.280 pp1295-1296

Jensen M and Sears G (1991) Low cost global electronic communications networks for Africa posted in Global
Networks for Africa website, School of African Studies, University of Pennsylvania
authorities were open all the new technologies possible, Tanzania incorporated the
technology into the work of the Council for Science and Technology (COSTECH), a
parastatal. Kenya provided more of a problem. The commercial email service provider,
ThornTree, is used as a stronger example of regulatory conflict below in Chapter Seven to
show the way in which lines were eventually drawn in 1995.

The technology and networks of Satellife

Satellife depended initially on its two LEOs. At the time HealthNet data transfers never
exceeded 200-300 Kilobytes of data per pass1 as there were only two constantly orbiting
satellites to provide global coverage. The LEOs provided a high technology solution to the
problem of connecting widespread and remote areas and each transfer contained packed
electronic mails, newsgroup postings together with database requests and replies.
However status, cost and effectiveness were not in balance, the Fido system started to
soak up much of the excess network traffic and by 1992, became the primary means of

According to Bill Sangiwa, System operator at Costech then HealthNet, Tanzania,

'Connections were interchangeable. We had used both satellite and Fido and in the long
term Fido was best for everyday email and LEOs for rural situations…I think there is a
toolkit from which you can pick the application that suits the conditions. FidoNet worked
where the infrastructure was poor and satellite worked where there was not much at all'2
The satellites still provide connectivity, but because of their limited batteries and because
they overfly base stations only long enough for twenty minutes data transfer, they are
targeted for emergency situations. They were the precursor of the satellites that currently
comprise both the Iridium3 and Globalstar networks which provide support for mobile and
remote communications. As a testbed, Satellife LEOs were invaluable for the new
generation of mobile and rural communications.

HealthNet as a network of medical experts aimed to short-circuit the time lags of

conventional means of interaction over distance – correspondence, newsletters,
conferences and visits to libraries. Their initiative gave on the ground experience to the
members, employees and national bodies in the countries where they operated. The
success of HealthNet can be measured by its spread and durability. In East Africa it has
over two hundred connecting points and in total it has the capacity of a pan-African
network. Logistically, it presents means of information-sharing on issues such as HIV and
essential drugs present cost and time saving intercommunication. Technologically it has
moved from its place as pioneer to a network based on readily available Internet

The development of HealthNet emphasises the three recurring characteristics of the first
stage of electronic networking in East (and southern) Africa. First, electronic
communications converged towards the FidoNet technical standard despite the starting

Between 50 and 100 pages of text. Interview Kerry Gallivan, HealthNet co-ordinator, Boston, November 1995
Interview, Bill Sangiwa, Dar es Salaam, September 5th 1997

This network provider with 66 microsatellites since gone bankrupt, indicating that balances of technological
risk, service quality and commercial viability have not still been fully overcome
point of LEOs. Although conceived as a satellite-only project, it became clear that the most
cost-effective way of moving larger amounts of data was using the superior configuration of
Fido protocol and telephone carrier. LEO connectivity was re-targeted for networking in
more rural and marginal areas. Second, institutions became quasi-commercial service
providers for users outside their initial constituency. This tendency was driven by the
shortage of communications supply, strong local demand for email services and the utility
of another source of project revenue. Third, there was a strong degree of inter-networking
which led to shared experience amongst common personnel and institutions. Between
them they had tested and evaluated the methods, structures and equipment that could offer
the best results in the local context.

The installation of low technology electronic mail systems led to a multiplication of
connections. The network spread by example, press articles, the lure of a tunnelling fax
service and the through the user – institutions and individuals. Early email was not
advertised by the conventional means and its mystique, shorn of bullet point hyperbole,
added to the community-feel of small-scale systems. The email contact this engendered is
shown in the statistics below, indicating a narrowness in the bands of spatial contacts.

Email was fixed in non-government with a large expatriate representation. The medium of
email was limited by its delayed perspective and text-based view of networks. Circles of
connection were tighter and in an orbit around the poles of Europe and the United States –
the Internet centre of gravity. The wash of outward messages was met by the backwash of
newsgroups, mailing lists and king-size emails.

FidoNet email Traffic

The mail data is primarily sourced from Uganda for depth with Kenyan and Tanzanian
sources used for larger comparison. This sequences well with the detail of telephone data
which follows below and in Chapter Six. Electronic mail traffic data 1 is provided in four
categories of incoming, outgoing, size of messages and number of messages. The three
stages of comparison are by East African figures for total and continental traffic2, Ugandan

Figure DE
Direction of international FidoNet email Uganda 1993-1997

The dataset is global traffic through the GreenNet Fido gateway which was reduced or ‘munged’ to African
incoming and outgoing traffic and then divided by Ugandan, Kenya and Tanzanian components.
Appendix Three carries a full listing of country codes and the continental splits used in the research
figures for message sizes and again, Ugandan figures, to show country by country
connection patterns.
Figure DE shows total traffic for Uganda only. There two trends and the first gives the peak
of FidoNet email traffic as the years 1994, 1995 and 1996 while the second illustrates
incoming traffic significantly larger than outgoing in terms of numbers of messages and
volume.3 The explanation in the disparities between incoming and outgoing traffic are that
first, message sizes are larger and second, that mail is comprised of components that
produce this bias. Point to point messages are comparable to telephone calls and show
exchanges between singly addressed users. Mailing lists carbon copy (cc:) a single
message to multiple recipients from a single sender. Newsgroups transfer single messages
within a closed user community to a local distribution point where they are then sent to
multiple recipients. This graph of international traffic shows all three forms and those
newsgroup systems that situated outside Uganda transfer as many copies of the same
message as there are local subscribers.

The period where Fido was the dominant protocol covered the initial growth and spread of
electronic mail between 1993 and 1997. Figure DE indicates this spread yet for further
detail there has been analysis of the components of the dataset by the use of Perl scripting.
This is relatively benign in terms of manipulation apart from the issue of aliasing. The
problem of international domains – .org .com .net – has been partially solved in the
analysis by using the aliasing technique to attach .us as a country property and to
substitute known anomalies (for instance becomes However another
level of uncertainty has been introduced by purely FidoNet traffic that is untraceable4, fax
over email and openly Bitnet5 and other newsgroup traffic. These have been sorted from
the dataset and are displayed as a separate category alongside more precise spatial

East African comparisons

Three country plots of incoming and outgoing mail are shown in figures DF1 and DF2. The
first thing that is striking is Kenya’ s position as the least active country in FidoNet mail. With
six email service providers and at the ‘ hub’ of East Africa in terms of trade, industry and
history this seems counter-intuitive. The answer lies in the operation of the UNEP node,
described above, which slowly took on more and more email traffic, transferred using both
Fido and UUCP from FidoNet hosts and acting as an alternative to the GreenNet gateway.
A measure of this volume is shown is given by a sample of just two months in late 1997.1

It shows that strictly not-for-profit traffic generated by the East African Internet Association,
ELCI, the Urban Missionaries Support Group, and a sporadic Tanzanian connection from
the Marie node in Arusha, generated 111 Megabytes of mail arriving at UNEP and 33
Megabytes leaving. In other words the agglomeration of these systems’ email was, at that
late stage in FidoMailing, around double that transiting by phone lines. The system had
shifted, in Kenya at least, to a local Fido connection with national Internet delivery. The
Traffic totals are affected by missing or deleted data and these figures have been corrected to cover one six
month and one two month gap in data by using monthly indices to weight surviving data. This provides in
excess of 99% accuracy when compared with surviving totals.
System messages, operational queries and a few file requests
Because It’s Time network, heavily biased towards newsgroups
Supplied with discretion by the system operator, December 1997
UNEP SASA2 IP gateway had started as an important back-up for the overloaded
GreenNet system but eventually superseded the connection over three years of operation.

Uganda and Tanzania show that countries could be ‘ quick in – quick out’ with these phone-
based networking technologies although the latter left behind this connectivity later and in
line with national prevarication over Internet policy. Country by country plots of continental
traffic show variance within these totals however and figures DG1 to DI2 are graphs of this
detail. A notable component in these plots is the line that shows FidoNet, Fax and Bitnet in
outgoing email traffic and the largest share of this is taken up by faxes. If there was a ‘ killer
application’ within a ‘ killer application’ it was the faxes that were sent as emails to Islington
then routed to telephone lines and transmitted at London rates. This example of ‘ tunnelling’
or hidden traffic helped multiply the popularity of FidoNet and maintained GreenNet’ s
position despite the ‘ free’ UNEP gateway. It was the momentum for the first two
commercial service providers – ThornTree in Nairobi and TransMail of Uganda. It was also
a wake-up call to budding entrepreneurs as they saw that the services were ‘ a license to
print money’ and this was only defeated by increasing competition by 1996-97.

Ugandan continental figures in DG1 and DG2 show incoming traffic is skewed towards
American originating emails with its Internet centre of gravity, while outgoing traffic is
massively skewed towards Europe, probably due to the affiliation with GreenNet in London.
The detail of incoming traffic in Figure DH1 shows that American and European traffic
quickly established dominance while traffic from the rest of the world – Africa, Asia and the
Pacific – overhauled Fido and Bitnet traffic (there is indeed no incoming fax traffic) in 1995.
This late start reflects the rapidity with which Uganda adjusted to electronic mail and the
head-start it developed in East Africa, Africa and amongst other ‘ least developed countries’ .

This ‘ take-off’ in traffic was replicated in outgoing traffic where there were large increases in
volumes of mail to Africa and from comparison between Figures DG1 and DG2, the traffic
peaks in incoming traffic were preceded by peaks in traffic leaving Uganda. Logically,
emails from Uganda provoked emails into Uganda and the inbuilt tendency of mail currents
(from hot to cold), newsgroups and larger incoming messages sizes acted as multipliers for
the resultant backwash. The huge European curve reflects emails that were addressed to
and from the GreenNet gateway in 1994 and from then on, to GreenNet and other APC
users. The addressing anomaly of FidoNet3 masked full IP addresses and so included all
the administrative traffic, newsgroups run by the Association for Progressive
Communications and a large body of GreenNet users who were themselves oriented to
Non-Government and third world issues. It was a phenomenon of Ugandan orientation
however, more than just a peculiarity of the FidoNet, GreenNet and the APC system.

Kenya and Tanzanian patterns of email volumes shown in DH1, DH2, DI1 and DI2 do not
show the same imprint of UK gateway traffic. Kenya’ s inbound emails show the same
influence of American and US traffic, the difference between this curve and Europe easily

Kiswahili for ‘now’ or ‘wotcha’
A different addressing format meant that the ‘default’ setting on mailing software indicated gate traffic over the
Internet addressing convention. This was a shifting standard and designed to avoid the complexities of
immature Internet addressing which was still divided between ‘big-endian’ – – and ‘little-endian’ – – formats
covers any problems with the aliasing of .com addresses. There is a rise in both African
mails and US mails in 1996 which correlates with both Ugandan and Tanzanian data while
similar trends of low levels of Fido, Bitnet, Asian and Pacific are also present. However the
picture of Tanzanian incoming mail presents a regular curve against the stages of Kenyan
growth where these coincide with the addition of traffic from the medical school and the
UMSG/Shane point. The most distinct patterns are in outgoing mail and the picture for
Kenya is bizarre while Tanzania and Uganda display trends of self-referencing regularity.

Figure DF1




Figure DF2




Figure DG1




Fido + Bitnet

Figure DG2




Figure DH1





Figure DH2




Asia Pacific

Figure DI1





Figure DI2





Kenya and Uganda share the European bias but while the plot dips in line with the rise of
the US for Kenya at the 1995 midpoint, the opposite is shown for Uganda and a similar kink
is shown for Tanzania. The three countries are being influenced by the gravities of different
service providers and the mean of their collective throughputs obscures their user profiles.
HealthNet traffic is rising as outbound mail and faxes are steadily increasing (though not
proportionately for Uganda) and African traffic rises, inbound and outbound, across the
board. This trend in the dying statistics marks a constancy of continental communication
while other email substitutes cover much of the intercontinental traffic and marks the
durability of FidoNet in the African context.

Inputs/Outputs – Changing sizes and ratios

If FidoNet had endured, its client base would have shifted towards African communicators
yet these customers were not enough to support a financial surplus needed when
communications were routed via London. UNEP provided a form of escape yet the
institutional and commercial possibility of this kind of low cost, low overhead, ‘ appropriate
technology’ was slipping. Some of the implications of these changes are located in
incoming and outgoing traffic and are revealed by looking at the balances. This is shown in
the two pictures of changing direction ratios and sizes shown in Figure DJ. Message sizes
grew over the time period. The average email from Uganda increased by 172% – from
2499 bytes to 4290 bytes – between 1996 and 1997 and incoming message sizes had
grown steadily at around 46% per year.

These continuous increases were one of the reasons why systems became unreliable
while the costs to be borne through telephone bills were affected by a declining message
terms of trade. The right hand graph shows the growth in incoming messages outstripping
growth in outgoing messages. As both directions are ultimately billed to Ugandan users by
incremental per minute phone charges then users were sending less proportionately for
their money. These three forces – huge traffic volumes, message terms of trade and per
minute costs – rather than the ‘ appropriateness’ 1 of technology forced international traffic
towards leased satellite connections, towards the lowest technical denominator and to
Internet protocol.

The knock on effects of this change were threefold. First there were higher entry level costs
for service providers and operational overheads which meant only those with access to
borrowing and foreign exchange could compete at this level. Secondly users had to have
terminals with Windows-based operating systems as DOS neither fully supported off-the
shelf SLIP/PPP and SMTP/POP nor alternatives – UUCP or Fido to UUCP, presenting
implementational difficulties. Third, the switch to SLIP/PPP led to a spatial divide between
those with access to reliable connections and those far from exchanges or on poorly
maintained main lines and ‘ last miles’ . The protocol was less reliable, slower than Fido and
meant that domestic connection costs, borne by users and not hosts, rose in proportion to
poor line quality.

Measured by access costs and durability of transmissions
End of Fido
Figure DJ
Message ratios and sizes

Emailing had been transplanted into East Africa and thrived and developed. A base of skills
and enthusiasm had been built up in the health and university sector supported by the
'missionary' work of GreenNet in London. The last whole year of Fido dominance, mid
1994-5, saw the birth of four commercial services and a shift in the technology paradigm.
There were two break points: the interface between African email systems and Internet;
and the professionalisation and pressures of commercial service delivery.

There were therefore two schools of thought and the first was the commercial path to
Internet where full competition would lead to efficient allocation of resources. The technical
leap would be made and backtracking would have to fill in stages of connectivity missed
between. Karanja Gakio describes how he saw the market and the Fido emailing system in

This arrangement [Fido] worked well but was fraught with frustration for those who
were not computer experts. Amongst the system's problems were address schemes
which required a lot of work in order to ensure compatibility with Internet addresses, the
inability to run reliably on platforms other than DOS, and user interfaces which could
never aspire to impress non-technical users....We recognised at that time that in order
for e-mail and associated technologies to become more widespread in Africa, and to
become a practical necessity for people other than personal computer technicians it
would be essential to develop a system which eliminated all of these issues and
more...This approach solidified our approach to Internet networking in Africa-to provide
world-wide quality services using standard technologies while making allowances for
specific local needs.1

The account tallies exactly with the opinions expressed in interviews with Jean-Paul Minet
of InfoMail, Uganda and Adam Messer of CyberTwiga, Tanzania and it was the underlying
rationale for the business risk of live Internet. The common legacy of the three was to
initiate some of the first live Internet services in East Africa and they led the leap towards

Karanja Gakio, Co-founder and VP for Technical Operations, Africa Online, Beyond Basic Connectivity in
Africa: AfricaOnline's continental approach Speech at 1st Kenyan Internet Conference 1995
the high technology software and systems that link to the Internet backbone. Figure DK
gives some of the co-ordinates for the technology choices confronting all service providers
at the time.

Figure DK:
Characterising technology choice for email
System reliability OK Excellent Excellent
Transfer reliability Excellent Good OK
Local Speed Excellent Good OK
User Cost Excellent Excellent Good
System Cost Excellent Excellent Poor
Abilities LimitedLimitedWide

The second school of thought, by those content with progressive technological change,
sought a co-operative regional initiative. This would be configured with Fido extending
connectivity in national networks while Internet services would spread from a shared
connection. It put faith in the ability of self-regulation that had so far guided the sector and
the spirit of planning led by practitioners. Fred Bukachi of HealthNet explained the Kenyan
situation thus:

'... there appears to be a danger that increasing competition will fragment the market
and won't generate the economies of scale that would allow investment in a shared
leased line... there is an opportunity - if we, electronic service providers, can co-
ordinate ourselves - to save money and improve our services.

The East African Internet Association appeals to service providers ... to investigate
ways and means of pooling resources and/or seeking external financing so that
together, we may achieve what no single provider appears to be able to achieve alone -
fully Internet-connected public access services in Nairobi which, we strongly believe,
would benefit both individual users (both commercial and non-commercial) and East
Africa as a whole.

The alternative is the electronic equivalent of the matatu - a service that's cheap, but
overcrowded and prone to accidents'2

The core of the arguments focused on whether it is possible, in a technical metaphor, to

connect remote people and with what protocol. However FidoNet was cut short and
drowned by Internet. By 1997 its obituary had been written. Charles Musisi relates how IP
was accommodated and how Fido became a minority solution:

'There were well over a thousand Fido points [terminals with email addresses] in
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with some representing tens of users and some just for
personal use - mainly it was NGOs, universities, research organisations and
expatriates. Here [in Kampala] we took around three hundred calls a day at our peak
and GreenNet would call four times a day and we would exchange around a megabyte
on average [for each call]...We had a large customer base who became dependent on
making that connection and more and more new users, I think we reached the peak
around mid 1994. Then we had problems. We were running the place like a business
but the lines became very busy and we were dependent on those phone calls to
GreenNet whose system started to fail. The only solution we could see was to start
sending over a leased line and reliability was going down and users were starting to
‘ lose’ emails. We couldn't keep up with the capacity and couldn't fund a line at around

Message posted on East African Internet Association mailing list, Dec 1995
US$5000 per month. A fully commercial Fido service started up with our help but there
was a 'respectful rebellion' by some of our users as they called it. The next year they
[as InfoMail Uganda Limited] were organised enough to install a VSAT connection to
Colorado and were offering Internet services. Another company arrived to compete with
them, StarCom, and then the speed and simplicity of email over IP was introduced.
They used off the shelf software designed for American telephone lines which was
slower and unreliable in its own way but many users had good lines and they offered
the interactive services too.

It took us another year to negotiate the use of their satellites to send email rather than
telephone to London but our customer base had been halved and the selling point of
Fido as an appropriate technology was drowned by enthusiasm for the web
services....It was all influenced by bigger business selling the same idea and using
lazier technologies they could 'buy' cheaper and in bulk...Fido still has a place and we
still use the technology but there are few developments to make it as user friendly as
Eudora and no real money going into it....I would say that we bred a generation of
technicians here and Uganda has the largest number of home grown system operators
and managers of Internet in East Africa.'3

Coda: Infolation
The chance of a locally influenced technology that had a hardware cost (x86/DOS) and
communication durability (Fido v SMTP/PPP) advantages was set to one side. The change
to Internet reshaped the sector dramatically and required substantial investment in
hardware and connections. Where Fido email service could be reliably operated with two
phone lines, two 386 PCs and two modems, an Internet Service Provider4 requires capital
outlays of hundreds of thousands of dollars – an Internet router; two high specification
computers; a rack of modems; at least a dozen incoming phone lines; plus the cost of the
Internet connection. Instead of handling short, bursty email traffic, an ISP has to allow
longer duration connections to offer web browsing sessions for customers. It requires a
technical and institutional reconfiguration to a fully commercial environment at a different
scale of financing and risk.

The scale of the investment requires a reconfiguration of the business plan with a shift in
labour resources – marketing and administrative staff outnumbering technicians. At the
core of any ISP business strategy is the need to cover predicable and fixed overheads by
user subscriptions while advertising, promotions and service quality/innovation are all
engaged to promote the brand in competitive markets. The art of staying ahead or even
survival is to predict change which in East Africa are those of external technology and local
regulation. Regulation will be dealt with in Chapter Six while technology change remains
the focus here.

Electronic mail remains essentially similar to its state in the mid-1970s and protocols are
still saying ‘ hello, I am so and so, receive, send, goodbye’ . However this is one stability in a
sea of change which is most often determined by changes at the centres of research and
development in industrialised countries. Figure DL gives some scales of these
dependencies in relation to levels of information technology deployment and their
requirements. It shows that a high technology such as Internet requires modern and
externally determined systems and procedures to function and develop.
Interview, Charles Musisi, Kampala April 1999
Internet Service Providers provide telephone and leased line Internet services and control public access
Figure DL: Characterising technology level
High Technology Low Technology
Power Dependent Dependent
Poor telephone Lines Dependent Independent
Upgrading Dependent Less dependent
Foreign Exchange Dependent Less dependent

The forces of change in information technology have driven an upward exponential spiral of
performance for operating systems, hardware, software and information throughput. It is
what I term infolation where human and technical investments in information technology
rapidly become redundant.5 Increasing memory, storage, and data transfer speeds feed
and feed off larger programs, greater databases and market expectation. The means of
remaining level are continual investments maintenance, training and upgrades which
themselves add to the dynamic.

The wide front of speculation has continued through the 1990s and is based on space
reduction through the fetish of miniaturisation, the instantiation of technical processes and
a vortex of technical efficiency. This is based on distanciated research and development
spaces but in industrialised countries where information investment is accumulated and
concentrated. East Africa has lowered both customs duties and indirect taxes6 for IT goods
allowing a current of imports into the region.7 Imports are standardised for western markets
– for instance there are no Swahili language products or add-ons available – and the local
market is not large enough to warrants any customisation or glocalisation of applications. 8

A problem experienced by ISPs is the effect of local users falling behind infolation in
equipment terms. Form-Net in Kenya states that most of its 2000 users have the 16-bit
Windows 3.x9 as an operating system and will probably not be able to upgrade with their
present hardware. The latest web browsers10 are 32-bit only, requiring possibly a change of
computer to operate them. Browser usability lifetimes are between 2 and 3 years because
of infolation in the hypertext and JavaScript languages and so over 1000 computers will be
effectively web redundant in the year 200011. The methodology has already shown statistics
of infolation which gave an approximate quantification the change factors over four years at
20 times for processors, memory by 104 and storage by 12 times.

It is the smaller consumers that have the least leverage and who lose the most in these
mailing and browser and operating system ‘ wars’ and East Africa is very marginal to the
epicentre of change. Technical improvements such as in modem technology do not make
an impact where telephone lines are poor and reliable modems are costly. Off the shelf
technology allows data transfer speeds over conventional telephone lines that can

For example, this section is on its third upgrade, its fourth computer, its third operating system and in its third
word-processing format
Uganda has zero-rated VAT for software and hardware, Kenya’s rate is 5% , while Tanzania’s remains at 20%
The only import statistics available are for Tanzania which imported 26,000 computer units in 1988: Tairo A
(1999) ‘Lower Duty on IT to Spur Demand in Tanzania’ East African 24th June 1999
Although Nicholas Negroponte claimed his brother was working on a Swahili web browser. Personal
communication, March 1995.
1994 technology
Netscape5 and Internet Explorer5/Windows98 as I write.
excluding any ‘millennium bug’ problems
approach 2Mb per second using xDSL technology without repeaters and conventional
modems currently attain 56k per second. In East Africa, non-digital lines 12 can effectively
slow this to 2.4k or 9.6k.

The forces against this Microsoft-Intel, ‘ Wintel’ driven connectivity fetishism are based in
the USA and according to Martin Wolf, writing in the Financial Times, ‘ Behind the dislike for
Microsoft is also a range of powerful interests. As the late Mancur Olsen pointed out in his
classic, The logic of collective action, producers are always a more effective lobby than
consumers because the amount they need to expand on the political process is trivial
compared with the gains each of them seeks.’ 13 This may run against the grain of a trend
towards open source software (OSS) where hundreds of thousands of lines of code in a
program are available, uncompiled, to developers and users. Linux and Netscape are
following this pattern and Linux is the preferred operating system of most East African

A further direct influence within Internet is based on the bandwidth of actual regional data
connections. Infrastructure is being deployed that will offer only a shadowy scale of the vast
fibre optic networks that will sometime speed developed countries towards high capacity
and high bandwidth connections. There are indications that infolation is spreading to fibre
technologies. Chapter Six deals with these larger connections and shows improvements in
the efficiency of these connections. Currently the ‘ state of the art’ seems to be the i-21
Interoute Group’ s plan for a petabit14 pan-European network which, if their advertising is to
be believed, could carry 15 billion simultaneous phone calls or 1.5 million concurrent
downloads of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.15 Meanwhile urban ISPs in East Africa and
their users clamour to run the same software and access the same services as their rich
cousins with the same efficiency. Intermediate data transfer systems and appropriate
solutions are the way forward.
The marketing-meets-technology solution to this has been to promote a form of isolation or
replication: convincing users they share the same global space but keeping them at home.
Chat, news and mirroring are the specific technical names for this. Chat is interaction in a
virtual locale, news is the replication of a single global signal to multiple local users,
mirroring means locating and updating popular and data intensive global sites and software
locally. Actual international connections are saved by these methods of utilising cheap
storage costs and keeping users on local machines. This avoids Internet traffic jams
caused by repeated and replicated retrieval of large lumps of data from remote locations
reached over satellite connections.

The next section will investigate the actual realities of FidoNet email traffic and explain the
statistical basis for some of these claims. With a parallel analysis of country connectivity by
telephone, the Ugandan data used helps to fix East African trends in international traffic
currents. It shows the inputs, outputs and balances of connections from unique datasets

For example most Ugandan lines outside of Kampala including the congested Kampala-Entebbe route
Martin Wolf Comment and analysis Financial Times, 10th March 1998
1 million gigabytes per second. Transfers of 1 terabyte (1,000 gigabytes per second) were achieved in 1995
so it seems sensible to design these capacities into new mainline networks. The best current operating speeds
are with the NEO StreamProcessor 2400 which supports 8 terabits of bandwidth
Interoute (1999) The future is in our hands Advertising blurb.,
covering a period where the supremacy of telephone networks began to be undermined by

Fixing Uganda in Fido and Telephone traffic

The African angle and the progressive use of the technology as a development tool passed
into a wider galaxy of connections mediated by commercial control and new, national
Internet regulation. FidoNet had kick-started electronic mailing and had given a regional
boost to connectivity where state sponsored schemes had failed to enliven interest outside
of limited sectors. There was a medium to strong presence for Uganda, Kenya, and
Tanzania in traffic too despite the presumed influence of South Africa. Figure DM shows
this from the Uganda perspective.

An investigation of country by country connections reveals the significant position of the UK

and US as senders and recipients of electronic mail – also to be shown for telephone
connections. The plots of ‘ top 15’ countries and by size volume16 in figures DN1 and DN2
show that in the four year period, 5 countries and the FidoNet/Mailing list section are visible
in the incoming data while outgoing traffic displays a better definition of country ‘ bands’ .
The narrowness of incoming bands for most countries and due to low traffic levels displays
the in-built structuring of traffic towards the US and UK and slow response to the
technology. Newsgroups are important at the beginning of the plots and are subsumed into
new formations and dominated by other entrants to the dataset.

At the peak of traffic levels, in 1996, there is growing differentiation and nation-by-nation
compilation of the figures has shown the growth of regional and local traffic. Kenya,
Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia’ s presence is reflecting stronger regional communications.
By the time UK and US levels are subsiding and the traffic is moving onto direct Internet
connections they are even better represented. There is another change here outside the

Figure DM

statistics. FidoNet service providers started to charge flat rate fees, gambling that this
would retain customers who were tending to send larger emails. This flat rate component
did not in fact create any more gains. Incoming traffic and incoming message sizes were
increasing with knock– on effects for overheads created by the growing international call
costs they produced.
There seems to be little difference between size and volume plots
Outgoing mail might have short-circuited this problem with better ‘ hubbing’ – an
arrangement like a regional roundabout. The UNEP connection offered such a facility and if
traffic had all been routed through the UNEP Nairobi connection then this might have made
savings however the telephone lines, even within Kenya were appalling and a satisfactory
throughput could not be achieved. Traffic was still going over faster, more reliable
international lines but messages that were even to be exchanged with other local ISPs over
this route incurred these call costs. Mail from Kampala was not showing the late but
sweeping rebalancing of traffic towards Africa. Proportions of contact countries remained
fairly constant and the high levels of mails to the US dipped in 1996 but were perpetuated
into the FidoMail slump. A strong band of European traffic apart from the UK persisted but
the number of countries in the Top 15 communicators was only one greater – 25 to 24 –
than for incoming traffic. There were only ten extra countries appearing in this measure
over the four years.

Telephone traffic presents an immediate comparison to FidoNet. Although the compressed

emails do not seem to make a strong individual presence in country-by-country telephone
data - they are part of the incoming United Kingdom traffic and caught in a large upswell of
these communications from 1993. They help position Uganda in the world through the
conventional and log run statistics of the public telephone network as it was on the edge of
a threat from data traffic. Fido was the vanguard.

Figure DN1






Figure DN2







Telephones and country traffic
Uganda in East Africa and the World
The four charts, D01, D02, DP1, DP2 show the top 15 countries in yearly traffic between
1986 and 1996. The data shows the consistency of communications and their ranking
percentage, showing growth and shrinkage. They are the extensions of Uganda or –
removing the ambiguity of terms – communications bonds. They reveal the repeated paths
of telephone subscribers in terms of continental – charts DO1 and DO2 – and
intercontinental – charts DP1 and DP2 – traffic currents.

This scale is governed by the incoming and outgoing patterns shown in previous charts and
the entire two-way African communications (the data excludes Kenya and Tanzania)
represent 184,000 and 1,945,000 calls for 1986 and 1986 respectively. This enormous
increase displays many trends and the first examples are shown for southern Africa. In
1986, apartheid was a huge force of political stalemate, southern Africa excluding South
Africa accounted for 32% of incoming African traffic and 59% of outgoing traffic while South
Africa itself comprised less than 10,500 calls to and from Uganda or 5.6% of total traffic.
Uganda also treated the bantustans of Ciskei, Transkei, Venda and Bophuthatswana1 as
separate accounting units and this distinction had not disappeared from statistics by the
end of 1996. This confuses the data mostly at the end of the 1980s where, for example, call
volumes from Transkei to Uganda were 60% higher than the data for South Africa (Shown
as TKI and ZA in Figure DO1). The changes since have been seismic and the data has
been corrected by new scales of interconnections. Up to 1996, traffic between Uganda and
all southern African countries has risen to 70% of incoming and 57% of outgoing calls.
South Africa’ s contribution has reached over 50% of incoming and just under 40% of
outgoing. The changes are well represented visually and show the balances within growing
volumes shifting away from Zambia and Zimbabwe to South Africa in both incoming and
outgoing traffic (Shown as ZZ, ZW and ZA2 respectively in figures DO1 and DO2)

Spelt wrong in the plots, a carry over form the original UPTC data
Appendix Three carries a full listing of country codes and the continental splits used in the research
Figure DO1










Figure DO2











Figure DP1







Figure DQ1
Grouping of African countries ranked by regularity and volume of outgoing telephone
calls Figure DP2

Regular High Irregular High Regular Low Irregular Low Never




Figure DQ2
Grouping of African countries ranked by regularity and volume of incoming telephone

Regular High Irregular High Regular Low Irregular Low


Figure DR1
Grouping of countries ranked by regularity and volume of outgoing
telephone calls (World)

Regular high Irregular high volume Regular low Irregular

volume volume low volume Never



Figure DR2
Grouping of countries ranked by regularity and volume of incoming telephone calls

Regular High Irregular High Regular Low Irregular Low Never




Overall this southern African bias dominates the graphs and, with the enormous East
African traffic seen in the very first graph, it shows a massive preference for telephone
communications with English speaking and former British colonies. This method points to a
technical-economic configuration and a cultural configuration of communications. A ranking
method complements these figures and shows different nuances and other significant links.
Using statistics of irregular versus regular communications on one scale with a further
differentiation of high and low volumes against a shifting mean, there are five resulting
categorisations of countries. These are shown in figure DP1 for incoming traffic and DP2
for outgoing traffic.

The rankings present comparative importance in telephone traffic relationships and Kenya
and Tanzania are included as they clearly fit into the pattern without compromising the
integrity of data. The picture presented does not seem to correlate with patterns of
measured trade which are shown in Figure DS while IMF aid figures are ambiguous, with
‘ Arab countries’ grouped together. A tentative hypothesis is that the figures meld a wide
range of weights with impacts from language and culture, shared colonial roots and
Uganda’ s place as a fulcrum between Arabic, Nilotic and Bantu influences.

The categorisations are characteristic of stabilities and currents over the time period and
incoming and outgoing datasets show fluctuating relationships with neighbours Somalia
and Rwanda and sometime patron, Libya. However the similarity in patterns shows
underlying continuity despite the disruptive influences of conflicts on the continent. These
have influenced directions and volumes of traffic with Sudan, Liberia, Eritrea and Angola
while technical-economic patterns overlay cultural barriers in traffic with francophone West
Africa. These are where
Figure DS Telephone and trade ranks serious disagreements
over the Panaftel system
Regular and irregular high outgoing Official trading partners
and accounting rates have
volume countries 1986-1996 (rank) 1990-1996 (rank)
Kenya Kenya been fought out.3 There
Tanzania South Africa are only a few disparities
South Africa Tanzania between the incoming and
Ethiopia Zimbabwe
outgoing patterns.
Egypt Tunisia
Zimbabwe Rwanda Lusophone Equatorial
Zambia Burundi Guinea was not called
Burundi Mauritius from Uganda for the entire
Libya Zambia period while Venda and
Nigeria Madagascar
Ciskei sit incongruously in
Botswana Algeria
Sudan the same categorisation of
Côte D’Ivoire (i/r) ‘ never called’ . With these
Rwanda (i/r) Sources: UPTC and IMF (1997) exceptions, there have
been only small shifts up
and down the rankings ‘ ladder’ and the data indicates a regular pattern to African data.
World Data
The close-up view of African traffic is dwarfed by the larger volumes of global telephone
calls shown in Figures DQ1, DQ2, DR1 and DR2 which close this section. At this scale the

See for instance CTO 1998:30, Nuruddin 1996:5-6
dominance of the United States and the United Kingdom is evident and especially in
incoming traffic. The proportion of incoming traffic from Britain has declined in favour of the
United States, Canada and South Africa. France, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Germany and
the United Arab Emirates are the other countries to have maintained both their rank and
volume throughout the period while Japan, India and South Africa’ s significance have more
recently been asserted.

In terms of outgoing traffic, in Figure DQ1, there is a more distributed pattern and Uganda’ s
choices in placing outside calls are both more catholic and show that the British share is
being eroded. In this case it is due to a wider range of contacts and not just because of
traffic to the United States. The pattern, character and motivation for calls vary between
incoming and outgoing traffic. Calls from Uganda show a pattern based on communications
necessities where the pathways offer fewer incoming substitutes – call back and Fido email
– and there is a ‘ willingness to pay’ on the part of callers.

Consistency has been maintained in the statistics for Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany,
Canada and the Emirates and this broadly correlates with incoming traffic. Proportions of
calls to Zimbabwe, Israel, Sweden and Eire have declined amidst the growing number of
contacts. These are connections that were tilted towards the legacies of trade and solidarity
in the era of apartheid, untied aid and the rule of Obote and Amin. Their positions have
been taken up by India and South Africa from 1992-1993. A late entrant has been Pakistan
which adds to evidence of a trend towards stronger links with larger, British influenced, post
colonial states. Another trend of emigrant and expatriate contacts remains unmeasured but
would be reflected in these links plus traffic with the UK, Canada and the United States.

Ranking statistics in Figures DR1 and DR2 provide a very wide field of measurement yet
show similar examples for incoming and outgoing categories. The main difference between
the figures is that there are more regular outgoing contacts. This echoes the top 15
statistics from Figure DQ2 and incoming traffic shows a greater tendency towards
inconsistent communications while the traffic is characterised in the form of low income
nations. For both categories, contacts are maintained with leading countries, in terms of the
sizes of their populations and economies, and also with aid-giving countries, trading
‘ partners’ and wherever there are numbers of expatriate and refugee Ugandans. The lower
portion of the regular high volume column also contains countries that fall just outside the
top 15, notably China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Irregular contacts contain the rising
economy of South Korea as a complement to these three East Asian giants but mainly
reflect broken state formations such as the former USSR 4 and the former Yugoslavia.
Slovenia itself shows a high level of outgoing traffic but is low down for incoming traffic,
perhaps indicating that it was cheaper or easier to call from Uganda than from a country on
the edges of conflict. The Vatican broke its duck as a ‘ non-communicating’ country when it
made a series of calls in 1993 – the year of the Pope’ s visit to Uganda – but hasn’ t called

Which is shown between Antigua and the Netherlands Antilles in outgoing data and between Lithuania and
Puerto Rico for incoming data
Networking histories to Internet
Figure DT below shows the timescale of networking technologies and the means by which
they have been disseminated and funded. FidoNet email was an a product of the
partnership of telephone and small personal computer-based technology in an environment
of possibility created by the flexibility and structures of funding on which the non-
government sectors. Subsidy, creativity, local knowledge and experimentation allowed the
adoption of a half-way technology between commercial and not-for-profit, between public
network and Internet.

The telegraph was developed by a partnership between innovation and the state with the
intervention of monopoly telegraph companies. The Internet was developed from military
communications by universities and has only attracted commercial backing in its maturity.

Figure DT
Networking timescale

Countries on the economic periphery have not enjoyed these highly subsidised networks
and do not have the economic capability to extend research into such high technology and
capitalised areas nor to compete and indigenise.

Deconstructing the Internet

Configurations of technology emphasise junctions in space where control is exercised.
Internet addressing and routing systems are not based on fixed junctions but set endpoints.
The structuring of addresses of Internet hosts, localhosts, relays and hubs are based on a
numbered system that underlies the usual or named addresses.
Access and types of access are determined by the availability of addresses. This is shown
by a short analysis of addressing shown in the relationships between Internet connected
wide area networks and displayed in Figure DU.1. They describe points of interconnection
where human agency operates and regulation, manipulation and surveillance are possible.
Flows of messages do not exist outside of polity, society and economy. Internet addressing
itself has entailed the explicit structuring of a global caste system.

The information given in the case study below is freely available but hidden amongst the expert systems of
Internet addressing.
Figure DU
IP Addresses Internet Protocol (IP) numbered addresses
determine access and structure within the
The technological structure of the Internet
has been designed using addressing Internet. They were awarded implicitly
hierarchies. These are Classes A, B and structurally according to the presumed
C. importance of the organisation, historically on
a first come first serve basis. The unthought of
Allocative power of IP address Classes
consequences have been almost total
A 255 x 255 x 255 = geographical weighting to the United States.
>16.5 million subdomains They reflect, in fast frozen terms, the power
B 255 x 255 = structures within networked computing and
65 000 subdomains the military-industrial complex2. They also
C 255 subdomains
reflect the time they were assigned, in the
Of the 45 published or unreserved Class A early 1980s. The decisions of a very small
Internet domains: group of people in the face of unknown
futures have been reproduced and reinforced
Geography in the present.
39 in the United States
5 in Europe
1 in Japan The most feasible fix to this problem has a
technical one, and Internet2 has been driven
Structure by the creation of another level of addressing
25 commercial (108 versus 105) but side-stepping a complete
17 government reconfiguration of legacy protocols, networks,
3 educational routers, switches and machines from the
Internet as we know it. Until its full
Operations implementation there will still be competition
12 military networks for addresses and consequent pressures on
9 telecommunications late entrants to this global computer network.
The address space3 of class A domains is
9 computer companies 16.5 million subdomains while for class C it is
4 industrial 255. Entire developing countries compete for
manufacturers remaining class B and class C addresses with
4 national large and often transnational corporations or
government agencies
Internet service providers in industrialised
3 pharmaceutical
countries. The current cost of a single,
3 universities named, Internet domain (which can comprise
1 financial one Class C subdomain) is US$100 per year4.
institution The Ford Motor Company and Eli Lilley
pharmaceuticals each hold a single Class A
domain although their contribution to the
Internet is fractional and Bolt, Beranek and Newman Inc5 holds three Class A domains. The

I never imagined I would use this phrase but it is an ideal description
Hunt states that ‘the range of addresses is called the address space’ (Hunt 1992:73)
In 2000 the price has come down to +/- $20 which still gives a potential yearly gross of 16.5 million X $20 =
$330,000,000 for each Class A address holder!!
A relatively anonymous computer company in Cambridge, Massachusetts
allocative powers of IP domains, awarded from being in the right place at the right time and
knowing the right people and procedures, are immense.

IP addresses represent points of exchange as shown in Figure DV. Information is moved
between computers in physical locations that, if viewed from a distance, could be construed
as a flow. The reality is a series of interlinked, automated routing mechanisms maintained

Figure DV Hierarchy of IP mechanisms

Locale Mediator Class

Host/machine Terminal user local interface C subdomain

Modem Modulator demodulator digital

analogue translator

Localhost Mailbox middle man work station C bundle

Router Mapper addresser stamper

Relay Down station up station B

Signal box

Hub A
by humans. For the end users of electronic mailing systems, the physical address of a
machine, for instance in a World Wide Web page, represents an area within a computer
where the information is held. For an electronic mail address it represents the area (spool)
where the recipients messages are held for collection. In between are various staging
points where the messages and data are routed. They are the locales of the host or
terminal where the messages are received or constructed by direct human-computer
interaction; the localhost which operates as the container and distributor of electronic mail
and data used to construct knowledge bases and World Wide Web pages and interfaces; it
is the co-ordination unit of the internal and external networks operating linking
mechanisms; the relay is the peer network; the hub is the centre of communications
operations and the automated point of reference for addresses and routing.

Connections can be routed to any connected machine or passed through a gateway to a

non-Internet wide area network, for security or for economy. Large industrial corporations
or government institutions are often interlinked by private networks. There are three
advantages: security of information, surveillance of a closed network and avoiding the need
for many Internet addresses. These private networks are expensive and can only interact

with larger networks through small, tightly controlled entry and exit points and firewalls.
They are live regions that are closely policed. At the other end of the connectivity spectrum,
telephone based store and forward systems have virtually disappeared and their wide use

Figure DW
Area of expertise
Networks 15 Corporate HQ
Telecoms 12 Canada 2
Computers 6 United States 31
Phone manufacturers 2 United Kingdom 2
Research 1 Sweden 2
Media 1 Germany 2
Applications 1 Japan 3
Training 12
General 3
by human rights groups and NGOs have been overtaken by Internet model of homepages.
The two types of external networks, represent degrees of live connection – the first through
control and security, the second through economic choice and infrastructure constraints –
have been replaced by higher level – satellite and cable – connectivity distinctions.

Information is pushed around global networks with constant reference to peers whose
ability to activate or suspend networks is greatly enhanced under Internet2. These peers
are predominantly US based or rooted in the US network. Issues of sovereignty have also
introduced national filtering systems. In Singapore a national ‘ proxy-server’ equates to a
filtering gateway through which all legal users of IP must be routed. In Kenya, all Internet
connections that bypass state supplied connectivity are technically illegal. Systems in
developing countries are have been under three techno-authoritarian pressures. The lack
of Internet addresses as described above and the next two – new national controls and
dependence on US routing mechanisms – are discussed in the next chapter.

Internet 2
The further development of Internet has been named variously IPv6, IPng 6 and Internet 2. It
is a project of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development with 150 US
research institutions7 and 50 corporations as members. Of the 50 corporations, 41 names
are obtainable and their breakdown by area of expertise and location of corporate
headquarters is shown in Figure DW.

The pattern from the allocation of Internet addresses appears to be very different from
those involved in the development of Internet2. Of course, there will be a shift back to the
historical pattern of power, ownership and control that remains the military-industrial
complex but there has been great movement. The composition of members shows a
massive bias towards networking companies (Cisco, Newbridge, Nortel/Bay Networks,
Lucent) and telecommunications companies (AT&T, Sprint, BT, Deutsche Telekom, MCI).
Already one member, Fore Inc, has been taken over by US giant GEC and the full

Next generation – a StarTrek  reference
And a numbers of overseas institutions not mentioned in the Internet2 brochure
configuration of the corporate infrastructure of Internet2 still has to be worked through as
the technology is implemented.

The protocol itself will introduce a core division in traffic which will be to the advantage of
some and not to others. It will introduce traffic management that will prioritise certain
connections, those of streaming media and others not yet clarified thus removing the
democracy – all traffic is equal – of Internet as we know it. The contested parts of the new
protocol are two new headers for the packet transmission: ‘ Priority (4 bits). The priority
value for the packet and Flow Label (24 bits). Where a host uses the field to request that a
network's routers perform special handling on the packet‘ 8 The benefits will be for ‘ tele-
immersion, digital libraries and virtual laboratories’ 9 that could help large institutions such
as the African Virtual University.10 However public datacommunications at the end of a thin
satellite connection will definitely start at a greater disadvantage unless they are prioritised.

Overall effects
The direct social and economic effects of the new media in East Africa has been mitigated
by a lesser penetration of communications due to smaller markets. Capital intensive
changes are slowed down and beyond the control of the ‘ unconnected’ . Communication
potential was limited at first: to the state, international financial and ‘ development’
institutions and diplomatic missions and second: to the middle level and the wealthy or
those on international salaries.

These will be served well by the fast, secure and high capacity links provided by such
projects as AT&T’ s Africa One. Similar to the telegraph, the first wave of this next shift in
ratios of information exchange will be limited to expatriates, venture capital and
government. What is new is that pathways to new communication patterns can be followed
from any telephone line and with a regular power supply. There is more communication
potential than with the telegraph but there are many areas and regions that will never be
connected and there are complex issues of infrastructure and technical literacy to

The main issue for future study is over control of the new channels of communication and
the spaces they create. Newly independent nations have to articulate between certain
control of geopolitical spaces to new forms of control in virtual and stateless spaces owned
by companies nominally located in the territory of the former colonial powers. Policy and
international reflection, negotiation and financing, hold the key to a viable political economy
of the Internet in East Africa.

Stallings W (1996) Data and computer communications Prentice Hall, Hemel Hempstead
Internet2 brochure, UCAID, 1999
See Chapter Eight
Chapter Six
Externally driven change and the redefinition of the
telecommunications sector

Actuaries and auditors compute precise marketing outcomes and pinpoint the needs of
development subjects while patron-client relationships are sidelined by tranched
disbursements laden with conditionality. Digital efficiency and certainty is overwhelming the
modulation and contingency of analogue. The two processes of first, liberalisation and
privatisation and second, the digitalisation of the telecommunications sector have run
synchronously for East African countries. In industrialised countries, the market and
technology continue to restructure economic modes and have already shifted the role of
the state from provider to regulator and replaced dumb terminals with intelligent networks.

The impact and demonstration effect of these forces in East Africa has been for the state to
renegotiate its position and this has involved facing outside pressures to reform both itself
and state service provision in a ‘ modern’ model of a timely and honest – cumpridor –
broker. Posts and Telecommunications corporations (PTTs) have been offering and
licensing better and more lucrative services yet there remain gaps between local and
international services. International services have traditionally subsidised the domestic
network and recently these revenues have been under attack from the world market, new
information delivery systems and donors.

Chapters Six and Seven introduce the agglomeration and separation of the
telecommunications ‘ whole’ by regulation, technology, ideology and practice. They give
context and an analysis of forces in political economy and technology. The telegraph
initiated the process, moving relationships onto the electromagnetic spectrum. As Giddens
put it: ‘ The separation of communication from transportation which the telegraph
established is as significant as any prior invention in human history’ .11 Next the technical
paradigm moved to the telephone while in the present day it is data that underlies
communications transportation. This chapter closes in on the impact of data on the
telephone system and its regulatory implications while the next examines the settling of
data into East African use and newly installed networks of technology and procedure.

Washington calling
The position of PTTs and government has been fought from a status of dependency on
external funding and these forces have also helped to drive demands for privatisation. The
World Bank has seen domestic telecommunications as the most important sector for
restructuring. Its view has been shaped by impasses over financing infrastructure and what
it sees as an underprovision of possible telephone connectivity – putting people on the
phone. As the largest external funder of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania’ s physical
restructuring programmes it has been an advocate of liberalisation and privatisation. These
inevitably impact on email, Internet and external telecommunications policy as components
of the whole while domestic telecommunications themselves imply access points to these

Giddens 1985:175
wider-spaced services. Their 1995 view, at the beginning of the process of rolling out
Internet and rolling back the PTTs, is put very forcefully by Peter Knight1

'(W)hat has been lacking is the political will to establish this [Internet} connectivity. In
most cases relatively inefficient monopoly state telecom companies – often in a
retrograde symbiosis with short-sighted Ministries of Finance and authoritarian political
systems which fear the free flow of information – stand in the way. They have not been
willing to give a VSAT license to private Internet service providers (ISPs), and have not
themselves provided this service. But perhaps this is going to change soon, as
privatization, competition, and access to such elements of the GII as the Africa 1
project provide new incentives.

Let me very clear about this. While this is not the universal rule in Africa, in many
countries such inefficient monopolies are preventing the flow of the life blood of the
knowledge-based economy into which we are moving so rapidly -- information, the
access to humankind's common knowledge base, and the ability of their own nationals
to contribute to this knowledge base. In most cases they cannot meet even the
expressed demand for traditional telephony services. It takes months, if not years (or a
very substantial bribe), to get to the head of line waiting to get such services. These
services are rendered at prices which are far above those paid in countries which
recognize information to be a vital economic asset. If the prices for telephony services
reflected the true costs of providing them in a competitive, information-friendly
environment, the demand would be much greater. And they are not even offering the
Internet services most needed today as the first step toward building a modern NII. If
there is less demand for traditional services at high prices, and domestic and
international companies tell us that they are willing to invest in providing these services
more efficiently and cheaper, the problem is not economic or technological. It is
political, regulatory, and organizational..'2

His points are clearly aimed at countries like Kenya – guilty on all the counts above – but
also apply at times to Tanzania and Uganda. It is the threat to such valuable national
assets as infrastructure, providing locally generated revenue streams and employment, that
are their defence and these strategic views are not articulated in Knight’ s polemic.

The full processes of privatisation and liberalisation are given space in the next chapter
where the detail of Internet, email and digital telecommunications regulation are set out.
Space is given here to the triangulation of the country in terms of shifting global patterns of
telephone links and analysing direct impacts from external liberalisation of traffic and rates.
This acts as a constant for calibrating changes by taking a larger, wider and international

New technologies have pressured PTTs to rethink long-term strategic position and make
huge structural and regulatory changes. Examples are international ‘ short-circuits’ created
by Callback,3 calling cards and Internet telephony plus the mobile phone revolution. These
short circuits have prompted a two stage action – international rates have been reduced
gradually and at the same time direct Callback technologies have been outlawed and
policed4. However further technological means are continually being deployed to outflank
Former chief of the World Bank electronic media centre and now a consultant,
Knight P et al The Information Revolution and the World Bank group (1995)
The most successful service up until 1997, run by Kallback of Seattle in the United States, allows callers to
dial an access number and register the international telephone number they wish to call. They are then called
back with a connection and charged US international rates for the call
Disconnected Economic Review October 21-27 1996 and the World Trade Organisation
the developing countries’ attempts to defend valuable international revenues and there has
been a huge growth in informal callback which utilises ever cheaper international rates in
developed countries to substitute local outgoing calls. Another example of pressure from
the collaboration of demand and technology is that of the cellular mobile phone as an
alternative rather than complementary technology. Tanzania has nearly 93,000 telephone
subscribers but a waiting list of nearly 108,000. The number of cellular telephone
subscribers has leapt from 371 in 1994 to over 20,000 in 1997 compared with 5342
subscribers in Kenya. Given a choice between no phone or a costly mobile phone, well-
heeled Tanzanians are opting for the latter.

More startling evidence is emerging from Uganda where full liberalisation has been
completed. There has been a newly licensed second national operator with a remit for
mobile and fixed line provision – Mobile Telephone Networks (MTN) of South Africa. A
report in the Monitor newspaper quotes Manzi Tumubweine 5 who says, ‘ We had asked
them to connect at least 89,000 lines in the first five years and they have so far connected
40,000 in the first year…I am happy to learn that they will install 2000 pay phones well
ahead of target’ 6 This first figure represents an 80 percent increase in national lines and is
based mainly on cellular technology. It exceeds the number of users on the waiting list 7 for
land lines by 640% and shows that MTN have created this huge demand. The company
offers a ‘ pay-as-you-go’ system that has had no service fee levied8 and with calls to fixed
lines at 15 US cents per minute and cell to cell calls at 4 cents per minute.

These bargains will not be sustainable and the market has been stretched very rapidly but
the results are remarkable. There is no measure of risk in these figures or in Knight’ s
commentary and this switch to blatant commerciality and the ‘ pile them high, sell them
cheap’ mentality. The previous mode of PTT and regulatory operation has been over-
cautious and this represents a switch to another extreme rather than fully planned and
staggered change. Mike Jensen, a pan-African consultant and advisor sums up the genesis
of the situation thus: '....national policy is often only set when the technology is introduced
by an influential company, creating ad-hoc decisions which can cause problems later....
since most of the telecom operators have a monopoly over telecommunication services of
all types, it is almost essential to involve them in some way if the license application is to
be successful. The PTT would probably need to be convinced that it cannot reliably provide
the service required through its existing infrastructure..'9 The inflection here is that a
technology gap is exposed and the state has to position itself in relation to the technology
and the prospective service provider.

Government and PTT actions are reflected in their version of national interests. Gaiv Tata
described the nature of discussions with Tanzania and Kenya as 'starting and finishing with
[the issue of] security' which could only lead to 'sub optimum solutions that will protect
some turf'. Uganda however was 'at the best end of the range where sector reform
processes are addressed by constitutional players and World Bank projects and debts
Ugandan Minister for Privatisation
Mucunguzi J (1999) ‘MTN launches Kabale network’ in The Monitor 9th August p17, the Minister also
appealed to MTN, ‘to review the radius they are currently covering and make it wider’
The last available figure, for 1996 was 6227 subscribers waiting for connection
but this was due to change in June
Interview with Mike Jensen conducted by Alan McLuskey, Kuala Lumpur 1997. Reproduced with permission.
have to be voted on by parliament'10. This suggests that Uganda has a high external
orientation with no turf to protect following twenty years of destructive civil war and that
UPTC and the state are more devolved than in Tanzania and Kenya. Indisputably,
momentum for both telecoms reform and the specification of networks and terminals is felt
both in the form of arriving technologies and in the form of financial pressures and
dependency on donors.

There are two main sections here that deal with the patterning of international telephone
traffic currents, with a particular focus on Uganda, then particulars of who she has been
communicating with over the eleven year period 1986-1996. Data both matches and
contradicts figures from FidoNet email and provides a basis for analysing the two pressures
of tariff reform and communications substitutes. These are underlined by the forces of a
changing communications biography where regional and global attractors have affected the
regularity and ranking of contacts.

Telephones and telephone traffic

The width of country detail in telephone calls and the wide range of years covered cannot
be replicated for other forms of communication – the development of electronic mail and
Internet was not world-wide and simultaneous – which leads to a different level of
comparability. Telephone traffic has seen development over a hundred years yet
international traffic with Uganda was restricted to empire between 1920 and 1945 and a
full, reliable service was not really in operation until short wave connections were replaced
by satellite and microwave connections at the end of the 1960s and the early 1970 through
IntelSat and Panaftel respectively.

These international telephone statistics have been primarily sourced from the external
telecommunications department at the former Uganda Posts and Telecommunications
Corporation but in addition include ITU data for Kenya and Tanzania. The UPTC dataset
covers the years 1986-1996 and encompasses the first years of the government of
Museveni and National Resistance Movement, IMF Structural Adjustment11 and the gradual
stabilisation of the Ugandan economy and society. The forces of technical change and tariff
adjustments are seen throughout the data and discussed in the first section – incoming and
outgoing balances. The second section closes in on country by country patterns for Africa,
taking the top 15 nations, those called and calling in, as a good approximation of underlying
trends. This is balanced by wider rankings of volume and communications consistency
throughout the period and the section ends by again widening out the analysis to world
traffic and the changes and forces left out in the first pass. Finally, the issues of
(inter)dependency are picked over and the relevance of the findings to fixed Internet
connections and regulation are itemised to be carried into the next chapter.

The in and out of Ugandan telephones

Figure EA below shows traffic in the final year of the UPTC dataset. It includes estimated
data for Kenya and Tanzania as they are not recognised as international and recorded
within domestic traffic. Communications within East Africa are treated as long distance

Interview Gaiv Tata, World Bank Representative, Uganda 25th April 1997
And enhanced structural adjustment
trunk calls and this is due to the legacy of EAPTC, dissolved in 1977. Calls are made
without routing through an intermediary and the Commonwealth Telecommunications
Organisation states that revenues are retained by the sending country through the sender-
keeps-all (SKA) system. The estimates have been made by assuming all existing circuits
are used at maximum capacity and would probably be exaggerated and not good for
comparison1 The clue for this is that the bars representing Kenya do not fit the picture
presented by other data.

The chart conveys the idea that there is greater outgoing traffic than incoming for Kenya
and the anomaly is because there are less incoming telephone circuits than outgoing
circuits. If payments were made in the SKA pattern then there would be a continuous
subsidy from Kenya to Uganda and from Uganda to Tanzania. It shows a long term
symptom of unequal relationships in the East African community and that the CTO
information might be ambiguous.

Figure EA
Uganda telephone traffic 1996
Ugandan Telephone Traffic 1996


Total call time





A fr ica Am er icas A sia Eur op e Pacific Kenya Tanz ania

Out going Incom ing

A more detailed breakdown of incoming and outgoing traffic by region is shown in figures
EC1 and EC2. This time it is without the East African figures which are estimated at
between 40% and 50% of all incoming ‘ international’ traffic and between 26% and 32% of
all outgoing ‘ international’ traffic for 1996. Table EB summarises traffic patterns between
Uganda and Tanzania/Kenya based on these figures and adding ranges of uncertainty
based on innacuracies and presumptions from the CTO data.

Table EB
Estimates of telephone traffic between Uganda and East
African countries (% of international minutes) 1996

Incoming-from Outgoing-to
Kenya 30-37 % 17-21 %
Tanzania 10-13 % 9-11 %

From a personal perspective, lines are blocked by traffic often until the small hours. However it is a
telecommunications rule that traffic falls for around 4 hours between 1am and 5am and, ignoring the weekend,
this gives a error of around 17%. These are the figures factored into the estimates in table EB
Incoming traffic and outgoing traffic show very different growth patterns yet share a similar
overall rise in volume. Incoming traffic can be characterised by a continual and rapid
growth in the period 1986-1996. The numbers of incoming telephone calls have risen at a
phenomenal rate through the 1990s and this is shown visually in Figure EC1. In the 11 year
period this translates as 15 times more calls from Africa and the Americas, 17½ times more
from Asia, while increases of 4 and 5.7 times more were recorded from European and
Pacific countries respectively.

However the traffic in this dataset is dominated by the communications with the United
States and the United Kingdom – together they only vary between 55.9% and 62.4% of the
total. If East African communications were factored into a larger total – and this can only be
a good estimate – then they make up another third of traffic. In this calculation incoming
traffic is dominated by four countries: Kenya, Tanzania, United Kingdom, United States and
together they represent 73-83 percent of all incoming communications.

The detail of the incoming traffic shown in Figure EC1 is that of a sharp growth with three
characteristics. First there is a differential between European and American traffic at X,
determined by shifting US and UK volumes, the gap is closed by 1996. Second there is a
dip in traffic from Africa and Asia in 1993 at point Y, this should be due to a fall in the
number of subscriber lines in Uganda in 1993 which will be discussed further when looking
at outgoing traffic. Lastly there is a marked increase in traffic from 1993 with the start point
at line Z and this indicates the beginning of a general, global, increase in traffic.

The growth in traffic has been due to the increased liberalisation of international
telecommunications traffic and the consequent fall in prices leading to more minutes of
telephone calls. There are now at least two established exchanges where international
telephone minutes are wholesaled to the highest bidder. These are the source of
bandwidth for calling card and Internet telephony operators. They either subdivide
connections using tunnelling mechanisms of compressed and digitised voice channels
carried by Internet Protocol or they simply resell even smaller chunks to customers. These
networks are accessed by local or freecall numbers with accounts prepaid and PIN or code
triggered security.

The rise in traffic also reflects local trends and larger number of subscriber lines installed
and used in Uganda. In the period 1993-1997 there was another factor also in play. Much
of Uganda’ s electronic mail was delivered over telephone lines and in the form of incoming
traffic. Due to the efficiency of this means – one to two hours calls per day – it does not
show up on the data yet reflects part of the general trend of growth.

Outgoing telephone calls in Figure EC2 show a more volatile pattern of growth. They
increased by smaller proportions than outgoing traffic and this is best shown in Figure ED
below – the ratio between incoming and outgoing. Calls from Uganda to international
locations themselves show significant booms and slumps, especially for traffic destined for
the Americas and Europe. These are explained by two factors. Firstly the collection rate1
which includes tariffs levied on top of the accounting rate2 – agreed between sender, relay
and receiver – varied between 1990 and 1997. These tariffs are levied unilaterally by UPTC
as the sender, and are effectively a call tax. This area of cross charging and rate fixing has
been an area of controversy where the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Figure EC1
Incoming telephone calls
Figure EC2
Uganda 1986-1996
6000000 telephone calls in minutes
Uganda 1986-1996

5000000 Europe


4000000 Americas




X Asia

1000000 Africa
500000 Y


1 986 1 987 198 8 1 989 19 90 1 991 1 992 19 93 199 4 Pacific

19 95 19 96

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996

The effective charge to the customer for the call
The costs agreed between sending and receiving organisations
has demanded unilateral action to reduce it level while the ITU has stepped in to seek a
compromise. It is dealt with in more detail below.
Outgoing tariffs surplus to the accounting rate were levied thus: July 1 st 1990 $7.50 per
minute; July 1st 1992 $5 per minute; July 1st 1994 $3 per minute3 with other reductions in
1997. Reactions to these changes were not instantaneous and seem a little perverse for
the 1990 statistics but the date of their introduction at the mid point of the year, would push
the statistical effect further along. 1990 was also a year in which traffic to the US increased
by 50 percent and doubled to the UK, trends that affect statistics are not easily stopped in
their tracks. The second factor that affected outgoing traffic was the crackdown on non-
payment of bills and rationalisation of International Direct Dialling (IDD) procedures in 1993
which resulted in a 25 percent reduction in subscriber lines. This shake-up of billing
regularised a system that had been inefficient and arbitrary – towards a modern/cumpridor
and digital model of efficient revenue collection and service provision.

Figure ED

Outgoing traffic should show strong price elasticity of demand but the statistics are not
sufficient to come to precise figures4. There are indications in the booms and slumps of
Figure EC2, but it is displayed more obviously in the plot of telephone lines and outgoing
calls, Figure ED. This plot of calls and lines also contains economic data indicating low
commodity prices during this period. The price of coffee5 fell to a low point in 1993 and
Figure ED also shows six month moving averages of New York prices for washed arabica
coffee6 between 1989 and 1997, priced in cents per pound. They indicate a form of triple-
Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (1998) The changing international telecommunications
environment: Country case studies, Uganda - revised final report 15 May, 1998 CTO, London p16
The CTO report attempted, and in my opinion failed, to do this. CTO 1998:25
Robusta is nominally traded in London at the Coffee Terminal Market while arabica is traded at the Coffee,
Sugar and Cocoa Exchange, New York. East African output covers both varieties. Dicum G and Luttinger N
(1999) The coffee book: Anatomy of an industry from crop to the last drop New Press, New York pp105-108
Sourced from the Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange, New York
effect where, although connections are tentative, there was a sharp dip in expected prices
at the end of 1992. This price fall coincides with the full Ugandan coffee season, from
September to March, where at least 85% of national export income has been consistently
derived from this single commodity.

A small knock-on effect of the 1993 drop in lines and potentially from slower coffee trade
fed into the incoming traffic statistics but its significance is shown best in this outgoing
traffic where a large number of lines must have been removed from those who were
contributing to the volume of calls from Uganda to international locations. These – tariffs
and lines – seem to be primary determinants of changes in the pattern of outgoing traffic
but volumes have also increased over the long term. Despite the spread of other
communications substitutes such as Callback and email, both incoming and outgoing
telephone calls have increased. Communications substitutes are dealt with in more detail
below along with the accounting rates controversy.

The analysis of calling costs and their effects have been drowned in the rising growth of
global traffic and other externalities. Generally call costs have fallen but there is hidden
data that would indicate some of the complexities. Number of calls statistics would show
the relationship between call tariffs and their effects on the length of calls. Tantalisingly,
ITU data7 only shows the years 1987 to 1991 for outgoing numbers of calls which allows a
calculation of call lengths as: 1987 – 9 minutes; 1988 – 8 minutes; 1989 – 7 minutes; 1990
– 9 minutes and 1991 – 4 minutes. In other words a crucial indicator of tariff sensitivity –
correlation between call rates, number of calls and volume of call in minutes – is beyond
calculation but without this key data there are other avenues to explore. I have chosen aid,
trade and tourism as fairly unambiguous indicators of permeability of ‘ borders’ , mobility of
‘ actors’ 8 and a general spirit of cumpridor openness. The data itself is not unshakeable with
totals of world telephone traffic and world trade being approximations that hide country by
country differences and ‘ informal’ traffic. However the growing openness of the economy
has matched the growing will to communicate.

Tourism9 and aid10 are matched with the maximum number of countries with complete data.
Totals are harmonised with country and year data for calls and this procedure gives twenty
countries in the aid sample and 18 countries in the tourism sample. However these two
measures totally ignore direct developing country influences11 while trade data12 leaves the
detail of East African imports and exports13 to one side because of the lack of
corresponding telephone data. Aside from these limitations, the results, shown in Table EE,
are startling enough to show significant indications of relationships between telephone
traffic and other exchanges and movements. There is little variation from regression lines

All ITU data in this section is taken from the ITU STARS database of telecommunications indicators 1950-
In the Actor Network Theory definition, where pretty well anything can be an actor.
Source: Government of Uganda (1997) Abstract of statistics Bureau of Statistics, Entebbe
Source: Atingi-Ego M et al (1999) Aid and reform in Uganda: Country case study First Draft IBRD/Bank of
But perhaps including some diffused and reflexive undercurrents in ‘security’, ‘willingness to travel’ and ‘donor
Source: IMF (1997) Direction of trade statistics yearbook IMF, Washington
They represent just over a third of official trade by volume
based on incoming traffic. The best matches are for imports and tourist arrivals while
exports and aid display some parallels.

Table EE
Multiple regression analyses of Ugandan telephone traffic 1990-1996
Telephone Traffic Aid Imports Exports Tourist arrivals
R2 R2 R2 R2
Incoming 0.74 0.99 0.89 0.98
Outgoing 0.4 0.02 0.14 0.15

This type of analysis has previously been undertaken by Aharon Kellerman for Israeli
telephone traffic for two years in the 1980s.14 His findings showed similar series of R2
correlation between inbound calls and exports, tourism, imports and the Jewish population
in calling countries. His sampling shows a better width of statistics, and I would have liked
to include Ugandans abroad in the thesis,15 however his time period is short and reflects
two years16 when Israel was not yet emerging from political isolation or its extreme
dependence on the United States. The serial correlation between incoming traffic and other
factors might not in his case represent openness in the sense I am trying to portray here.
Uganda was growing fast economically in the period under question – GDP 17 was rising at
between 5% and 10% per annum – and therefore this boom coincided with a large degree
of gregariousness, more local prosperity, security and little dissent. A queue of investors,
tourist and donors waited to join in this post-holocaust bonhomie. A visual
representation of tourists and telephone calls is shown in Figure EF to give an idea of the
close relationship.

The regressions are addressed between pages 266-269 in Kellerman A (1991) ‘The role of
telecommunications in assisting the peripherally located countries: the case of Israel’ in Brunn SD and Leinbach
TR (1991) Collapsing space and time Harper Collins, London pp252-277
Waves of exiles and emigrants have arrived - particularly in the Kenya, the US, Canada and the UK - from
Uganda following the serial disturbances and dislocations of politics, society and economy. The largest number
have comprised Uganda Asians expelled in 1972 by Amin but other peaks have been in 1966, 1976-78, 1981
and 1985. Unfortunately census data is not dynamic or detailed enough to show change while country by
country data for comparison is vague, unreliable or non-existent.
1985 and 1986
And GDP per capita also but possibly because of the impact of HIV/AIDS on population growth
Figure EF



Regional Correlations
The plots in Figure EG are derived from the same ITU data of minutes incoming and
outgoing to provide a statistical constant. The Uganda figures had to be adjusted 18,
however in the absence of other sources, and in the spirit of consistency, incoming and
outgoing traffic for Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya are lain out in sequential graphs. They
show the two trends of increasing traffic volume and divergence between incoming and
outgoing volumes. From the growth gradient 1986-1997, Uganda shows the slowest growth
in percentage terms over the longer period in both outgoing and incoming categories. This
is surprising as it is the reforming protégé of international institutions, a model of
‘ openness’ and with the fastest GDP growth in Africa. However, from 1993 in the crucial 19
measure of outgoing traffic it outstrips Kenyan growth in terms of percentage points. This is
a little misleading as it translates as 3½ million minutes extra compared to 11 million for
Kenya. Tanzania is the most consistent performer and shows 6 million extra minutes in this
measure alone, this might be because there are less expatriate Tanzanians than Ugandans
and Kenyans.

As the ITU statistics provided the measure ‘numbers of calls’ for 1987-1991 and replacement UPTC data
failed to sequence properly. ITU statistics have been generally adequate although they are released unchecked
and contain some unacceptable inconsistencies.
In terms of local revenue
Figure EG
ITU data for Ugandan, Kenyan and Tanzanian traffic balances
Uganda 1 986-1 998
1 6,00 0,00 0

1 4,00 0,00 0 Incoming

1 2,00 0,00 0

1 0,00 0,00 0

8,00 0,00 0

6,00 0,00 0

4,00 0,00 0

2,00 0,00 0

19 86 198 7 1 988 198 9 1 990 19 91 199 2 1 993 19 94 199 5 1 996 19 97 1 998

I nt ernat ional out going t elephone t raf f ic (m inut es) I nt ernat ional incoming t elephone t raf f ic (minut es)

Kenya 1 9 8 6 -1 9 9 8
80 ,00 0,0 00

70 ,00 0,0 00 Incoming

60 ,00 0,0 00

50 ,00 0,0 00

40 ,00 0,0 00

30 ,00 0,0 00 Outgoing

20 ,00 0,0 00

10 ,00 0,0 00

19 86 1 98 7 198 8 19 89 1 99 0 19 91 19 92 199 3 19 94 1 99 5 19 96 1 997 1 99 8

Internat ional out going telephone traff ic (minutes) I nternat ional incoming telephone traffic (minut es)

Tanzania 1 986-1 998






1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998

International outgoing telephone traffic (minutes) International incoming telephone traffic (minutes)

On balance the East African data is important not so much for correlating trends but for
marking out the territory of comparative analysis. With the advent of electronic mail, private
satellite networks and Internet telephony it is the capabilities of policy making to maximise
revenues while balancing growth and increasing local teledensity. These policies and their
effects are discussed in the following chapter.

Figure EH
Outgoing/Incoming call ratio
Uganda 1986-1996
East Africa 1993-1997



Call costs – Accounting rate, Incoming and outgoing ratios

The ratios of outgoing versus incoming calls in Figure EH show clear patterns in the data
yet cover many complexities. There is a universal trend towards a lower ratio of outgoing to
incoming traffic which has become fixed since 1990. Incoming calls from the Americas
outnumbered those from Uganda by six to one and the figure was two to one for Europe.
The implications are that call revenues and call revenue arrangements are coming under
pressure, and from the external effect of significantly lower and continually reducing
incoming international call costs. There are two angles from which these changes can be
analysed. First is the increasing liberalisation of international telephone rates and
regulation in industrialised countries controversies which have highlighted disparities with
developing country policies towards collection, accounting and settlement rates. Second

are the substitution technologies that producing reductions in call costs on top of the rate

The accounting rate controversy

There are multiple types of arrangements for UPTC to pay for international calls and to
receive payments for these calls and in the vast majority of cases1 they receive payments
for both incoming and outgoing calls. There is a obvious logic for this as an SKA policy with
large incoming traffic producers such as the US and the UK would be at a huge detriment
to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda2.

These arrangements are often not directly between originating and terminating states
however and in this case involve transit fees. As an example, calls between Uganda and
MCI in the United States, are transited through British Telecom. The Commonwealth
Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) details the financial terms of this arrangement
and state that, as of 1996, UPTC and MCI each received 32½ US cents while BT retained
55 cents as a transit fee3. This arrangement covered 18.6% of outgoing and 28% of
incoming international traffic while other examples of transiting arrangements exist for
Canada and South Africa (via Germany) and India and Japan (via Kenya). These are
balanced by the more lucrative 50-50 contracts that exist in most other cases while it was
shown above that East African settlements are governed by the sender-keeps-all (SKA)

The ratios of incoming versus outgoing traffic reflect the effects of communications
substitutes more than the unidirectional analyses. Informal callback, FidoNet electronic mail
over telephone and other one way arrangements then take advantage of incoming call
prices free of Uganda’ s outgoing international call tariffs4. The effect, shown in Figure ED,
has been for a greater growth in the amount of incoming traffic unmatched by outbound
levels. Despite rapid outbound traffic growth, it has been eclipsed by the massive increases
in incoming traffic. This masks effectively outbound calls made over an incoming
connection priced at international rather than local rates. The question that the World Bank,
ITU and CTO are asking is then – Why not embrace this traffic by lowering domestic tariffs
and amending accounting rates so it will be accounted and costed as an outward bound
revenue stream? There are two answers to this question. First there is no data to show
how much hidden traffic there actually is. Second, existing income from the tariffs – 6% of
UPTC’ s operational budget in 19955 – strikes a balance between tax and revenue and
provides a significant proportion of funds for reinvestment in the network. There is nothing
to truly measure either price elasticities of call demand or projected increases and
revenues and therefore no measure of risk.

An exception being the sender-keeps-all arrangements with Kenya and Tanzania
See for instance Mayer R (1998) International accounting rate reform: implications for developing countries in
InterMedia Vol.26 No.3, International Institute for Communications, London
CTO 1998:17
These currently stand at an effective tax of over $1 per minute and justified by telecommunications
development priorities. They are discussed in detail in the following chapter.
Mayer 1998:23
Effects of external technological threats, shortcuts and Internet telephony
The last area of change that has impacted on East Africa has been the development of
tunnelling technologies. The most recent and threatening of these is Internet telephony.
There have been a series of technologies that have followed the strategy of piggy-backing
on existing communications streams. The first of the was fax by email and was one of the
services provided by Fido email providers. An email is addressed with a fax number and
this is delivered to a fax gateway that strips email details and sends it using fax protocols. It
enabled African users to send faxes ‘ as if’ from the United States, UK, or other APC
partner. It was not a seriously debilitating technology for the East African PTTs and they
ignored it.

Today however, local revenues from international telephone calls are falling dramatically.
These have historically contributed a substantial part of East Africa Posts and
Telecommunications parastatals’ surplus1. Increasing global and extra-national competition
and more recently, pressure from the United States Federal regulator (FCC), have forced
the state to look hard at altering tariff structures and reduce international tariffs. The FCC is
calling for a mandatory reduction in the size of the handling fee charged at the developing
country end of the call – the accounting rate. The FCC threatens unilateral action against
countries that will not comply.

The first serious technological threat came from commercial Callback services and the use
of these technologies have been criminalised in all three countries. However development
of these technologies have given more and more connection choices rather than put a cap
on such ventures. Currently three main threats are Callback triggered by email requests,
Internet Telephony and discounted, ‘ preferential‘ interconnection rates. They have
prompted a flood of many discounted callcards and booths in developed countries and are
targeting developing countries. The technologies make use of computer control and routing
together with the capacity for voice signals to be carried by data protocols. These subvert
conventional tariffs and relay arrangements, all made possible by the complexity and
intercompatibility of digital networks.

This points to a major shake-up in international network communications. It is being

experienced strongest in international telephone traffic and much of the burden of
negotiating these issues will be conducted by the International Telecommunications Union
and World Trade Organisation. In these fora developing countries will try and salvage as
much revenue as possible while caught between internal pressures; upgrading to digital
circuits, extending national services and privatisation and external pressures; new
technologies, new market pressures and a totally new regulatory horizon. Clearly they will
need larger, probably foreign, allies with the financial credibility and access to capital they
lack. This can only increase classical dependency – technological, commercial and

Already direct effects of these pressures have been felt. According to Pool, ’ Most national
Post, Telegraph and Telephone Administrations (PTTs) as a matter of policy try to make as
Calls to the US make up 10% of total Ugandan international traffic yet contributes 6% of UPTC’s revenue. For
Kenya this is 5.1% of its revenue and Tanzania 4.7% (Data from ITU African Telecommunications Indicators
and from UPTC, Figures are for 1996)
much profit as they can on the international service which is used by businesses and well-
off individuals; the extra returns are used to keep costs lower for ordinary residential users’ 2
Pressures on international revenues have pushed prices to a level where there has now
been a shift in the revenue base with costs shifted onto domestic tariffs. In Uganda this was
first manifested by an increase in postal charges3 in 1997 and then early in 1999 by an
increase in domestic phone charges and this last change has been replicated in Kenya.
There are now cheaper communications for externally-oriented customers. There is an
overall shift in revenues of PTTs which is reducing future funds for local investment in the
Posts and Telecommunications sector. New investment has to arrive through aid and the
inflow of foreign capital. There is a vicious circle.

The threat from data

Liberalisation has neither totally prompted nor resolved the issue. Technological change is
ongoing and the latest threats are from infrastructures of parallel networks, technologies of
voice over Internet protocol and techniques of compression. The issue is whether this
change will follow the size of markets or the exploit the largest price differential between
conventional and alternative means. The resolution is that both are occurring. The wisdoms
of regulation and the degree of IP connectivity that provides parallel infrastructure will
influence the rapidity of change.

The situation for East Africa is already critical and there are two scenarios. First, it is
extremely easy to purchase an international calling card in a developed country1 that uses
IP telephony to deliver at least part of the call. The ‘ cut’ of sender and relay are bypassed
and the bare accounting rate payable to the host country makes up the largest component
of the call cost. This does not directly affect payments to East African telephone service
providers but provides an incentive for greater numbers of incoming calls substituting
outgoing calls – informal callback. The second scenario is where local dial-up Internet
users download simple software that acts as a virtual phone and subscribe to an Internet
telephony provider. From their desktops they can call the world as if in the US, UK or a
developed country and at those rates or cheaper – calling card rates. There are two
caveats here. First the caller would need access to an internationally recognised credit or
debit card – personally or through a trusting contact. The cards are already being issued by
the HeartBeat Online ( ISP in Dar es Salaam. Secondly there is controversy over
the bandwidth consumption of IP telephony, due to its duplex streaming rather than the
near simplex function of web browsing. McKnight and Leida estimate that, ‘ a moderate use
of computer-to-computer Internet telephony can double the costs of an Internet Service
Provider’ 2 while Delta Three Inc state that, ‘ a two-way voice conversation over the Internet
is actually less heavy than the transfers required for graphics-intensive web sites’ 3. The
impact on developing country connections is as yet unproven.
Pool IS (1990) Technologies without boundaries: on telecommunications in a global age Harvard University
Press, London. quote p84
Posts and telecommunications were joined at that time, I translate this as a pre-privatisation subsidy for
I have been unable to determine the situation in Japan
McKnight LW and Leida B (1997) ‘Internet telephony: costs, pricing and policy’ in Waterman D and MacKie-
Mason J (eds) 1997 Telecommunications policy research conference Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New
Jersey p2
Delta Three are an Internet telephony ISP, Delta Three Inc (1999) The market for Internet telephony
In an under-regulated environment the possibility of the international call market coming
under attack from these threats is clear and would divert revenues directly to developed
countries4 The global market for Internet telephony could reach 15% of international calls
carried over Internet connection by 20015 but bigger impacts will occur if current East
African Internet service providers formally attempt to enter the international calls market.
This would split the most consistently profitable telecommunications sector apart and mark
the new pre-eminence of data.

The flows of technology and progress have been both accepted and resisted within East
Africa. Without control over the deployment and shaping of these changes the future is
determined from outside. Meanwhile, the general ratio of costs to calls should be moving in
favour of wider, faster and more numerous communications. Converging technologies offer
fast ways out of the telecommunications impasse at the cost of devolving responsibility,
control and sadly, accountability, overseas.

Regulation of the telecommunications sector and liberalisation theology

In 1984, two significant decisions were taken towards changing the structure of
telecommunications services and markets in the UK and the USA. In the UK, British
Telecom was privatised by selling 51% of the state's stake on the stock market. This
handed over control to the private sector whilst competitors were licensed to provide both
new and parallel services. In the USA, AT&T was ordered to divest ownership of its 22
local subsidiaries – the local, 'baby', Bell network. This freed the US market from the
constraints of a single company with vertical ownership and control of national and
customer access routes6.

The success of these two actions widened consumer choice and reduced prices through
competition in the UK and the USA. The model of liberalisation saw a combination of
investment strategies that linked up with digital technologies, the ‘ intelligent networks’ .
AT&T realigned itself in the market with the proceeds of the divestiture while British
Telecom was given extra state subsidy to make it more palatable for the market. This
investment capital combined with two extra forces to enable strategies of upgrading and
digitalisation. First was the extra investment capital from running up to new gearing levels
through markets and borrowing. Second were the savings in labour from new technologies
and streamlining that saw multiple waves of redundancies in the reconfigured companies.

Finance and dependence

Finance for telecommunications development in the region has been historically led by aid
and international loans. Here there is a balance between national needs and international
norms. Demand for upgrading, repair and extension of services and infrastructure comes
from inside the country. The international dimension has shifted from a cold war focus on

Let alone the satellite space segment costs of IP connections. These are dealt with in the next chapter.
An estimate from Delta Three’s parent company RSL
Hills J (1990) 'Universal service –Liberalization and privatization of telecommunications ' Telecommunications
Policy Vol. 13 No 2 pp 129-144; Sinden A (1995) 'Telecommunications services: Job loss and spatial
restructuring in Britain (1989-1993)' Area Vole 27 No 1 pp 34-45
aid and stability to liberalisation-era value-for-money demands for competition,
accountability and service. There is also closer scrutiny of the commercial tendering
process although the counter tendency is present in bilateral agreements which have
always emphasised vested trade components. Presently EU projects in Tanzania use EU
equipment and contractors, Danish projects use Danish cables, accessories and plant,
Japanese projects use their own national companies.

Dependency on external funding has had implications for equipment and policy. The
countries are 'takers' of projects and equipment, much of their effort is taken up by co-
ordinating donors and projects. This has caused problems and Jan Mutai, MD of KPTC
commented that, 'Donor driven projects while welcome have in the past saddled the
corporation with a wide diversity of equipment, some of which may not be suitable'1 Another
example comes from Tanzania where the Dar es Salaam Telephone Rehabilitation Project
has been funded with the help of the Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA).
A consultant's report revealed that in Tanzania there were '...indications that the Suppliers
are driving the structure of the network, possibly to the detriment of TTCL. An example of
this is NEC's plan to replace Dar Es Salaam Central [exchange] analogue switches...with 2
switches rather than combine into one switch. The 2 switch solution will almost certainly
cost TTCL an estimated additional 400 to 500 000 US dollars.'2

The state of dependency on international funding is severe and Kenya’ s investment in

telecommunications has averaged $US 65 million over the years 1994-1997 while it had
reached $188 million in 1993 with additional World Bank funding3. Tanzania’ s Telephone
Restructuring Programme 1993-1998, was funded to the tune of $243 million with 32%
from the World Bank, 17% from the African Development Bank, 14% from Sweden, 13%
from the European Union and 12% from Japan, Denmark and Kuwait with the remainder
from Tanzania Posts and Telecommunications Corporation. In 1989 Uganda received
$52.3 million from the World Bank for rehabilitating telecommunications in the north and for
exchange improvements in the south.4 $5.2 million was invested by the International
Finance corporation in the CelTel mobile telephone in 19945 These IFC and World Bank
contributions were seen as a 'transitional step to privatisation'6 by its regional
telecommunications representative.

Privatisation dilemmas
This dependence and new technologies helped to push through differently timed and
differently structured liberalisation then privatisation in the three countries. The task of state
and PTTs has been to take on board these extended telematic services and to reformulate
regulation while rebuilding public telecommunications infrastructure. The two sides of
privatisation were played out between the loss of state control and imminent retrenchment
Jan Mutai in Kweyuh PHM (1996:24) 'Time for change' in Communications Africa June/July 1996
BT Teleconsult Network planning and optimisation project for TTCL
CCAA Tanzania 146 January -February 1996
ITU 1998:75 Part of the price for these disbursements was the introduction of multi-partyism and floating the
Minges M and Kelly T (1994) Multilateral lending for Telecommunications 1983 – 1992 Discussion paper, ITU,
IFC (1995) IFC to help finance Uganda's first private telecommunications network Press release No 95/38
IFC, Washington
Interview, Gaiv Tata, World Bank regional telecommunications representative, Kampala, May 1997
of employees on one hand and improved customer service and network expansion on the
other. ‘ The whims of the exercise are many, but the most nasty one is the eventual loss of
employment to many staff of the privatized firms’ 1 and calculated from ITU statistics, the
reduction in employment is -2.8% per annum for countries with telecommunications
privatisation, compared to - 0.02% for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. 2 At the same time
there are the possibilities of a massive increase in teledensity and a change to a customer-
oriented rather than a state-oriented market which seems to be the case above for Uganda.
Pent-up feelings had been felt in the clamour of complaints from low-level (to high-level)
corruption to failing services and rudeness. According to Kaggwa Terah, ‘ They are creating
such a bad name for themselves that SNO [second national operator] is going to come in
and people will be preferring to wait for its services than to go with UTL.’ 3 He was proved

Tanzania Telecommunications Limited (TTCL) offers an insight into these dilemmas where
the country has still not opted for full privatisation and in 1996, the in-house magazine
represented the struggle between the issues4:

What we hear now and witness today of public enterprises being sold wholly or in part
to new and private hands is not mere tales of Alice in Wonderland. It is real, it is
happening in Tanzania. They call it privatization.... The whims of the exercise are
many, but the most nasty one is the eventual loss of employment to many staff of the
privatized firms. They call it retrenchment.

We in the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) are still wholly

owned by the Government of Tanzania (GOT). But for how long? Are we really
untouchable by the pangs of privatization?

And surely the answer is with us! ..The unfortunate thing is that much of the blame is
on the staff. We seem to be digging our own grave. Areas which are the centre of
complaints include delays in fault clearance, delays in installation of new facilities to
customers, corrupt attitudes by some of the staff, incorrect telephone bills, bad
language by some telephone operators, and generally customer care is poor.

The government's patience is thinning down.. "Perform better or face the axe"... The
Donors' patience on us is also wearing thin, while our customers' patience is reaching
zero level. CHANGE, that is the call we hear from every direction. So what do we do?

Move forward, work together. Flash out the bad elements. They are very few but they
are our enemies. Increase productivity, improve the quality of our services to the
customers. Yes, the customer is King, so let us serve them better... We have to act
now, because we have reached a situation where it is now Do or Die!

All three countries have had western models of restructuring communications corporations
to follow and this is generally the British Model of privatisation. First Posts and
Telecommunications functions are separated, next the market is liberalised to allow new
operators for new services and with a statutory regulatory body. Next a second national

Editorial Connect, January 1996
Calculated from ITU data, ITU 1998
Kaggwa Terah, System Operator SwiftUganda 22 Jan 1988, Internet Society of Uganda, Technical Forum
TTCL (1996) ‘Commentary’ Connect Vol. 2 January – March 1996 p3, ' Part of the Tanzania
Telecommunications Company's overall business promotion activities and an information/education platform for
its employees'.

operator (SNO) is licensed and finally the PTT is privatised.1 Tanzania was the first off the
blocks and introduced The Communications Act of 1993 laying the pathway for division of
the PTT and the establishment of a regulatory body, the Tanzanian Communications
Commission. Unfortunately this legislation preceded changes in Internet technologies but
allowed the commission its first major challenge of negotiating between interest groups and
government in 1995. In 1996 it went into partnership with France Telecom, seeking fresh
capital without the consequences of full privatisation.

Uganda followed the British model exactly and without a whimper. MTN became the
second national operator in 1998, bidding $US 5.6 million for their license. Uganda
Telecommunications Limited was sold in 1999 to WorldTel – an international coalition of
financial investors and western banks2 – and Detecon – a subsidiary of Deutsche Telecom
– for $US 26 million3. This paltry sum is, of course, dwarfed by the investments poured into
the operation over the last 20 years.

Data versus telephones in Kenya

Kenya has resisted all change fully and with great vigour. It has been cast as a villain by
all1 but there is an unerring strategic logic to its gameplan. Incremental reforms have
occurred perhaps two years after the other two countries, KPTC’ s economic strength has
allowed it to weather the deliberate politics of funding and the network has expanded
steadily. Its actions have seemed bizarre and the hallmark of a centralised and paranoid
state – banning first and investigating later, stopping agreements as they half half-run their
course. However in defence of KPTC and the Kenya Government, the urgency of such
measures – the PTT regularly contributes 5% of GDP per annum2 – does not outweigh the
long term national interest.

From 1995 to 1999 the government ‘ banned’ VSAT satellite data connections with the
argument that they might steal international telephone traffic. This is a nub of the data
versus telephone conflict. Barclays bank attempted overt corruption of KPTC officials3 to
allow a ‘ special dispensation’ to operate these technologies. They returned to Kenya happy
and well ‘ fed’ but never followed through on the deal. UNEP finally broke the mould and
after a four year struggle were allowed to use VSAT in their Mercure UNEPNet system
from 1998 with a payment of $US 80,000 per month to cover ‘ lost revenue’ 4 Details of ISP
arrangements are related in the next chapter but the technology is now fully licensable and
Barclays eventually got their connections to the UK. The Kenya Government had acted
with a consistent line and had also extracted the best financial terms yet had alienated
many by its ‘ dance’ .

The same model followed by Ghana who licensed ACG Telesystems as SNO in 1995
Investors are notably Intel, American International Group (AIG) the US insurance giant, National Westminster
Bank of the UK, General Electric Capital and the International Investment Group (IIG). IIG deals in derivatives
with prominent interests in coffee futures.
IFC (1999) IFC helps Uganda finalize telecom privatization Press release 99/69 IFC, Washington
See for instance, Knight 1995 above
ITU 1996
Interview with a senior Barclays official who didn’t phrase it in this way, May 1998
Interview with a senior United Nations official, Nairobi, April 1999
Regulation, rebellion and new Internet constituencies
Similarly, regulation has sought to include Internet and encompassed a new constituency
of players who expect international dimensions of reliability, accountability and fair play.
Kenya published its first Telecommunications Privatisation Bill in 1997 with the
controversial kernel of powers of regulation. Its covert purpose was as bargaining counter
with international agencies and the Nairobi based East African wrote, ‘ Scepticism extends
to how far the government is serious about implementing reform of the National Social
Security Fund, the Kenya Reinsurance Corporation and the Kenya Posts and
Telecommunications Corporation, despite publishing Bills that outline plans to restructure.
The fears were actually deepened by the timing of the Bills' publication - just before the
IMF mission.’ 1

Three main collaborators in the resistance to the telecommunications Bill were the
Telecommunications Foundation for Africa, The East African Internet Association and the
Institute for Economic Affairs. The EAIA’ s meeting saw the bill as ‘ Historically... based on
CAS (country assistance programmes) recommended by the World Bank and IMF and is
drafted to meet their demands as the country is behind schedule to privatise the
sector...There is no independent control, only presidential appointees...A pervasive
obsession with ‘ insecurity’ ...The bill is too broad and without directive principles or
definition of stakeholders...There is no vision of access or development component...The
tribunal has retroactive powers and no legal process...ISPs have to hand over lists of their
customers’ 2

The combined efforts of these three culminated in a successful Institute for Economic
Affairs open-forum on ‘ The telecommunication challenge for Kenya: Review of the
proposed Kenya Telecommunications Bill, 1997’ Nairobi 29th April 1997. MPs were briefed
and the bill was not passed. It was reintroduced in a new form in April 1998 and
republished in June. It provoked the response from the IEA and a focus group of interested
parties and Figure X the reactions. They are based more on the view of the government as
capable and even handed regulator than the technical competence of the national operator.

Date: Tue 05, May – 1998 17: 0:26 +0300
Subject: Draft Telecommunications Bill- Task Force and Critique
Message-Id: <>
X-Ftn-From: Suchindranath Aiyer @ 5:7311/30.189
X-Comment: The EAIA mailing list is supported by the UN Office
at Nairobi

The scope for legally sanctioned mischief and arbitrariness

(i.e. Corruption), has been considerably expanded from the
earlier draft to include opportunities for land-scamming and the
persecution of arbitrarily selected individuals. There is no
effective transparency, accountability, or enforceable equity in

East African April 7th 1997 IMF Mission in Kenya for ESAF Review Meeting
Synopsis of minutes from EAIA meeting 8th April 1997 Synopsis of minutes from EAIA meeting 8th April 1997
the Bill. The Bill will discourage competitive investment,
consumer benefits and increased teledensity.

The specifics are being documented by the team with reference to

repugnant sections, pages and words in the new draft, and will
be published on this list.

Suggestions and volunteers are welcome on how the matter may be

taken further through a) the press, b) public seminars and
debates, and, c) briefing of parliamentarians.

Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998 11:45:07 +0300

Message-Id: <>

X-Comment: The EAIA mailing list is supported by the UN Office

at Nairobi

Many of those who have already looked at the Bill do not think
that it should be passed in its present form. Already there are
concerns that this Bill has failed to address many of the
concerns that were raised by both commercial and non-commercial
stakeholders in the telecommunications sub sector. It is
therefore important that we push to have amendments made to the
sections that are not good before it gets passed.

This coalition of interest groups eventually led to the shelving of the first draft of the Bill. It
was a high water mark of open negotiation of the lines to be drawn between the state as
participant and determinant of the regulation process, and the ability of citizens and minor
players to have an influence. The second draft of the bill retained the character of the first
and was passed in Parliament in 1998. KPTC became Telkom Kenya and retained its
monopoly while the state retained its influence.

The larger connections

Internet and telephones depend on interconnection with international networks. Some of
the concepts of routeing on telephone traffic have been discussed above but this final
section examines the fastness of these routes and landing points, before the fine detail of
Internet service provision and regulation is examined.

Telephone lines
Data from Uganda showed there were a variety of paths for international call routing and
that each intermediary took a proportion of the call charge for this service. Both Adams and
Smith1 have illustrated problems of legacy infrastructure and routes for post-colonial
telephone calls. Smith wrote that:

The major networks of the world, especially those which linked Asia, Africa and Europe,
were largely British...The communications networks - in transport, telephone, telegraph,
broadcasting and the press - grew out of the imperial routes which passed through
London and Paris. An economic network lay behind the system of imperial preferences
of Britain and that in turn was expressed in and was aided by the communication

Adams 1972:97-116; Smith A (1980) The geopolitics of information : how Western culture dominates the world
Oxford University Press, Oxford pp43-45, pp111-146
linkages. Even today the telephone and telegraph links between India and Europe and
Africa and Europe reveal the colonial control systems of the past. It is still sometimes
easier to telephone or to travel from one part of Africa by way of London than direct.2

The best data available, for 1994 and from the Common Market for eastern and southern
Africa (COMESA)in Table EI, shows this has been broadly true in the intervening period.
Data for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda reveals that calls pass through colonial networks of
either Britain, the former rulers of the communicating country but also through the United
States. The latter shows the intrusion of economic imperialism or a ‘ good deal’ , whichever
way you wish to take it.

Table EI
African telephone routes3
To Kenya Tanzania Uganda
Angola Portugal UK Italy
Botswana UK UK USA
Comoros France France France
Djibouti X France France
Eritrea USA UK UK
Lesotho X UK UK
Madagascar Italy France France
Malawi X X Tanzania
Mauritius X Germany France
Mozambique Portugal X Tanzania
Namibia South Africa UK UK
Seychelles X Kenya France
Somalia Italy Kenya Italy
Sudan X UAE UK
Swaziland X MOZ UK
Zaire Spain France France

All of these patterns however reveal the weakness of African infrastructure and the extent
of the failure of Panaftel to serve as a viable channel. The Panaftel links are too patchy,
unreliable and expensive to maintain efficient network operation and only serve Zambia,
Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Rwanda and recently Eritrea.

The UPTC telephone sources also include some routeing data which shows that their
international calls to all other parts of the world 4 and transiting a third party go via the US
(43%), Italy (23%) and the UK (10%). This is then a global issue and applies partially to the
African system with the geography of telecommunication routes used by
telecommunications traffic. The example of India and Uganda illustrates the underlying
choices here:

For Indian traffic, from 1989 through 1992/3, UPTC transited traffic through Nairobi,
had a total accounting rate of 1.66 SDRs5, and paid Kenya 0.42 for this transit fee and
split the remainder 50-50 with the Indian telco. By 1997 rates had dropped about 23%,
to 1.28 SDRs, with Startec [i.e. a route via the US] taking a small 0.18 transit fee and
the balance still split 50-50.6

Smith 1980:44
Source: COMESA
Including Africa
Special Drawing Rights, a currency unit
CTI 1999:23
Uganda had short-circuited Kenya in order to maintain its commitment and business
strategy, to reducing tariffs and hopefully increase traffic levels. It had chosen to route
traffic via the United States and had got a better deal for itself and for customers along the
path of economic least resistance. It shows the way that traffic travels through highly capital
intensive points rather than as a measure of the vector of distance.

The formulations of Adams and Smith could fall by the wayside with routeing decisions for
telecommunications changed rapidly according to market forces. There are two
qualifications to this. First, it relies on the continuing status quo of international satellite
connections carrying East African international telecommunications traffic. This is
threatened by the Africa One cable discussed below. Second, there is evidence from the
former parastatals. According to an official at UPTC, the company has historically routed
telephone calls according to both the company’ s credit limits with the route provider and
according to a technical measure of the best route. They have been cut off in the past and
although diversions are possible, they are more expensive in the long run.7 These
constraints may not apply to privatising PTTs or to second national operators. However the
constraints of foreign currency availability and cash flow are symptomatic of a system
where revenue is in local currency and billing is a more difficult process.

Interview with senior UPTC official, June 4th 1997
The imperial cables were effectively ended by short wave radiotelegraph in East Africa and,
although no dates can be found for their demise, there have been no further cable projects
until the 1990s. The dramatic improvements in capacity and cost benefits from fibre-optic
links have seen fibre laid at the centre, on high volume routes such as the trans-Atlantic
(TAT) connection. They are designed for a twenty-five year lifespan/payback against ten
years for satellites and with capacities ranging from 1.5 million (Southern Cross Cable
Network) to 15 million (FLAG Atlantic 1).1 Cable requires expensive initial investment yet
provides a high capacity/large bandwith. Satellite offers cheaper connectivity that is flexible
yet more costly per unit of capacity. Future trends, as shown in Figure EJ, indicate that
satellites will continue to deliver 64k connections at just under $1000 per year of lifetime.
However cable productivity should see costs falling to much less that one tenth of satellite
cost. Investment choices are difficult to make and predict.

Figure EJ

Trans Pacific Cable

Trans Atlantic Cable

UNECA studies indicate that international telephone calling costs would fall under a cable
system and show different results for coastal and landlocked countries:2 Savings could be
as much as $US200 million over the lifetime of a cable for coastal countries and $50 million
for landlocked countries.
Conny Kullman, Director General and CEO, IntelSat, Written testimony at Hearing Before the Subcommittee
on Communications Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation United States Senate 25 March
UNECA (1999) ‘Toolkit for evaluating cable and satellite projects’, Analysis presented at Global connectivity
for Africa conference, Addis Ababa, June 1998
Coastal country
If all outgoing international traffic carried by the national operator is transferred to cable,
the reduction in international transmission costs would be about 18 cents per minute,
worth $11.5 million in the first year [and taking into account costs of switching media]
the annual expected cost savings may fall to $7-8 million

Landlocked country
(T)he saving in transmission cost from routing international calls via the submarine
cable is about 14 cents per minute. This produces an annual saving of about $1.5 – 2
million for the national operator.

The threat of infolation, in this case an increase in the efficiency of alternative satellite
connections, could however decrease the benefits in the long term. There are three other
angles to these arguments. First is the promise of the Africa One cable, second are costs
and patterns of transiting over intermediaries and last, potentials for ‘ import substituting’

Africa One
The AT&T Africa One cable was first proposed in 1993 and a full report and route was
presented in 1995, at the start of this research, and shown in Figure EK1. By 1997 the
project looked as if it would be shortened and Figure EK2 shows the projected route with
the East African leg ‘ cut-off’ .1 There was disappointment at the potential short-circuiting of
East Africa by both the northern SeeMeWe (shown in Figure FY2 as SMW-3) and Africa
One fibre optic networks. SeeMeWe has been operational in Djibouti since March 1999, but
will not connect inland ‘ for security reasons’ 2 – presumably the prolonged military conflict
between rebel Afars and the French-backed government.

The Africa One connection has teased the continent for the past five years with its promise
of information transfer at 40 gigabits per second. However the least profitable section
would be the link from South Africa onto the Djibouti →India cable, capable of serving East
Africa. AT&T have solicited funds from governments to invest in the link. Jason Githeko,
lecturer at Egerton University, has said that ‘ ATT wants Africa to finance the missing link it
its global fibre cable system then have others benefit from it because very little traffic is
likely to come from Africa. In other words, Africa One is a way for Africa to finance ATT’ 3

This has been proved to be true and the UNECA Global Connectivity for Africa conference
of June 1998 together with the ITU World Telecommunication Development conference of
March 1998 were forums where there was coercion towards the acceptance of the cable
and its investment costs. By June 1999, AT&T4 were confident enough to offer another
press release to confirm the project which was targeted at wallets with the paragraph:

There is a strong resemblance between the geographies of these schemes and the map of imperial cables,
Figure AF, in Chapter Two.
Spokesperson, France Telecom
Response to question put on EAIA mailing list 24/11/97
I use AT&T here but their consistent strategy is to ‘spin-off’ its operations. AT&T submarine cables systems
became Tyco submarine systems in 1997. Africa One is actually, ‘ Africa ONE, Ltd., owned by Columbia
Technologies of New Jersey and organized under the laws of Liberia with agency operations in New York City’
Press release below
“ The telecommunications sector in Africa is developing rapidly, and demand for
broadband connectivity with the countries of Africa is fueling that development,'' Mr.
Fassoulis said today. “ Deregulation, privatization, competition and regulatory reform
throughout Africa are creating a robust telecommunications environment, and demand
for new services, especially the Internet, is growing tremendously. Africa ONE will save
hundreds of millions of dollars in transit fees now being paid by African carriers to
complete calls via Europe.” 5

The potential of the cable will been unravelled as it is installed and 30 African states have
signed the memorandum of understanding, including 9 that are landlocked and also Kenya.

Transiting and Peering

From the evidence above – the close examination of accounting, rates issues of carrier
media and the information routes for telephone system – there is comprehensive proof of
externally influenced change. At this point the discussion is widened to include Internet and
Figure EK1 Figure EK2
Africa One 1996 Africa One 1997

pure data networks. With its routes also governed by cables and satellites, Internet
Protocol is dependent on the national to international link onto the Internet backbone. This
connection is called the ‘ peering point’ and is structurally assigned to a connectivity
provider. Confusingly the arrangement can be undertaken by the Internet Service Provider
alone and this is the case in Uganda, explained in the next chapter. Normally an ISP would
seek to find the cheapest and most reliable link to a point where services will be largely
unimpeded by problems of traffic and time zones.

The time advantage of a United States peering point is an important factor. In Tanzania
there has been little choice and at the beginning of services there was discontent amongst
some Internet Service Providers using the France Telecom/TTCL Datel system where the
first 64k links joined the Internet in Paris. A surfer in Dar es Salaam would find it virtually
impossible to access the majority of American Internet websites after 8 am New York time
and before 6pm Los Angeles (and Silicon Valley!) time. This means that between 1pm and
1 am a Tanzanian could be fighting for access with more than 50 million users in the United

Global Crossing (1999) Africa ONE to Build Fiber Optic Ring Around Africa Press Release, 4th June 1999,
Global Crossing Ltd, New York
States. He1 will be trying to connect over a satellite and through European business and
student traffic while they will be connecting locally and by cables. In 1997 Hussein
Dharsee, the managing director of Heartbeat Online, commented that, ‘ The thing that
would make my life most easy is a connection to the US. We are in a ridiculously
competitive situation and users are usually downloading and demand speed. We are
paying for a larger Internet connection yet the transfers are slowed because of our landing
point.’ 2 The start of faster services via TaideNet in Norway and pressure from service
providers such as Heartbeat/ has lessened these problems.

Where there has been choice and after investigating all other options, ISPs have chosen
the United States. The possibility of connecting via South Africa was too expensive and a
risk according to Jean-Paul Minet of InfoMail and Bill Sangiwa of CyberTwiga. Minet
emphasised that a satellite connection implied flexible connections but five year contracts
were both economical and the norm for Internet access points and leasing space
segments3. Suchin Aiyer of the network consultants DacNet, saw both South Africa and
India as options but said, ‘ Despite Kenya and East Africa’ s natural political and historic
connections with those countries all of us are more oriented to the West .... A line to the US
gives people what they want, the status and time advantages of a connection to the heart
of the Internet. Why should they accept less?’ 4

Figure EL shows evidence from the ‘ traceroutes’ 5 of live ISPs in 1999. Uncertainty over the
location of nodes along the route has been reduced by DNS LOC records (RFC 1876)
which often give their longitude and latitude and this recent innovation and will be fully
incorporated for Internet2. The information shows that the vast majority of peering points
are now in the United States, routes are increasingly diverse and all are satellite
connections. Developments between 1997 and 1999 have been threefold. First there are
the new nodes of Lithuania and Pakistan, indicating the spread of connection points
outside of the hard centre of industrialised countries. Second, there are longer strings of
connection situated in North America indicating the shift to US peering points and also a
stronger Canadian participation in links. Third, there are hidden factors of direction and
capacity of links.

Figure EL:
Traceroutes to East African connection from London
ISP Route from London Hops
Kenya London→Kenya 8 New York→California→Pakistan→Tanzania 15 New York→Kenya 8 New York→Philadelphia→Boston→Kenya→Boston 18 New Jersey→Philadelphia→Chicago→Seattle→Oregon→Virginia 20 New York→Montreal→Kenya 12 New York→Montreal→Kenya 12
This gendered usage reflects the profile of most individual users I have had experience of. Equality between
the sexes in terms of access is more likely to be seen in workplace, academic or community connections
Interview Hussein Dharsee, Dar es Salaam, September 1997
Interview Jean-Paul Minet, Kampala, May 1997
Interview, Suchin Aiyer, Nairobi, 29th August 1997
An application originally available from the Unix command line and now more widely in commercial packages
that follows the notional path of a data packet recording time and ‘hops’ from relay to relay.
175 New York→Montreal→Kenya 12 California→New York→Montreal→Kenya 9 Norway→Kenya 10
Tanzania London→Tanzania 8 New York→California→Pakistan→Tanzania 15 New York→California→Pakistan→Tanzania 15
Internet Africa New York→Montreal→Norway→Lithuania→Tanzania 12 New York→Montreal→Norway→Lithuania→Tanzania 12 New York→Montreal→Norway→Lithuania→Tanzania 12 New York→Montreal→Norway→Lithuania→Tanzania 12 Boston→Utah→Tanzania 14 New York→Massachusetts→Tanzania 16 New York→Massachusetts→Tanzania 16 New York→Massachusetts→Tanzania 16
Uganda New York→Massachusetts→Kenya 14 New Jersey→California→Virginia→Colorado→Uganda 17 New York→Montreal→Norway→Lithuania→Uganda 12 New York→Montreal→Norway→Lithuania→Uganda 12 San Francisco→Oregon 14 Atlanta→Virginia→Paris→Mauritius→Uganda 11 WEB PRESENCE ONLY

Direction and capacity

Further evidence of traffic direction is shown in Chapter Seven but from telephone and
FidoNet email data so far there has been a strong trend of imbalances in traffic direction.
Indisputably there is more incoming traffic than outgoing traffic, this incoming traffic is
sourced from the United States and Europe. Although there has been no chance of data
collection in this area the physical connections tell the story best. Kenya has a confused
policy on VSATs which have not banned incoming VSAT traffic outright although outgoing
traffic remains very much contested and because of presumed effects on telephone call
revenues. With this grey area of the law two ISPs have set up incoming VSAT connections
to complement their outgoing JamboNet lines and they are set to be copied by others.
AfricaOnline now has a 256k outgoing connection and a 512k incoming connection,
InterConnect has 64k outgoing and 256k incoming lines. In Uganda, the acquisition of
StarCom’ s Internet services by InfoMail has meant that the 256k and 128k links can be spilt
between email, HTTP, incoming and outgoing. Wilken AfSat’ s operations regional
operations are also mediated by a 128k outgoing and 1Mb incoming connection.

Ratios of 2:1 and 4:1 have been fixed by hardware to represent Internet terms of trade
which favour incoming traffic. African subscribers are paying for these connections and are
in the position of receiving more than sending countries. Further, peering point charges to
the United States are incorporated in these subscription fees – a direct transfer of money to
developed countries from developing countries for Internet service. In addition, email and
http connections to other East African countries are passing over these distant connections
and incurring satellite space segment costs, again paid to developed countries. East
African Internet and telephone connections are symptomatic of satellite-peripheries – a

disguised technical dependence charged by the distortion of space and a propensity to
import data. Internet consultant, Mike Jensen describes some of these patterns thus:

Subject: Re: ground still to cover
To: "African Development Forum 1999 Discussion"
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 1999 14:39:38 +0200 (SAST)
(R)egional integration is also being inhibited by the lack of
infrastructure between neighbouring countries and the high costs
charged for the telecom links where they do exist. Aside from
discouraging voice calls, this stops Internet Service Providers
(ISPs) from establishing direct connections to neighbouring
countries, or sharing the costs of intercontinental links. As a
result they are forced to consolidate all of their traffic over
high cost cross continental links to US or Europe.
This means that large and rapidly increasing capital outflows from
the region are occurring for traffic between African countries
paid to US or European telecom and Internet service providers
(probably over US$1 billion/year now).

Hubbing and Import Substitution

What has been missing has been a better means of ‘ import substituting’
telecommunications traffic by network improvements and hubbing. There are three
dependencies – fixed infrastructures of more bandwidth in/bandwidth out, the tendency to
import data traffic and the devolution of peering and routing functions to developed
countries – however there are possible escapes from the last two. They are local hubbing
and local networks. Local hubbing involves the installation of a ‘ roundabout’ between data
transmission sources which allows locally sourced messages to be routed to avoid distant
international intermediaries. Local networks embrace a hub but there are three slightly
different topologies. First there are networks that share the same ICP network such as
JamboNet in Kenya which can allow local transfers. Second, there is a proposed East
African fibre-optic backbone and third, there is Africa One.

The East Africa fibre-optic backbone has its routes in the former East African Posts and
Telegraphs Corporation and the East African Community. The prospect of the re-
establishment of the Union has brought the question of a shared infrastructure back on the
agenda. The first proposal has been to update the links that are still mediated by long
distance rate telephone calls and the basis of this is a regional network. The project went to
tender in mid-1999 and it includes 2,500km of connections with fibre for Nairobi→Kampala
→Mbarara and Nairobi→Arusha. The remainder will be covered by mainly wireless, digital
microwave links. Costs are set at $US57 million and funding is 61.5% risk capital from the
European Investment Bank, 25% PTTs and 13.5% from the East African Development
Bank.1 With proper configuration it will eventually be able to intelligently route regional data
and voice traffic, pool risks and negotiate international rates collectively. This will depend
on a political will to act jointly and some form of commercial co-operation that may be more
difficult to achieve.

Africa One has been described above and is another means of keeping traffic within Africa.
The example of Panaftel and its display of the failure of full continental co-operation in the
Mukalazi S (1999) ‘Plans for setting up East African fibre optic link ready’ East African 24th June 1999
1970s and 80s should be borne in mind with this project. If completed, it will offer a
continental network with local hubs and centres of data capital which will address the clear
disparities of control and structure. However data disparity seems set to continue. The
issues of use and preference that guide these choices together with regulation and local
patterning will be detailed and analysed in the next chapter. The complexities of growing
satellite-peripheries will be laid out in a fuller story of Internet in East Africa.

Chapter Seven
Internet Regulated, Internet Populated

The new and exciting possibilities of Internet were introduced in East Africa at the end of
1995 when the first public connection was opened up by InfoMail of Uganda. It installed its
own VSAT connection which meant the presence of a two metre white dish in the back
yard of an unimposing former residence in the colonial style. It connected to a peering point
in Colorado and the venture was an alliance between a French telecommunication
consultant and a Ugandan radio station owner 2 Users could dial-up to these headquarters –
well situated between the government, diplomatic and expatriate districts of Kampala – and
for $75 per month were provided with unlimited emails and 15 hours of world wide web
connection. By 1999 there were 22 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the region and the
medium had grown to offer services including electronic commerce, virtual conferencing
and two-way interactive services, streaming multimedia and as well as a portfolio of
messaging services. The number of Internet users in East Africa has never been starting
and stands at one-half-of-ten-percent-of-one-percent of the population

This chapter analyses the integration of seamless Internet connection – fixed, live links –
into policy, society and space. Following on from Chapter Six it gives context to the
comparative situations of regulation, technology, ideology and practice. East Africa is
showing signs of the first datacommunicated development following eight years of gradual
penetration. Traditional measures such as literacy, infant mortality and life expectancy
cannot show the creeping effect of information flows and so figures of penetration and
market trends form the starting point for the assessment. These are interlaced with policy
break-points that occurred in each country and the ways in which infrastructure determine,
and are influenced by, external and internal forces of change.

In the course of research and fieldwork data had to be teased from major players who face
fierce competition and value the utility of their own market information. Consequently the
only figures for Internet outside this research are semi-official and are occasionally
estimates with wide variations and these are flagged as such. The minuscule numbers of
Internet users and subscribers is an indication that this type of connectivity will not be
accessible to the wider public in the foreseeable future. The chapter seeks to identify which
segments of society and the economy are involved, what influences there are on the
pattern of change and the meta-ideology that places this means of communication near the
centre of a development strategy.

Patrick Quarcoo of Capital FM, one of the two initial commercial FMs in Kampala
Media in general
In comparison with other forms of media it is the broadcast media that has the largest
number of ‘ receivers’ . One way communications have been widely taken up as is shown
Figure FA

Figure FA
East African media uptake1
Country data Radio % TV % VCR % Telephone %
Kenya 74 11 2 <1
Tanzania 76 4 2 <1
Partial data
Uganda (South) 75 17 3 <1
Urban/Rural data
Kenya (Nairobi) 88 47 11
Kenya (Urban) 4
Kenya (Rural) 72 7 1 0.16
Tanzania (Dar) 90 27 10
Tanzania (Rural) 74 2 1

The largest growing sector in terms of recent expansion in sheer audience/user numbers
has been radio. This medium is being transformed by the ‘ FMs’ and most obviously in
Uganda and Tanzania.2 The same technology that allows ‘ pirate’ and community stations to
set up so cheaply and rapidly in metropolitan areas of developed countries has been
deployed in a more generally relaxed information climate. The Communications Initiative
reports that number of radios in Uganda has increased by 266%3, the number of FM
stations from none in 1993 to at least 12 in 1999 while Tanzania now has 5 FM radio

The societal implications of this medium in terms of direct market and user experience
would appear to be greater than Internet. However convergence is playing a part in blurring
distinctions. First, Uganda’ s Capital FM is distributed nationally to transmitters over the
same VSAT technologies that allowed its owner to set up InfoMail. BBC World Service and
Radio France are also transmitted locally while carried to Uganda over VSAT and this
represents decentralisation through data networks at the probable expense of short-wave
broadcasting. Lastly, although the view is tentative, streaming audio narrowcasts – netradio
or Webradio – allow the export of live local radio worldwide over IP. Perhaps this is another
example of bandwidth in/bandwidth out5 where broadcasts arrive and narrowcasts leave.

The figures for telephone penetration, or teledensity, show less that one per cent of the
population has a telephone. This compares very poorly with television and even ambitious
regional line expansion strategies only aims to see a national figures attaining a maximum
2% coverage6. Computer and Internet coverage is a fraction of these figures and a ‘ best
Mytton G (1996) From Saucepan to Dish: Radio and TV in Africa Paper presented at ASAUK Conference,
Bristol, September 1996 figures are for 1995. Telephone figures are from ITU 1998
Although the Daily Nation newspaper’s FM will be live in Nairobi from the end of 1999
It is usually a reliable source but I would add that there have been three ‘up-country’ FMs launched which
would directly increase ownership and the rest could be ascribed to upgrading from AM/MW radios
These last two figures were derived during the research
Nemo Semret 1997, see Chapter Eight, Afronets posting 3rd April
This figure based on the Kenya programmes, 1997-2001
estimate’ of subscribers in East Africa is 20-25,000. Internet and Email use have spread
from enthusiasts and the non-government sector to business and government.

IP implemented IP regulated
Internet and email is the only telecommunications sector in the region where the issues of
reform, regulation and liberalisation have been worked through from beginning to end.
Technologies have interacted with the state, market and donor communities for nearly ten
years and the investigation of this sector reveals the details of change and compromise in
these relationships. First it shows the reception of new technologies and the introduction of
market forces. Second, it shows the repositioning of the state to player/manager. Third, it
leads towards an understanding of some of the more intractable issues of liberalisation and
technology such as private networks, accounting rates and customer service.

Changes from FidoNet to Internet marked new patterns and scales of investment in
technology, heightened commercial risk and high levels of competition for customers.
Following Mike Jensen's model of regulating ‘ on the hoof’ , governments had to fully take on
board Internet and they have effectively structured the market. Although prepared by the
development of emailing systems, there were complex technical and social dimensions to
assimilate within a range of options delineated by balances between control, accessibility,
financial return and efficiency of Internet services. The three countries developed different
strategies of implementation and regulation.

Uganda was first country to regulate Internet Service Provision, offering unconditional
VSAT licences and devolving responsibility for infrastructure to the companies installing the
equipment. In 1996, Tanzania's effort was aided by Commonwealth Telecommunications
Organisation funding to prepare a strategy of technical assistance in the preparation of a
business plan and sector strategy. Similarly to the main telecommunications sector, TTCL
took on France Telecom as an Internet connectivity partner. It has limited Internet
Connectivity Providers (ICPs) to three while there is a free-for-all for licensed ISPs. Kenya
engaged Canadian datacommunications giant Newbridge Networks for consultation, also in
1996, to help in the planning and execution of services. By the end of the year it offered a
leased line solution, KenStream, with the state acting as the connectivity provider.

The terms used here coincide with three spatial levels of connection. Internet Service
Providers are the national resellers of bandwidth, usually over dial-up connections and for
individual accounts. Internet Connectivity Providers (ICPs) are the link between the ISPs
and an international connection to the fibre-optic Internet backbone providing the
bandwidth out of the country to Europe and the US. Finally, Peering Points are where the
connections actually land on the backbone and require the means of landing – a satellite
dish that can mediate the connection – and a good route onto the Internet. If there is an
ICT in this ‘ food chain’ then it represents greater costs to the ISP and their clients.

The region has shown four trends in the ISP market. First was the founding stage when
start-ups proliferated and this had ended by 1998. Second was regional expansion which
has not extended beyond two countries at once but has seen AfricaOnline, Wilken,
SwiftGlobal and HeartBeat Online and Safari-Surf operating outside their initial borders.
This is ongoing and with local battles in Mombasa and Kilimanjaro region, Tanzania. Third
have been mergers and acquisitions which have led to the demise of Tanzania Online
(1997, Africa Online), ELCI (1997, InterConnect), StarCom (1998, merger with InfoMail into
InfoCom) and TanzaNet (1999, unknown). Last has been a drive to work with external
investment partners or owners, a current trend. There are two notable examples:
AfricaOnline (Prodigy of the USA 1997, African Lakes Corporation of the UK, 1999) and
SwiftGlobal (SGUS Xpedite, 1996 and Premiere Group, 1997).

Figure FB: Geopolitics of companies and peering points

ISP Email IP Leased- Country Peering Background HQ
StarCom    Uganda USA Telecoms US,
InfoMail    Uganda USA Media, Uganda
Uganda Online   Uganda USA Academic Uganda
SwiftGlobal    Uganda USA Telecoms US
AfricaOnline    Uganda USA Telecoms UK
BushNet   Uganda USA Radio, UN Uganda
CyberTwiga   Tanzania UK Medical/Aid Tanzania
Heartbeat/Raha    Tanzania US Hardware Tanzania
Internet Africa   Tanzania US Systems, Tanzania
Cats-Net   Tanzania US Hardware Tanzania
Marie/Habari   Tanzania US Voluntary Tanzania
Emslies Online   Tanzania UK Telecoms UK
TanzaNet   Tanzania France Telecoms Tanzania
ZanziNet   Tanzania France Telecoms Tanzania
Zaccoserv  Tanzania Canada Telecoms Tanzania
ICS   Tanzania US
AfricaOnline   Tanzania France/US Telecoms Tanzania
UDSM   Tanzania US Academic Tanzania
Safari-surf   Kenya UK Telecoms UK/Kenya
FormNet    Kenya US Telecoms Kenya
InterConnect   Kenya US Textiles Kenya
ARCC    Kenya UK Research Kenya
NairobiNet   Kenya US Telecoms Kenya
Net2000   Kenya US Telecoms Kenya
AfricaOnline Kenya US Telecoms US
SwiftGlobal    Kenya US Telecoms US
Thorntree  Kenya US Hardware Kenya
Figure FB shows the sweep of ISPs in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda that offer non-
proprietary service. Most show a background of telecommunications, indicating that they
have no discernible history outside of Internet and a minority are African owned, there are
also only two email-only providers displayed on the table. The country by country situations
of regulation and the nature of the market are closely inter-related.

InfoMail’ s service was quickly followed by StarCom, a subsidiary of Nortel7, who also
installed a VSAT, this time connecting to Norway. The Uganda Government issued

Nortel Networks, formerly Northern Telegraphs and an acquisitive Canadian multinational
licences for the connections and, by default, for them to operate as both Internet
Connectivity Providers and Internet Service Providers. InfoMail and StarCom could provide
Internet services and control a connection to the Internet backbone rather than rent space
or equipment from a 'middleman'. This has led to high technical and cost barrier to
competitors entering the market. They would have to install equipment, negotiate a remote
connection and pay for a minimum satellite space segment and try to find new customers,
or poach existing ones, to cover these costs. BushNet, SwiftUganda and UgandaOnline
initially sublet space on connections which they used for email and users' external Internet
demands while hosting their web pages at remote locations.

In 1998, InfoMail and StarCom’ s Internet businesses merged, reducing the competition and
consolidating the user base into a single operation – InfoCom. Strong competitors are
SwiftUganda8 and a new ISP, AfSat, which is a subsidiary of Wilken which holds ICP and
ISP licenses in Tanzania.9 The continental giant outside of South Africa, AfricaOnline, has
had a local web presence for around a year but has yet to make any market moves. This
small number of ISPs and a market oligopoly has been a result of the non-policy of the
Uganda government. Users have comparatively cheap connections, at $US35 per month
for the cheapest solution, because of the lack of an ICT to take a cut and this helped the
Kampala market to grow quickly from the start. Spatial problems exist however because of
a lack of state investment in Points of Presence (PoPs)10 and the market has not provided a

Tanzania formulated a deliberate Internet policy and in 1995 three licences were awarded
to SITA, Wilken and Datel as ICPs at a cost of US$100 000 for five years plus 5% of
annual turnover. CyberTwiga were the first commercial ISP to operate full web and mail,
commencing in early 1996, with a SITA connection to a London peering point through
former Fido collaborators WolfNet. At first, it was only SITA who offered ICP services and
with a low capacity (9.6k), poor transfer (X.25) and a high cost ($2500 Per month). SITA
has since upgraded its connection to T3 standard yet Twiga left for a Wilken connection in
1998 and SITA concentrate on their international I-Pass email system.11 The University of
Dar es Salaam remains the only fully connected university in East Africa. It operates a
closed user group and is outside of the market. Generously endowed by donors, it has
excellent hardware and a new 64k link but there was a two year gap between their arrivals.
Consequently the shaping of services and configuration have been confused although all
links are currently operational.

The Tanzanian market is quite brutal and its separation by regulation has led to two
consequences. First the state can collect revenue at both ICPs and ISP levels. Second,
they have reduced the investment in technology and expertise for ISPs making it easier to
set up services under the guidance of the higher level ICPs.

Part of SwiftGlobal which is a large Internet player in Nairobi
And is based in Kenya!
Regional nodes that allow local telephone dial-up points onto the data network.
Described in more detail in the next chapter
Wilken started very slowly, constructing an earth station to connect directly with Boston,
USA via AfSat. It is now providing the VSAT links for the Bank of Tanzania, connects
clients, uniquely then notably Coopers and Lydbrand, using Lotus and cc:mail. It has also
started wireless connection services by hourly rates. In December 1996, Datel1 – a joint
venture between France Telecom and TTCL – began off-the-shelf 64k VSAT Internet
connections at $US17,500 per month and with a Paris peering point. The response was
dramatic and within six months, four new ISPs set up services. Then at the end of 1997,
three more ISPs bought into the Datel service. Out of the eight operating in 1999, all but
one use the more powerful and expensive 128k, 256k and most recently 512k connections
through a Norwegian peering point.

ISPs have reasserted the primacy of commercial decision frameworks and have generally
resisted purely technical solutions. The costs of equipment, depreciation, satellite space
segment, backbone connection and maintenance are drawn together to represent 'rent' or
fixed overheads. Once the number of users reaches a certain threshold then profitability is
reached. To pay for a 64k Tanzanian connection in 1997 alone required 360 users 1 or
around 500 users with other overheads taken into account. A service with just 550 users
would be contributing just $US36,000 per year to operating surplus. There are high
win/lose stakes and, from what we have seen in the analysis of infolation and
standardisation, the ISP sector bets on proven, reliable and imported technologies and has
little cash to spare on research and development. Hope for the sector stems from the
pressures to diversify spatially in selling new connections, retaining users with lower
charges and wider services, plus the selling of associated services such as web-page
publishing. Further technological advances such as a wireless link, in the form of a
metropolitan area network2, allow the short-circuiting of telephone and cable systems.

Two short characterisations of ISPs show the difference between being first into a market
and arriving after the start but with big commercial ambitions. Cyber Twiga and HeartBeat
Online Tanzania3 both operate in Dar es Salaam and they compete with six other major

CyberTwiga is an hard working and worthy ISP whose founders were associated with
USAID and HealthNet Tanzania. It fought with the PTT for connections to SITA, its ICP, for
six months while resisting demands for irregular payments.1 As Tanzania’ s first ISP, it had
a market advantage which was balanced by its initial tiny bandwidth. With just four staff in
1997 who were extremely stretched, it provided a personal service to their users around

‘ Datel's shareholders are: Nexus International, a subsidiary of France Cables et Radio (36%), the state-owned
Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (35%), International Finance Corporation(World Bank)
(14.5%), and PROPARCO, the French development financial institution for the private sector, a subsidiary of
Caisse Francaise de Developpement Group (14.5%)’ IFC (1997) IFC to invest in US$10 million Tanzanian data
communications project Press Release 97/123 IFC, Washington
$18000 per month divided by an average charge of $50 per month per user
Operated by Adesemi and Airspan
3 and I will call it Raha from here
$US 4000
the country. In the same year they opened the first PoP in Arusha and maintain a medium-
to-small user base across the country.

The example of Raha gives a good insight into the far-end of how an aggressive and fast
moving ISP plots an East African strategy. The company has been run by Tanzanian
nationals with strong financial and family ties to the US. It uses an expensive Microsoft
operating systems on the latest server hardware rather than the free Linux systems that
many other ISPs use in conjunction with marginal machines. In terms of innovation, it has
not been afraid to invest in wireless networks and is keen to bypass PTTs and retain
control and reliability of leased lines it can resell. Its relations with TTCL are good and
maintenance on incoming phone lines is helped by a ‘ special’ relationship where everyone
can ‘ eat’ and it is not afraid of these ways of operating.

Raha’ s Internet services are aimed at providing the three things that it sees are essential
user requirements. First is bandwidth to deliver images, voice and audio as swiftly as
possible. Second is access to services requiring an international credit card and it operates
a proprietary ‘ gold card’ . Third it offers local ‘ chat’ and interaction. These all add up to local
value added for international web browsing and are a formula it also uses at Ikenya, its
Mombasa operation1 and SukumaNet, its subsidiary in Mwanza, North West Tanzania. It
provides the ‘ latest’ , the ‘ fastest’ and the modern and western model of an expansive ISP in
the region while using personal connections as leverage with outside services and

The configuration of ICPs and ISPs in Tanzania has brought high initial revenues to the
state, as entrepreneur and regulator, at the expense of rash venture capitalists. The
government collects both at the level of licences for ICPs and ISPs and through its Datel
services. The growth of competition may affect the profitability of Datel but so far it has
been a beneficiary of the demand for turnkey services and speedier connections to out-
compete other Datel customers. The configuration of satellite technology has also meant
that an ISP or company can establish a full data service anywhere in the country and
limited only by the availability of power. Points of Presence are then usually satellite-based
islands of connectivity, although the digital telephone network nears completion. So far
Arusha, Mwanza, Moshi and Zanzibar are served by full local Internet connections and the
limitations are financial more than technological.

In early 1996, the African Research and Communications Centre (ARCC) was funded by
the British Overseas Development Agency to the value of a 19.2k leased line to the UK for
Internet services. The establishment of this first Internet service by this quasi-commercial
organisation prompted a response from the regulators and state and by the end of the year
a full but incomplete Internet policy and infrastructure was in place. In Kenya, as in
Tanzania, the role of connection provider and service provider have been clearly
separated. Consultation and services from the Canadian datacommunications giant
Newbridge Networks allow KPTC to take advantage of its under-utilised digital connections.
Where it operates a marginally legal incoming VSAT connection
The corporation acts as ICP and provides the route to Internet backbone over KenStream1
leased lines and then via conventional telecommunications satellite to a remote peering
point. Figure FC shows an breakdown of KenStream lines in 1997 by organisation and
peering point, Figure FD shows the network itself.

Figure FC
Leased-lines for datacommunications in Kenya, 1997
Number Landing or Peering Point Number Type of Network
6 London 10 ISP/Computer Company
3 New York 2 UN
2 Paris 2 Kenya Government
2 California 1 UK government
1 Boston 1 NewsMedia
1 Dublin 1 Travel and Bookings
1 Atlanta 1 Global Company

KPTC provided this high capacity service without the costs or waste of significant extra
infrastructure. KenStream’ s largest difficulty came when the Nairobi bomb of 1997 inspired
KPTC to cut all international connections for three days however his has been recently
upgraded to a special Internet connection JamboNet. From KenStream’ s cost of $US
14,755 per month1 connectivity costs have fallen to just over $US 5,000 for the same
bandwidth however the growth in traffic levels somewhat mitigates these changes.
JamboNet has had reliability problems itself and in September 1999 was out of operation
for three days. With just a single monopoly KPTC/Telkom Kenya route out of Kenya, the
entire national Internet was shut down.2

The effect of this infrastructure policy was to provide a connection kit for ISPs in the
manner of Tanzania with the freedom to land the connection in the US and to the heart of
the Internet using the state's well maintained and generally reliable telecommunications
connections and satellite groundstation. Kenya experienced a boom in Internet Services
that saw national capacity expand sixteenfold with five new ISPs connected in 1997.
Competition was intense and prompted the opening of a further five Points of Presence in
three locations – Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru, all connected by the KenStream service.
JamboNet replicates these three connections while KenStream is now available in most
points of the coast, highlands and lake corridor.

KenStream is the KPTC service offering frame relay data connections over leased lines and replaced the x.25
packet switched network, KenPac at the beginning of 1996
Source: Mike Jensen’s Africa Connectivity statistics at
Except for Raha’s Kenyan ISP, Ikenya, in Mombasa
The genesis of policy has been slower, less consistent and more draconian that in either
Uganda or Tanzania but similarly has mirrored the unsteady processes of liberalisation. For
instance, after allowing the growth of three self-made local service providers: ELCI, ARCC
and ThornTree, it threatened their continued operations by 'introducing' a flat rate, five year
Internet services licence of close to US$50 000. For larger players this was a reasonable
figure although it would impact severely on the old NGO services. They had helped create
the latent demand for Internet services which was certainly underpinned by the success of
email-only services such as Fido. The licences have turned out to be more of a coercive
measure on the whole Internet and email sector. ThornTree has managed to negotiate an
exemption from a full licence as it remains an email-only, limited service provider but this
was the last straw for ELCI who sold up.

East Africa comparisons

Figure FD
KenStream network

Figure FE gives a representation of the Internet market with figures compiled from tips,
estimates from research and the Africa Connectivity site1. It shows the promising side of
technological cost reductions but also that the rise in subscribers is not enough to ensure a
full market of a reasonable spread of connectivity.

Figure FE
East African IP Market and customers
Country Kenya Tanzania Uganda
1997 1999 1997 1999 1997 1999
Number of ISPs 10 8 10 9 4 5
National serviced 659.2 4100 768 1024 320 544
capacity (Kbps)
Cost of 64K $14,755 $5,200 $17,500 Negotiated
Best user cost per $60 $50 $55 $40 $50 $35
No. of subscribers 6000 15000 3000 4000 3000 4000

There have not been enough customers to provide either costs or payback for all of these
ISPs. The market for conventional access is oversupplied while demand is constrained by
the costs of connection, costs of equipment and distance. The commercial pressures are
therefore to expand infrastructure to provide service to the widest number of users
possible, to poach from the userbases of other companies or to pursue takeovers and
acquisitions. One ISP has reported that Internet Service itself ‘ would not be making money
in four months’ 1 and that money would have to come from associated services. This
indicates the fragility of the situation however the ISP is still operational.

The outcomes of the three national regulatory regimes have been divergence in the shape
and orientation of infrastructure. First, Uganda has no Internet Points of Presence outside
Kampala to extend dial-up connectivity by offering cheaper and more reliable local access.
In Kenya and Tanzania, the effects of competition driving companies to seek more
customers and the planned capabilities of the datacommunications infrastructure have
allowed a spread of connectivity into urban areas outside the capital. Second, a network of
communication centres, offering cheap national and international telephone, fax and email
services have been installed by the ambitious StarCom telecommunications company.
They are funded by a commercial loan1 from the soon-to-be-privatised Commonwealth
Development Corporation and use VSAT technology to offer these services in up to 15
towns throughout the country. They are in competition with UTL/UPTC whose services are
more expensive and less extensive and the network operates as parallel rather than
extending infrastructure. This competitive initiative would not be allowed by Kenyan or
Tanzanian regulatory regimes. KPTC has begun to franchise payphone agencies operating
for commission over exclusive geographical areas2 while the Tanzania tender for a second
payphone operator was won by ACG3

The processes of installation and the development of these Internet infrastructures are
unfinished while regulation is fixed. None of the processes extends the ‘ frontiers of
modernisation’ geographically beyond where they have already been plotted but they
thicken and quicken communications capacity. The potential of digital technologies to
spread telecommunications further into rural areas have not yet been thoroughly assessed.
Zantel, of Zanzibar has installed (cheap, obsolete) radio telephones that can provide voice
only calls. These have not been accepted as equal technologies as they are of low quality,
yet the historical standard infrastructure of copper wire have not provided anything like
universal service. The new model uses a diversity of techniques to aim to achieve this end
yet this in turn requires interconnection and therefore more interfaces, more protocols and
more imported technology.

The two gravities within diverse communication solutions are the development of wireless
telecommunications and the introduction of shared public facilities. Wireless should be
something more than the Zantel solution but the spread of options extends from mobile
Interview, Carlos Chavez, Nairobi, April 1999
With more favourable international rates and payback
Kweyuh PHM (1996:23) Time for a change, an Interview with Jan Mutai, MD KPTC Communications Africa
June/July 1996
The Africa Communications Group operating from Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Second National
Operator in Ghana
telephones to email delivered over shortwave (HF) radio. Telecentres represent the public-
access solution and there have been a series of pilot projects mooted and there are three
operational facilities in Uganda.

Public Access
The interface between rural areas and the Internet appears to be at what Giddens would
call a time-space edge or ‘ forms of encounter between types of societies organised
according to different structural principles’ as was stated in Chapter Three. I think the
theory best put to one side until after the more mundane experiences have been outlined.

Urban alternatives
The concept of a telecentre has already been used by StarCom in an urban setting with
their International Communications Centres (ICCs). These are less exciting than their name
however and turn out to be office-type environments where an assistant carries out
services already mostly available elsewhere such as faxing, photocopying and operating
discount call booths that appear like any payphone. Electronic mail is sent through the
administrator’ s computer and there is a human barrier. Similar facilities are to be seen
around Zanzibar, a tourist area par excellence. There are perhaps a dozen locations where
at least emailing can be done and these are generally stationers or bookings offices with
email facilities as value added or connections subsidised by paying customers. Prices can
be negotiated and again, the services are mediated by secretaries, assistants and

There have been a number of ‘ Cyber cafes’ in Dar, Nairobi and Kampala. Three have
closed down and a similar number remain. Their charges are high enough (from $4 to $8
per hour) to discourage all but backpackers, pressed expatriates and a number of staff and
friends, from browsing web sites. They also act as a test-ground and training centres for
those who are thinking of subscribing to a Internet service. A row of computers with the
default homepage seems neither enticing nor a start-point towards an inclusive information
society. These costs and aesthetics, together with a limited market, have meant that
profitability is low against connection and hardware overheads. There have been no
competitive battles that have reduced prices and the individual ‘ surfing’ experience goes
against customers pooling their money to share a terminal. ICCs, Email services and cyber
cafes are not tools that can spread connectivity very far. The furthest penetration into the
local market has so far been students wishing to check webmail accounts and those
exchanging emails with relatives overseas. When asked how many of these – irregular,
local to international – customers there were, the system operator at Zaccoserv1 in Zanzibar
replied that around 50 people emailed intermittently. Data for webmail customers is
provided below.

Rural pilots – Nakaseke telecentre

More recently telecentres have been funded and encouraged by ITU and Acacia organised
projects1 in their new incarnation as Multipurpose Community Telecentres. The three active
centres are in areas infrastructurally but not physically distant from Kampala – just north of

A very small email provider in Zanzibar founded in 1993 and since out-competed by the ISP ZanziNet
Acacia is the telecommunications arm of IDRC, the initial funders of FidoNet projects
the capital at Nakaseke; on the main road to the South-West, Buwama; and at the edge of
Kampala, Nabweru. The Nakaseke telecentre in Luwero District,2 was visited in the course
of the research while others have become operational in the latter part of 1999. It is
situated about 50km north of Kampala in an area devastated by the violence of the last
years of Obote between 1982 and 1985.3 It has a market every two weeks which is very
busy in the coffee season and it is a district of farmers and with a hospital.

The telecentre itself is based on a library/resource centre with fax, phone and dial-up
Internet connection. It has good facilities, excellent staff and is managed by a local
committee drawn from education, farming, women’ s and youth representatives while a co-
ordinator from Kampala visits once a week. The project has brought new telephone lines
and computers with the objective of serving and training the community in IT and Internet.
Participation is high and there are a hundred people already registered and some with
ready money to pay for, or invest in, services. Already farmers have prepared contracts on
the machines and the newly trained facilitators are marking up web pages after only six
months experience with computers.

There are some blockages that have failed to meet the high expectations that have been
raised by official visits and the introduction of the world through an Internet interface. The
telecentre has been struggling with phone lines and to get on-line since November 1998
and by April 1999 they were still not live. The battery power back-ups were not installed
and any computer breakdown takes time, money and distance to fix. The district hospital
too, will be prepared to try out telemedicine but it has yet to receive its own telephone line.
Bookshelves have yet to arrive and new and expensive books lie ordered and catalogued
in boxes. In the wider community there is still 80% illiteracy 4 so there are language and
communication barriers to be addressed in the project.

Logistical shortcomings seem to be the result of a complex system with many funders and
providers of inputs and services failing to deliver together. The example of UPTC (now
UTL) and the telephone lines shows the problems of both organisation and connectivity.
Without the possibility of a ‘ lubricated’ or fast-track process, the telecentre suffered from a
less-than-voice-quality connection limited to weekday office hours for the first six months.
Technical difficulties of exchanges and maintenance of cable in rural areas added to the
dilemma. For a prestige project there have been too many disappointments already,
despite initial successes.

The telecentres at Buwama and Nabweru follow a different model varying by organisation,
funders and infrastructure. IDRC has implemented the projects through the USAID-funded
East Africa Help Desk run by Charles Musisi whose pedigree includes HealthNet, Mukla
and Uganda Online, a small ISP. Connectivity is provided by mobile phone and this has
been donated by the mobile phone service provider, CelTel. Both are in areas with coffee
production and the comparisons between the successes and failures for these three

Nakaseke Multipurpose Community Telecentre Pilot Project, Uganda
ITU, UNESCO, Uganda Public Libraries Board (UPLB) , UPTC, British Council
And it is said that Museveni himself hid there while being pursued by government troops
In the sense of alphabetisation.
projects will give a balanced view of location, community and project implementation for the

Telecentres promise to rewrite theories of time-space edges yet the contradictions that may
seem to exist between hot and cold areas are not as hard and fast as McLuhan’ s textbook
example.5 Since Queen Victoria’ s death – perception, reflection and rumour of the far-
outside have been written in the metaphor of development. Television, the glimpse of it or a
life in its shadow, clarifies pictures of the promise of progress both through the carrier (TV)
and the carried (programmes). The weight of historical experience filtered through layers of
opinion mean that there is pre-acceptance and enthusiasm for a new technology. The view
of Internet from a district neighbouring Kampala might be seen through a cutting from the
‘ Up-Country’ section of The Monitor newspaper:

‘ Mukono RDC, Peter Kalagala, has blamed the increasing rural-urban migration among
the youth on lack of computer knowledge, saying the youth are more interested in
towns which have access to the Internet. He also said that despite the growing
population, tax collection is dwindling due to lack of computer data. "With the presence
of computer data, there would be no need for anyone to ask for tax exemption," he
said. Kalagala was, Sept. 1 commissioning a one-month computer literacy course for
Mukono district heads of department and headteachers.’ 6

It says more about Mr. Kalagala’ s version of the Internet than ‘ the youth’ but underlines
modernity and its drawing power. The solution to rural-urban migration is rural development
and Internet. More than factories and tractors, it has the potential and significance to bring
the world to the village if literacy and markets offer this space. At the same time there are
local uses including Mr. Kalagala’ s idea of databases and tax.7

Telephones and power

Telecentres are not the only working model of a rural interface for Internet and email
connection and they have followed other commercial, agency and NGO ventures. The
basis of these temporary connections have been wireless carriers. Digital technologies
make increasing efficient use of narrow bandwidth as demonstrated in the nascent
metropolitan networks that are proceeding piecemeal in Nairobi and Kampala but with full
state involvement in Dar es Salaam. The example of Zanzibar is not helpful here and
countries are watching South Africa to see a fully adventurous and organised attempt at
providing telephone connections through the air. Large-scale wireless telecommunications
field trials are being undertaken in rural Kenya1 with promising results in terms of
technology. Implementation of rural networks would require significant extra funding and
these future telecommunications services would be likely to be based on the technologies
of wireless local loop, HF radio2 and satellite mobile. They are (presently) low bandwidth
connections but have digital capability, they are all significantly cheaper than copper-wire
technologies in the short and medium term. Their properties are outlined in Figure FF.

McLuhan M (1994) Understanding media: The extensions of man Routledge, London pp22-40
Musisi- Musoke M (1998) The Monitor September 5th 1998
I think surveillance is a bit dramatic in this context and that ’modern’ and ‘efficient’ cover the non-emergent
properties here.
Rural telecommunications field trial and commercialisation pilot, Kenya. World Bank InfoDev and KPTC
Radio that operates in the 3 to 30 Mhz range by bouncing signals off the ionosphere, formerly short wave.
Figure FF
Properties of wireless technologies
Local Loop HF Radio Satellite Mobile
Range of service 20 km from base 1000km universal
Hardware Cost per Unit $1000-$1500 $3000 - $10000 $200 - $1000
Extras Power Source Battery Battery
Data rate (Date) 9.6k (1996) 9.6k (1997) 14.4k (1998)
Call cost Normal None High
Configuration Network Individual/Network Individual
User training None Medium None

Source: Jensen 19961

Jensen M (1996) Wireless Technologies Acacia report IDRC,
Shortwave email
Of the three technologies in Figure FF, only HF radio data services have been developed
within the region. BushNet, based in Kampala, Uganda was founded to exploit technologies
developed in the course of United Nations operations in the Central and Eastern Africa.
Again it was a form of voluntarism that helped establish the technology and the World Food
Programme (WFP) has a track record of experimenting and developing leading edge
technologies in ‘ disaster areas’ and remote locations with the need for some connectivity to
co-ordinate remotely. The HF email system has been used to connect WFP in Kampala
with two dozen Deep Field Mailing Stations in the Great Lakes region 1. It combines
conventional emailing software, a default radio protocol and reconfigured radio-modems.
Remote communications with appropriate technology presented a near market package
which has readily transferred to commercial application. It offers automated
datacommunications together with voice and telephone functions and is marketed for
tourism, business and community use. It represents a technology where value has been
added locally through the production of a regional configuration and, of course, it is

The HF connections started as expensive commercial propositions but there are two good
examples of not-for-profit initiatives that are there to be copied. First is a pastoralists
community media project in northern Tanzania2 which will be discussed in the next chapter.
Second there is radio email connection to Kuluva Hospital, Arua which was set up by the
Uganda Connect project. Run by more-missionary-than-missionary expatriate volunteers,
this NGO has dragged forward connectivity issues and practical technologies but left many
former supporters behind in the rush to Internet salvation. Its legacy here was to execute a
valuable, reliable, low cost and ‘ appropriate technology’ connection with a sustainable
future. The multiplier effects of selfless acts of ‘ diffusion’ can be seen in the examples of
connectivity for health development in the next chapter. The immediate consequences
however have been to allow concentrated yet global communication where a 12km gap
existed before and to prove the position and replicability of mail over radio.

Who is using the Internet?

The analysis of an East African Internet Service Provider provides a powerful insight into
the composition and diffusion of users in May 1997. It has a sample in excess of 700
accounts which more than covers the inadequacies of using a single ISP profile and allows
a view of around 30 percent of a single country’ s Internet population. The five categories of
data are the connectivity status, the physical location by telephone dialling code of the
user, the locale of the user, the sector and an institutional classification. They strike a
balance between anonymity and precision and the largest compromise was in fitting a user
to a single sector and where a category such as ‘ service’ covers forms of consultancy,
maintenance and service not the wider, more conventional, tertiary umbrella.

The status of connectivity shows the splits between users with email-only, with different
levels of Internet access, grouped by hours free on-line together with users that are behind
in payment. In all only 57% of users were paying for current accent and this splits 70/30

Interview, Official at the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs, Nairobi, August 1997
Community Media Project, Orkinerei, Tanzania UNDP, EcoNews, OIPSIS
between defaulters and those with gratis accounts. Attitudes to timeliness of payment on
the part of users and patronage on behalf of the ISP are not affected by the commerciality
of the enterprise and these would be problems to address in lean times or under strict
management. The split between email-only and some Internet access is 18 percent to 72
percent so the extra cost of at least some browsing or other functions is attractive. It
underlines the move from the FidoNet mail services to Internet services and the
attractiveness of this option and another factor is revealed by cross-matching data. Just
under a third of those choosing UUCP mail have contact numbers outside the capital and
this is a better choice for poor quality telephone lines. It indicates that the telephone data
may be flawed in some way and a closer look at the anonymous user profiles shows that
there some institutional names in fact reflect locations outside the capital.

The figures derived from contact telephone data point to an overwhelming concentration of
users in the capital city with just 7 percent indicated as outside and 6 percent with mobile
phones. The proportion of email-only users is identical to this first figure and indicates then
that users outside the capital could be perhaps double the number previously indicated and
that email is a choice governed by location as much as by charges or choice. Nonetheless
location data puts users in the capital city at over 80 percent of the total with the remaining
fraction – 7 percent – with an unknown contact number. The data has been correlated with
the wider data collection and through the telephone directory to reduce ambiguity. With a
maximum range of error, I estimate that the split between rural users, mobile-based users
and users in the capital as 14,6 and 75 percent respectively. This is not a surprising
statistic and reflects concentrations of user sectors in the capital and administrative
information rather than the use of datacommunications in the field.

Few local users

Locale, sector divisions and institution extend the user algorithm and are grouped in Figure
FG. The basis of the classifications was on overt company or organisational registration
and by using name as a marker for accounts where the email name matched the account
name.1 The telephone directory was the ultimate arbitrator to confirm continuity of stay plus
certainty of identity and leaving a maximum of 15% as unknown2. Locale has been drawn
as national, African and international categories and gives the breakdown of these
divisions, tellingly, as 34 percent, 5 percent and 53 percent respectively. Over half of email
users were internationally based and a only a third certainly local.

Unless they were obviously tied to an organisation – for instance the editor of a national newspaper
As dial-up connectivity is fixed by telephone access and the notion of ex-directory numbers is extremely rare
the phone book is a very useful constant.
Users by sector Figure FG
Locale, sector and institutional
divisions in an ISP user base 1997
Unknown 14.3
Expatriate 13.3
Development 12.2
Health 7.7
Agriculture 7.2
State 5.7
Tourism 5
Trade 4.3
Industrial 3.9
Religious 2.9
Transport 2.9
Media 2.8
Computer 2.6
University 2.5
Service 2.2
Diplomatic 1.7
Legal 1.5
Financial 1.2
Academic 1.2
School 1.1
Pharmaceutical 0.7
Insurance 0.7
Oil 0.7 Users by institution
Telecommunications 0.4
Accountancy 0.3 PercentCommercial34
College 0.3 Individual19.3Government14.7
Internet 0.3 NGO10.2Unknown7.2Agency7
Social 0.3 Academic6.5Organisation1.2
Arts 0.1
Environment 0.1

Sectorally the divisions in users is more complex with 30 categorisations. These are
displayed in Figure FG in tabular format. I see them as reflecting scales of outward
orientation, dependence, economic importance and liquidity in that order with concentration
as a rogue factor. Expatriates embrace four of these traits while arts, social services and
environment are poor and impacted by larger sectors. Modern and high technology sectors
such as oil, telecommunications and Internet are squeezed down the list because of their
minimal presence in numbers and concentration of connection points.

Institutional data shows that the bias is towards company and commercial access but that
individuals – 80 percent expatriates – and government are not poorly served. A closer look
at the data shows that government actually means bilateral initiatives and diplomatic
missions plus local ministries and IMF influenced reform bodies rather than elected national

Final analysis – Internet mail

Data has been taken from Internet mailing logs to analyse more current trends in traffic.
The resulting graphs show incoming and outgoing email traffic details by message and size
for two Internet Service Providers, CyberTwiga3 and SwiftGlobal Uganda.4 Twiga was the
first Tanzanian ISP and its data covers the 18 month period between January 1996 and
July 1997. SwiftUganda started its Kampala-based Internet service at the end of 1996 and
the data covers a twelve month period between January 1997 and January 1998. The three
segments are continental patterns, country by country patterns and information from
second level domains and they show data that is specific to the ISP and a reflection of its
user base. Comparisons are made to telephone and FidoNet traffic which reflect national
trends and these are the only anchoring points to larger analytical units.

The data for continental traffic is set out in four graphs, Figure FH, that show incoming and
outgoing numbers of messages and volumes in proportion to total traffic. The first columns
show African traffic which is mainly comprised of local traffic between users on the same
Internet service and in the same country with more detail shown in country statistics below.
Both incoming and outgoing levels are affected by message size and Twiga exchanges
large messages both ways, averaging 22Kb, or five pages of text, while SwiftUganda’ s
traffic averages just over 6Kb. Incoming message proportions are therefore equal while
Swift sends well over 50% of its messages locally or continentally to 50% of Twiga’ s
incoming volume and 40% of its incoming messages. These high figures for African traffic
display the characteristics of ‘ late Fido’ – between 1996 and 1997 – where there are two
common characteristics. First they are both in an era where electronic mail use has
matured in terms of its acceptance and user-friendliness while second they represent a
time where flat-rate charging systems were in place.

The Americas and Europe are represented well in the traffic patterns with an enormous
amount of incoming traffic for SwiftUganda from the Americas compared with around one-
third of Twiga’ s total. Message sizes are nearly half the size of African traffic both ways for
Twiga while SwiftUganda sends messages averaging twice the size of those it receives.
This helps balance out the disparities between its incoming and outgoing volumes which
are 10 to one with the Americas against an imbalance of around two to one in the Dar es
Salaam exchanges with the United States. European statistics do not follow this extreme
pattern with the exception of the Russian Federation, which maintains a ratio of 500 to 1
with CyberTwiga based on 24 messages averaging 700Kb each!5. Its balance is skewed
towards Europe, three to two while traffic sizes from Kampala are close to parity with
Europe with messages numbers heavier incoming. Surprisingly Europe is only really
important for SwiftUganda in terms of the size of outgoing messages where they are
double the size of any other continent, averaging 15Kb.

3 and just ‘Twiga’ from here on
4 and ‘SwiftUganda’ from here on
Bull Worldwide Information Systems, Russian division, probably linked with ‘Smart’ cash cards. The system is no longer operational.
Figure FH
Continental email traffic
CyberTwiga and SwiftGlobal Uganda

Asia and the Pacific region are badly represented in proportions of email traffic in these two
East African examples. The one distinctive characteristic is that emails sent from these
locations and to both ISPs are huge if few and far between. Statistically significant Asian
and Pacific countries in electronic correspondence are Australia, Japan, Singapore and
India for CyberTwiga, in that order, and just India and the Emirates for SwiftUganda. This

suggests two possibilities/tendencies the first of which is that other ISPs have cornered the
market for communities, businesses and organisations handling this content and the
second that exchanges are constrained by the technologies or markets between these
areas. Evidence from the African traffic suggest the former in terms of technology and
evidence from FidoNet, trade and telephone calls reinforces this view.

By country and domain

The picture from Figure FI shows that Tanzania and the United states dominate Twiga’ s
pattern of email connections as well as the commercial .co and .com domains. This points
to most email traffic moving amongst ISP mailers and proprietary systems, with surplus
being made somewhere a result of transactions. Country traffic reveals that the continental
statistics not affected by Tanzania and the US are comprised of smaller pieces added
together. In this country perspective the presence of Denmark near the top of rankings is
double-edged. Telecommunications restructuring, aid and diplomatic activity can cause
traffic to rise but at the same ISP preference affects indicators. Domain information
indicates traffic is indeed marked by projects (here the .tele domain, the .cowi domain) and
diplomacy (the .pj domain) but ISP clustering can be neither proven nor disproven.

International traffic is dominated by faxes and the UNCTAD trade point development centre
mailing list1. This explains large numbers of smaller messages. Incoming fax traffic are
confirmations of delivery and billing while the mailing list contains small pieces of a
continuous dialogue. Outgoing traffic would therefore contain larger messages for fax and
indicates a greater stream of outgoing agency (World Bank, ITU, United Nations) traffic. In
a more general overview the receivers and senders of emails are similar to those for
Ugandan telephone traffic with immediate trading partners, donors and countries where
there have been significant relationships in the post-Cold War period2

Domains provide a good insight into the composition of traffic. The three domains .edu, .ac
and .uni* should be read together. They all represent educational and university
communications with the last, .uni*, figure compiled manually from countries without
institutional domains.3 This places them above .net traffic in incoming and just below .org
traffic in the outgoing selection. The combined non-government traffic of organisations and
educational sectors then becomes the second most importance category below commercial
traffic helping to show the residual effect of FidoNet and the continuing importance of these
institutional currents. The ‘ odd’ domains, again from countries with no institutional domain
facility, are mixed between large companies and consultants (.cowi, .carlbro, .ericsson),
Internet service providers (cybernet, clinet, tamnet and arcadis) plus government
development agencies (.gov, .idrc) and mailing lists (.dinoco). The spread indicates the
difficulties of information gathering against non-standardisation in the Internet.

It describes its services as, ‘ GTPNet, connecting Trade Points and Trade Promotion Organizations around the
world [and] the Electronic Trading Opportunity ETO system which uses email based technology to broadcast
trade and investment leads among Trade Points and ETO subscribers…The ETO NewsGroups… receives 2
million access per day and broadcasts over 2.5 million emails every day. The ETO total email broadcast
reached 0ne billion emails in October 1996… The ETO system now reach over 7 million companies around the
world, with a distribution of 40% via email, 30% via newsgroups’
which is over ten years ago and preceded Internet
For instance is the University of Kiel in Germany and is the University of British Columbia in
Canada. The institutional element prefixes the institutional classification to the name
Moving to the SwiftUganda statistics, in Figure FJ, there are more distinct exceptions within
the email exchanges marking the beginning of an Internet service. This is where the user
base has distorted a pattern that might compare to telephone call statistics or to trade, aid,
tourism and commercial influence. It also marks the specificity of email and its functions.
Countries that immediately ‘ stick out’ are Iceland, Portugal, Poland and ‘ Yugoslavia’ . Firstly
the extreme concentrations of traffic for the United States and Tanzania seem to be partly
caused by the ISPs’ start-up process where internal messages and contacts to and from
the United States parent. The remaining volumes are relatively small and diffused allowing
marginal countries with strong presence in the ISP’ s client base to appear in the rankings.
Iceland’ s traffic is spread between many destinations which indicates that it is does not
replace a dedicated link, merely that there is really some strong traffic there and possibly a
connection with Danish traffic. Portuguese traffic is heavily weighted by the contribution of
Marconi ( engaged in telecommunications projects, Polish traffic is primarily to and
from educational domains and traffic to Serbia/Yugoslavia is attributable to some of
SwiftUganda’ s technicians and manager’ s own emails.

With these limitations the emails in and out of the Kampala ISP can be read as coming
from different parts of the same spectrum as the Twiga results but on a steeper curve away
from the main country traffic generators. In terms of domains there a much stronger
representation for educational traffic arriving through SwiftGlobal although the bulk is
concentrated from two US sources, comprise of many small messages and are not
mirrored by outgoing traffic indicating that these are probably mailing lists. Organisational
and network traffic reflect a similar balance to Twiga’ s incoming mail and the vague trend
points to a 7:1:1:1 divide between .co/com, non-government, .net traffic and other domains
in this category. Outgoing traffic has a slightly heavier weighting to the .co/.com measures
and specific to SwiftUganda are the .cprm (Marconi), .t-online (German ISP) and .iss
(Italian health) domain which mask disappointing levels of outbound government, network
and academic messages. Volumes correct this distortion with the exception of large
message sizes to .tele (Danish telecoms) and .icelandic (Frozen fish)

Figure FI Country and domain rankings for CyberTwiga email
Incoming Size Messages Outgoing Size Messages
Tanzania 611,323,394 USA 37,101 Tanzania 611,570,647 Tanzania 27,065
USA 418,901,203 Tanzania 27,020 USA 256,834,634 USA 17,877
Denmark 83,937,758 Int'l 7,732 Int'l 47,425,959 Int'l 3,944
UK 44,958,850 UK 5,213 Denmark 40,658,798 UK 3,612
Kenya 41,428,269 Australia 3,632 UK 40,382,630 Denmark 2,851
Uganda 38,871,636 Denmark 2,844 Belgium 25,735,329 Kenya 1,453
Sweden 34,965,497 Finland 2,741 Kenya 24,808,092 S.Africa 1,320
Australia 32,173,404 S.Africa 2,484 UAE 22,376,815 Germany 1,275
S.Africa 31,253,889 Kenya 2,162 Nederland 21,183,441 Nederland 1,260
Nederland 28,919,129 Nederland 1,858 Australia 20,718,918 Sweden 1,255
Belgium 23,973,126 Canada 1,684 S.Africa 18,903,920 Canada 1,152
UAE 22,908,179 Germany 1,377 Finland 17,463,788 Finland 1,044
Finland 21,778,752 Sweden 1,283 Sweden 15,918,382 Australia 1,040
Singapore 20,941,617 Norway 1,006 Germany 13,556,557 Norway 1,004
Canada 19,521,542 Italy 650 Canada 11,706,889 Italy 872
Norway 19,281,269 Belgium 547 Norway 11,647,395 Ireland 496
Russian Fed 18,291,108 Uganda 484 Uganda 10,718,173 Belgium 385
Int'l 14,258,879 Ireland 453 Italy 6,616,761 Brazil 370
Zambia 10,243,936 Switz 421 Ireland 3,875,706 Singapore 363
Germany 10,090,959 Singapore 401 India 3,117,016 Japan 353

Incoming Size Messages Outgoing Size Messages
co 739,173,754 co 32,350 co 656,708,670 co 30,003
com 330,661,478 com 21,802 com 177,619,962 com 12,819
org 94,166,088 org 10,914 org 77,272,103 fax 3,873
net 59,474,275 edu 7,544 fax 45,181,671 org 3,809
edu 38,900,963 uni* 5,236 net 40,013,914 edu 2,535
uni* 22,311,637 net 4,146 edu 25,159,881 ac 2,236
ac 22,008,335 fax 3,756 co 21,231,718 net 2,030
bullsa 18,031,375 untpdclist 3,729 ac 19,431,487 co 1,312
cowi 16,584,406 ac 3,513 arcadis 10,290,200 uni* 930
cybernet 15,550,826 gov 684 idrc 9,795,494 ericsson 532
gov 15,122,951 clinet 654 cowi 9,551,294 tele 499
pj 14,941,825 vihrealiitto 641 dinoco 7,146,444 cowi 415
idrc 12,581,446 idrc 623 carlbro 7,112,495 tamnet 398
ericsson 11,352,795 ericsson 534 finnagro 6,762,679 gov 395
vilhelmina 10,789,824 tele 506 uni* 6,490,092 idrc 386

Figure FJ Country and domain rankings for SwiftGlobal Uganda email

Incoming Size Messages Outgoing Size Messages

US 249,667,064 US 53,210 Uganda 125,320,960 Uganda 22,189
Uganda 125,320,960 Uganda 22,189 US 60,727,234 US 7,378
Kenya 42,602,832 Kenya 2,256 Kenya 20,649,419 Kenya 2,183
UK 12,165,569 UK 1,559 Portugal 18,558,191 UK 1,328
Germany 10,974,608 Germany 1,071 Germany 7,167,820 S. Africa 439
Portugal 8,123,277 Canada 553 UK 6,114,551 Germany 414
France 5,796,901 S. Africa 525 Yugoslavs 5,088,071 Denmark 402
Switz 4,430,495 Denmark 381 Denmark 4,845,335 Emirates 338
Sweden 4,307,779 Nederland 351 Italy 4,480,980 Canada 319
UAE 4,271,351 India 341 Sweden 3,532,814 Iceland 231
Denmark 3,955,690 Iceland 321 Tanzania 2,250,233 India 198
Nederland 3,712,427 Switz 309 Emirates 2,130,387 Tanzania 166
Iceland 3,376,431 Sweden 155 Iceland 1,570,002 Switz 161
Canada 3,091,113 Int'l 152 Nederland 1,432,984 Norway 161
China 2,799,590 Italy 127 India 892,917 Nederland 147
Yugoslavs 2,444,961 Tanzania 123 Norway 865,874 France 129
S. Africa 2,115,053 Emirates 123 S.Africa 787,515 Sweden 122
India 1,490,948 Norway 118 Canada 652,888 Italy 111
Poland 1,446,248 France 90 Switz 570,631 Int'l 108
Tanzania 1,151,116 Australia 79 France 381,045 Japan 93

Incoming Size Messages Outgoing Size Messages
co 178027571 co 25661 co 149663804 co 25083
com 115131003 edu 22643 com 39537245 com 4541
edu 61643784 com 17934 net 18208933 cprm 1481
net 57818256 net 9124 org 11023841 org 990
org 21094625 org 3632 edu 5468835 t-online 940
cprm 7681357 ac 885 ac 4111191 iss 878
t-online 5855358 rwth-aachen 539 t-online 4065272 cowi 168
insead 4831203 bc 286 uni* 3997241 ac 148
ac 3144379 uni* 247 tele 3326254 kth 132
tj 2792334 fh-reutlingen 221 icelandic 3113924 eunet 102
ericsson 2580854 t-online 161 fax 2225268 edu 92
uni* 2413685 fax 131 iprolink 1305210 uni* 71
eunet 2101615 iprolink 131 on 1234484 icelandic 67
unhcr 2031520 tele 121 fh-reutlingen 1116452 uva 65

These Internet log analyses have shown that the bulk of email traffic is concentrated in
communications with users under other Internet Service Providers and with companies.
These statistics display the personal and commercial values to electronic mail while the
traditional development sectors that should be classified in the .org and .edu/.ac./.uni
domains play a significant but not determining role in the communication exchanges.
Incoming traffic is generally higher but the huge disparity with the United States deserves
attention as it indicates poor terms of communication trade and hidden costs to users in
terms of bandwidth consumed. The question should not be how to prevent the traffic
arriving but how to increase local content and outputs by for instance, initiating locally
based mailing lists that either subdivide issues for a local context or ‘ mirror’ discussions.

Halfways – Webmail and Workplace Access.

Access to the Internet from terminals is hard to measure but represents a discontinuous
form of connection and probably from public terminals. The following table shows results
from research using the Yahoo people search to collect information on all those accounts
displaying the ke, tz and ug country classification. Some accounts were duplicated and
some spurious but the figures display a manually compiled and scripted count of the
outputs. I regard it as an accurate reflection of those holding accounts in East Africa with
expatriate Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ugandans filtered out but expatriates in East Africa

Figure FK
Webmail accounts in East Africa
Kenya Tanzania Uganda
Yahoo 837 548 138
HotMail 210 32 29
RocketMail 197 94 15
Others 64 10 10
Total 1308 684 192

The statistics in Figure FK show that another ten percent can be added to user figures by
this measure. These are the uncounted and peripheral participants in Internet with an email
identity held on a computer in the US and unable to check mail with the regularity of paying
subscribers. However there is another sector that offers restricted email, and possibly
Internet access – workplace and university systems.

The Bank of Tanzania network offers email to its employees and shows user email
addresses live on the Internet.1 A count shows that around 500 personal accounts have
been activated. Other known email systems of this kind are the PriceWaterhouseCoopers
system operating through a secure gateway, the African Virtual University, TTCL and most
UN agencies. It is a sector that is proliferating and adds a further 5-10% 2 on the number of
East African users. The experience of Internet is spreading and public-access and
employee accounts are growing probably a little faster than conventional subscriptions.
Intranets are hiding growing Internet use.

Handy but extremely insecure. After all it is a bank.
My estimate
Infrastructure and Growth re-emerge
The agenda of development has been conditioned from its inception by the concern for
building spaces of development. In the period between 1880 and 1980 this seemed to
govern all development policy in East Africa as outlined in Chapters Two and Three. From
the 1980s, the modernisation of government and its role in the management of the
economy became the development priority of international agencies and this was forced
upon the state itself through the policies of structural adjustment. Underlying these changes
however was the continuing delivery of large amounts of funds for large physical
infrastructure projects. Chapter Six has detailed the telecommunications restructuring
programmes that re-laid digital connections over the paths of redundant analogue systems
and examined channels created and reserved for new Internet and datacommunications

The late 1990s has seen the regrouping of Internet within a larger telecommunications
paradigm. This is partly due to ‘ hopping on the bandwagon’ of successes credited to
privatisation and liberalisation but also due to the increasing homogeneity of converging
telecommunications technologies as shown in the move from POTS3 to VANS4. The
models for this are being formulated in developed countries where three forces are
converging towards a meeting point. Digital television now incorporates information
services and interactivity as value-added and technologically integrative sides of commerce
and infrastructure. Third generation mobile multimedia services or Universal Mobile
Telephone Services (UMTS)5 incorporate messaging, querying and data delivery for
cellular and satellite telephones. Lastly, the growing domestic bandwidth available through
fibre-optic cabling and the compression of conventional copper cables using digital
subscriber loop (xDSL). The implication is that Internet, in the form we understand it as a
distinct method of connection, has already passed its useful lifetime. New technologies are
developed outside Africa and the continent is a prisoner to these trends and hopelessly
dependent on movements in informationalised countries. The orthodox telecommunications
industry first spurned then embraced and now has incorporated this packet protocol into a
wider, multimedia and electronic commerce, assault on service industry.

In the face of this it is wise to look forward with a broad view yet to note that the
commercial engine of growth requires attention and capital to be focussed on wide sectoral
possibilities. Drawing attention back to Africa, these interests are most concentrated in the
small technical sector and in government and regulation. The World Bank, ITU and USAID
Southern Africa Regional Telecommunications Restructuring Programme ensure that the
agenda sticks to the vector of liberalisation and privatisation and that telecommunications
solutions are the best policy direction. In this cause, their publications and involvement in
publications and publicity is direct, hugely biased and relies on statistical manipulation and
the removal of choice. The main claim of these organisations is that growth in
telecommunications equals economic development and that liberalisation implies more
Internet access. Charles Kenny stated that the 1999 World Bank document, Economic
The Plain old Telephone System – analogue voice services
Value-Added Networks – digital data circuits carrying voice and other services
Which won’t be installed in developed countries until 2003 yet, with enhanced Wireless Application Protocols
and their offspins, will approach the ‘Dick Tracy scenario’
Internet toolkit for African policy makers found that, ‘ African countries with more liberal
telecommunications regimes had, on average, lower cost, broader access to the Internet.
The report also noted that a number of other studies, from a wide range of sources, had
found that there was a correlation between the level of telecoms development and future
economic growth’ 6 These are the myths on which the drive towards infrastructure and
growth are based.

Liberalisation and Internet

The Internet toolkit1 is an important marker of the tactics used to influence the direction of
telecommunications change as it involves the Africa Internet Forum, the United Nations
Economic Commission for Africa as well as the World Bank in its InfoDev2 manifestation.
The first critique must be its empirical methodology. It contains little data gathered by the
authors themselves and the example of the Kenya mission should be invoked again here.
The team pulled out from its visit to the Nairobi in 1997 because of the ethnic cleansing
occurring 300 miles away at Likoni, Mombasa. On this basis it sought data from the only
regular ‘ live’ source – Mike Jensen’ s web page at and
CABECA studies co-ordinated by Michael Menou3. The first source offers best estimates
for Internet subscribers and country by country and data on connection costs. The second
undertook data gathering in 1995 and 1997 with 46 interviewees for the Uganda section
and a total of 267 interviewees for four countries.4 The indications are that the research for
the Internet toolkit set a wider range of objectives and scope of datasets than this thesis,
yet delivered significantly less focused and less accurate data spread over a wider series of
time samples.

The report marshalled its evidence to show that there were a growing number of Internet
users in Africa and that liberal telecommunications regimes equated to cheaper Internet
access. It did not subtotal the number of users in sub-Saharan Africa and outside South
Africa. These were tiny – 7.7% of the African total with an average of 1163 users per
country. These statistics were also dated by the time they reached the report and the
numbers of users have doubled and tripled since, similarly costs of Internet access have
dropped dramatically from the figures used in the case of Kenya and Tanzania. The matrix
of cross-references for the data was that of a liberalisation/privatisation index that was
arbitrarily concocted with points for each liberalisation stage and on a scale of private
sector involvement multiplied out by the number of Internet hosts 5, the number of ISPs6 and
monthly costs to send 10 and 50 pages a day7. The data also includes the liberalised South
Posting to African Development Forum 1999 Discussion, July 13th 1999 re: Governance good or bad
World Bank (1999) Economic Internet toolkit for African policy makers AIF/UNECA/World Bank, Washington
The agency was created to solidify project and ‘research’ aims into one funding arm
Menou M (1998) Connectivity in Africa: use benefits and constraints of electronic communications –
Synthesis report Part1 and 2’ IDRC/UNECA/PADIS May 1998
Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia and Senegal
for instance every address counts as a national Internet host yet the ISPs in Tanzania, in Kenya and in Uganda are not counted. It is arbitrary and misleading data, East
Africa has 9 .com ISPs against 23 national domained ISPs – a 39% error in this case. It weights data to
countries where domain registrants are least vain about an international domain and are happy to make a
national domain the first choice, ie South Africa
Not including the extent of ISP oligopoly, nor their bandwidth nor the concentrations of users. State-only
providers are the ones discriminated against in the statistics.
This is an indicator of email only while they claim to be assessing Internet sensu latu. It also contradicts and
gives completely different results to the other measures (monthly flat-rate costs) used throughout the rest of the
Africa which, with 89% of all African Internet users, totally distorts any resulting picture.
When the data for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are analysed separately the indications
are that there is absolutely no correlation between liberalisation and Internet access, costs
and service. These, as shown above, are in fact very individual figures that depend on
national income, on the strength of competition and on the underlying costs of access
determined by the Internet connection costs and the financial burden of ISP licenses.

Some CABECA derived data seems to contradict the results of this thesis’ results. The
Internet toolkit lays out the ratio of outgoing to incoming emails as 1.2 or 240 to 2008.
Chapter 5 showed that for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda these ratios have fallen from a
maximum of 0.6 to below 0.2 – a difference of 600% from the CABECA data. Internet email
data shows figures of 0.7 to 0.1, reaffirming the ambiguity of these extraordinary statistics.
Also the data puts the number of subscribers/users per connection at between two and
eight which I see as a wholly misleading and ambiguous figure.

The growing use of web mail detailed above shows that there is an increasing informal
method of connection sharing that is extremely hard to measure. Statistics can only show
the two (subscriber numbers and web mail users) side by side without CABECA’ s bizarrely
presented statistics of shared terminals and connections. However other CABECA data is
useful and falls outside the scope of thesis data. Numbers of email sent per subscriber
were garnered from survey and interview data where this thesis did not attempt to collect
the constituent parts (emails sent and subscriber data) from the same ISP because of
privacy considerations. The figures show 48% sending at least an email a day and another
44% sending 1-5 emails per week. This proves that connections are used regularly for
email at least but sheds no light on the general thrust of the World Bank document.

In summary, the Internet toolkit presents a warped view of the possibilities of connectivity
and policies towards that end in Sub Saharan Africa. Its statistical basis is at least partisan,
a point conceded by Kenny,9 and I would also add spurious as an adjective. It is the
cornerstone of a series of documents offering ‘ guidance’ to developing countries with
regard to privatisation and stress connections between economic growth and
telecommunications. Others include the introductions to the ITU’ s African
Telecommunications Development Indicators of 1996-1998 and its African Green Paper10;
the World Bank’ s Telecommunication policies for sub-Saharan Africa11; The Southern
Africa Transport and Communications and Development Commissions/USAID Model
telecom policy document and Model telecom law12; finally the African Development Bank’ s
Information technology and the challenge of economic growth.13 Their collective thrust is
simple. Telecommunications are good. Liberalisation is good. Telecommunications equals
growth. Telecommunications equals information society. Infrastructure is the solution.

These figure from World Bank 1999: Annex 6
Posting to African Development Forum 1999 Discussion, July 13th 1999 re: Governance good or bad
see ITU 1998; ITU (1996) The African Green Paper: Telecommunication Policies for Africa ITU, Geneva
World Bank (1997) Telecommunication policies for sub-Saharan Africa Discussion Paper No.353
Both prepared by Price Waterhouse Coopers, SATCC (1998) Model Telecom Policy Document, USAID
Washington and SADC (1998) Model Telecom Law, USAID, Washington
ADB (1999) Information technology and the challenge of economic growth, African Development Bank,
Economic Research Paper, No. 36
Examining growth
East Africa is a good example with which to display the logic behind the resurgence in the
growth and infrastructure paradigm. Figure FL plots growth in the number of telephone
lines and growth in GDP per capita together. There is a clear relationship between the two
variables and regressions provide a statistical inference of this. For Kenya 1982-1992 the
R2 measure is 0.98, for Tanzania 1973-1988 it is 0.97 and for Uganda 1985-1992 it falls to
0.84.14 Internet and electronic mail data cannot be reliably plotted or measured in this way
as their increasing use is split between protocols and it is initial and immature growth. This
measure however has founded an El Dorado for telecommunications analysts – the
statistical relationships between communications and economic growth.

There are problems in differentiating between these statistics as indicators and as

determinants of change. This is not always made clear by the reports already mentioned.
An idea of the flimsiness of the relationship is given by examples from Kenya of traffic
accidents and railway transport. Between 1985 and 1992, road traffic accidents give an R2
measure of 0.94 against GDP per capita. Similarly, the revenue from transport of livestock
on railways correlates at 0.97 for the same years15 It has already been shown in Chapter 5
that changes in incoming telephone traffic to Uganda show a strong relationship to changes
in imports and virtually anything else ‘ incoming’ . This indicates that there is a dead end, or
more gallicly an impasse, in the use of statistics to prove a point and that telephone traffic
and GDP per capita relationships are a phenomenon for indexing rather than prediction or
policy making tools.

And would have fallen further if there were further GDP statistics to align with the 1993 subscriber line drop
Sources from Kenya Government (1997) Statistical abstract Office of Statistics, Nairobi
Figure FL

The Internet toolkit and the World Bank itself still rely on the alchemy of these methods and
cite even more obtuse studies and assign them an importance above their results. The best
one that I have seen used indicators such as anti-government demonstrations and cabinet
changes,16 one of ’ a number of other studies, from a wide range of sources, had found that
there was a correlation between the level of telecoms development and future economic
growth.’ 17 Despite these extravagant claims there are indications that infrastructure helps
growth. There are some specifics that need to be dismissed before the argument precedes.
First the building of infrastructure feeds into GDP statistics themselves and these are aided
by the linkages with industry from actually installing or supplying the equipment and the
employment produced. That aside, the actual casting of infrastructure as a long term
skeleton or even a drip feed to the economy is indisputable. The change has been that
there is the underlying redirection of the economy away from the statist model and towards
a private model with cumpridor government. The installation of telecommunications
infrastructure will be directed by new and commercial actors.

The mechanics of privatisation that allow the funding of infrastructure improvements are
based in a crude sense on the mortgaging of national assets against overseas borrowing.
Previously the state would borrow by issuing government bonds but this involves high
interest rates and affect the national accounts. In this situation the World Bank has been a
useful partner with its triple-A credit rating18 however its leverage is enormous because of
its position of first and last resort. Its will has been most of the driving force of privatisation
and many of the risks of defaulting are based in Africa with project success rates in East
Africa between 1982 and 1992 the lowest in the world at 48.2 percent for Kenya, 34.8
percent for Tanzania and only 17.2% for Uganda19. These country stabilities such as
foreign exchange availability and rate, together with the regulatory and policy regime also
weigh against a private operator when balancing a risk.

No short-circuits to progress
The fact is that growth is driven by ‘ externals’ – commodity sales, foreign direct investment,
aid and tourism. Internet and telecommunications facilitate international marshalling of
resources. They grease the wheels of primary products, transport and
disbursements. East Africa is very much integrated with the world economy but with three
recessionary forces from agriculture and commodity prices, from aid and donor funding and
from external orientation – trade and tourism. Telecommunications is an index, not a motor.

The lifting of the shackles of colonialism was predicted to start an African renaissance. At
the beginning of the 21st century, the relaxation of state controls is predicted to do the same
thing. With little capital to finance any transitions there is little prospect of East African
nations leap-frogging into the information age as equal players. Chapter Eight shows how
international finance has begun to reconfigure some sectors and to produce truly modern
‘ Any peaceful public gathering of at least 100 people for the primary purpose of displaying or voicing their
opposition to government policies or authority, excluding demonstrations of a distinctly anti-foreign nature’ and
‘ the number of times in a year that a new premier is named and/or 50% of the cabinet posts are occupied by
new ministers’ in Easterly W and Levine R (1996) Africa’s growth tragedy: Politics and ethnic divisions Mimeo
World Bank, Washington
Kenny 1999
And also the WorldTel partners for Uganda. AIG has a triple A rating from Poor and Moody’s.
Message posted by Pratap Chatterjee on NATIVE-L list 29th October 1994 Wappenhams summary and
update based on an internal World Bank report
and international systems and linkages, especially in the banking and higher education
systems. However most changes are transfused by stories of individual projects, pilot
programmes and small advances. These are set against even more rapid international
changes, as yet unmatched in East Africa.

Chapter Eight
‘ Information economy’ and development

The ideas that were inspired by emailing and Internet in East Africa were first, that it would
be able to give a new form and reach to intercommunication for development. That shifted
to an idea that Internet could subvert the shackles of location and allow local participation
in a electronically interactive global economy with a comparative advantage of value-for-
money20 labour with transportable skills and unlimited by space. Lastly there has been a
move towards the idea that Internet can be a self-sustaining modern sector which uses a
low investment threshold to develop virtual infrastructures of retailing, trade and other
services. These claims have retreated spatially, socially and economically.

While development information is collected, published and produced by the centre there
has neither significant distribution of infrastructure and hardware nor subcontracting of the
building and stocking of knowledge bases. The participation and benefits derived from
digital and data driven communication technologies have been dissipated by a slow African
momentum towards fostering information skills, self sustaining investment and the
deployment of bandwidth with little effective encouragement from the centre. The lack of
systems underpinning remote business to consumer sales – card based transactions,
distribution networks and the exchangeability of currency – emphasise a further layer of
peripherality from circuits and mechanisms of exchange.

East African countries are followers rather than innovators21 and research and development
is centred in geographical regions and cities of specialisation in developed countries where
highly capitalised technologies are cultivated and marketed. The time leading up to ‘ take-
off’ for Internet technologies and interconnection has been ‘ creeping’ in western
economies while in East Africa there have been breakpoints – Fido email to Internet,
Internet to ecommerce and non-government to international projects. Work practices and
forms of digitalisation in the economy have been installed through bursts of finance, project
funding and investment. Continuity has been hindered by liquidity which is both tied to
transitions between comprador and cumpridor governance and a lack of systemness and

The present current of affairs in the ‘ West’ shows a consolidation of cheap or free Internet
access22, service delivery and exchange underpinned by huge economies of scale based
on accumulations of minute percentages of revenue from advertising and telephone
terminating rates. New interfaces such as mobile and cellular handsets are frontiers/front
regions of communications while the backtiers/back regions are the satanic mills of calling
centres.23 Divisions of labour have now split the 1995 job of ‘ webmaster’ into a year 2000
configuration of web designer, developer, producer, programmer, incubator, data miner
and information architect.24
Or perhaps cheap labour
In terms of indexes of research and development and patents by volume. Modern terms and measures in a
modern arena.
Calls and/or connections
Staffed mainly by women and appearing remarkably similar to the banks of loom operators in the 1850s and
of telephone exchange operators of the 1950s.
Based on a short trawl of the site
In East Africa only a selection of these changes have been introduced or gained a hold. A
deeper, non-market, process of economic restructuring has run parallel with degraded local
autonomy and the importance on foreign investment and the control of outsiders has been
reaffirmed. As Nyerere said in 1967, ‘ Private investment in Africa means overwhelming
foreign private investment. A capitalistic economy means a foreign dominated economy.’ 25

There are serial changes wrought by networks of connected computers and in the human
and institutional dimensions of economic relationships and ways of working. This chapter
will locate and analyse those changes that have actually gripped East Africa and it traces
local developments in instant communications by a broad sectoral overview. To start there
are the experiences of those sectors dependent on timeliness and currents of information.
Next, there is an examination of possible information economies through the restructuring
of labour relationships and occupations with a short pause at ecommerce. The chapter
then concentrates on the three social development sectors of environment, health and
education to assess their continuing histories following the decline of FidoNet email. These
locales have seen the most promising long-term investments and experiences based on
building local capacity through transfer of knowledge, technology and training rather than a
short term fix of encouraging inward investment. A post-script deals with the foundation of
development knowledge bases.26

Throughout the analysis there is qualification of forms of datacommunicated development

that might be emerging from this expanse of interactions. These show the ways in which
Internet has been installed, how users have gripped interconnection and how information is
passed between terminal, hard copy and word of mouth.

Private and proprietary27 networks, Development gaps

The theme of public and private infrastructure is at the core of seeing how there is clear
divergence in access to data communications. Public access data systems in East Africa
are licensed by the state and provided by small venture capital operations, mostly Internet
Service Providers. Private systems are necessarily part of global networks where speed
and security are seen as critical, perhaps defining, properties. They are concentrated in
finance, media and tourism. There is a blurring of these boundaries however and an
important target of Internet Service Providers is to move into the corporate market. At the
same time Internet Connectivity Providers are keen to spread risk and secure overheads
by operating as agents for both public and private networks. I see privacy and security as
the main perceptions affecting decisions between cheaper public routes or the expensive,
exclusive and managed connections. The proprietary network has been separate from
public traffic, by carrier and by code, and the most prominent systems are financial
networks for savings, investment and speculation.

See Chapter Three, African Socialism
A mixture of website, discussion forum and searchable library-like database dealing with development topics
such as livelihoods, microfinance and gender
I don’t like the word Intranet and I’ll try not to use it
Banks, Banking, Bankers
Financial networks are drawing urban centres and municipal branches towards instant
global transactions. The units of technology that are seen as central are cards – credit and
debit, communications networks, databases and encryption. The processes are
transaction, authorisation and verification, accounting and management. Figure GA shows
the configuration of such a network. It includes a management function that once would
have been devolved but cards and cashless systems are now firmly integrated into
international rather than national verification.

This model of spatially diverse organisation based on economies of hyperscale with chains
of accounted procedure is very removed from an individual’ s lived experience in East
Africa. A different form of a cashless system uses face to face interaction and reciprocity
rather than money as ‘ pure data’ and double entry ‘ real time’ balances. However there are
similarities, meeting points and means of sharing some of the benefits of global

Figure GA Management
Configuration of a bank
network Accounting


Cards Information Payments

East Africa


‘ Regional’ Hub

EPOS Authorisation

Internal External
Branches Transfer

connectivity and these will be examined below with reference to microcredit and further
reflection of gap theories of development.

While at least four East African banks failed in 1998-99, international banks maintain an
unflustered appearance. Part of the answer lies in the network, part in the ‘ sign’ and each
of these have been continually developed and upgraded in conjunction with the services
rich markets require. International banking networks promote the use of higher end
technologies and compatible links with which to carry the pure data of the cashless system
supported by verification, assets and ‘ trust’ . The underlying structure for interbank transfers
has been the Society for World-wide Interbank Fund Transfers (SWIFT), a co-operative 28
network which moves funds and documents over secure digital lines. In Tanzania the use
of the system by domestic banks has jumped from a single connection to four connections
as state monopolies have been reduced and a liberalised sector devolves control. It offers
a form of open access acceleration of transactions but does not satisfy the multiple
demands made by leading players who are building their own branch lines of credit and

based on the ‘nobody trusts anybody’ principle of co-operation
Barclays ‘ Orbit’ programme and Standard Chartered’ s ‘ Out of Africa’ project show a
tendency towards individual networks that dwarf the capacity of interconnecting links like
SWIFT. These two players are linking East African branches to central processing hubs
over proprietary connections and reorganising international relationships, tasks and
functions between the hub and the branch. Barclays’ system connects direct to Manchester
in the UK while Standard Chartered data travels to its London hub. According to Barclays,
there is a ‘ fixed point of reference’ and ‘ information is transferred within the networks rather
than gathered, disseminated or used for trading’ .29 For Standard Chartered, ‘ The
[information system] solution has enabled us to respond to accelerating global competition,
Y2K and the new regulatory requirements. We needed a swift implementation of the new
solution but it also had to be dependable… [and] …w ould ensure that the components of
this new framework would be reliably and securely linked, across different types of network
and communications, so that our operations would be covered globally. Now we can
monitor our risk exposure in near real-time around the world.’ 30

The financial sector has an ethic and an obsession for security with a strategy of
computerisation which contributes to cost saving through reduced risk, reduced labour and
higher information speed. Barclays are keen to state that systems are driven by the
demands of customers in a retail banking situation. Large customers demand standardised
services and individual customers demand easier transactions for cards and points of sale.
This implies minimum technological standards and a level of reliability that can only be
guaranteed with proprietary links controlled from end to end by a single institution.
Standard Chartered’ s position as a trading bank, where negotiating time zones is critical,
should imply a different configuration but it uses a similar, centralised UK hub. Both
networks necessitate the expatriation of many functions that were formerly carried out in
East Africa and trust has been relocated and digitised.

Speed, competition and niche

Time advantages through these, satellite-based, systems are notable and time delays
create asymmetries of advantage. From personal experience, a cash advance made in
Kampala was not debited from my UK account until 3 months later and this held true up
until 1997. Conversely, international1 payments to East African accounts have been held up
for long periods. The only continual winner was the banking group. Accounting at local
branches would have been disadvantaged when waiting for payments and the delays seem
to have occurred at the centre. By these examples, the opportunity costs of this delayed
capital would mostly impact on people awaiting overseas payments – externally oriented
and exporting customers. With new systems, subtotalling has moved from ‘ end of the day’
to real-time and information is captured earlier with all functions carried out in the UK.
Fund, verification and authorisation requests follow this pattern and services are

Signs and trademarks of corporate identity have become more globalised and corporate
procedures combine to reinforce the association of banking brands with efficiency, security
Interview with a senior Barclays official AFCAR programme, May 1998
TIBCO Solutions Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) technology helps Standard Chartered Bank manage
its global risk, in real-time, throughout its operations.
And this includes from African and other East African countries, even within the same banking system
and service. Faster transactions are a condition imposed by the standardisation of
technological networks and also imply less flexibility in the granting of loans with more fixed
criteria and the notorious points scoring system2 is now ubiquitous in East Africa. Harsh
judgements are made by modern measures – such as access to a telephone where less
than 1% have a line – and lines of credit are more fragile. For East African branches, local
autonomy is reduced in terms of strategic control and a central corporate identity is
embedded deeper within services.

International banks have promoted greater regional datacommunications links but the
actual connections are invisible to public service – Internet – users even though they follow
the same technological dynamic. Through currency markets and exchange rates,
government bodies and national debt, their effects reach even to the monies paid for
staples and the prices attained for commodities. The public interfaces for banking services
– the cashier, the ATM and the EPOS3 – have not spread dramatically outside major urban
centres however user charges for all customers remain high and with a minimum deposit.
ATM use is subject to hefty levies and they need armed guards which mitigates against
convenience and cost-savings. EPOS systems are scarce because of the infrequency of
valuable transactions while internationally accepted credit cards are rarely issued because
of stringent safeguards and high qualification barriers. There are knock-on effects in the
spread of retailing with constraints on the growth of a ‘ modern’ cashless customer base
closely interdependent with wider EPOS/ATM infrastructure.

Part of the vanguard of distributed money/data systems is the push for the interconnection
of local branches by satellite and to the centre. This tendency produces the diffusion of
service with accounted surveillance that reduces financial risk ultimately paid for by
customers, ‘ rationalisation’ and employment savings and perhaps by increased business.
Barclays Kenya, where it holds 25% of the banking market, deployed its information system
following clearance from the Kenyan government this year and installed a VSAT dish and
matching information system at each of its branches. Information travels over Internet
Protocol which is now perceived as secure enough to carry all forms of traffic. Tanzania
however was the first of the East African countries to be connected to the SCB and
Barclays networks. National entities have also initiated connections and two local banks,
the Bank of Tanzania and the Co-operative and Rural Development Bank (CRDB) 4, are
now configured with VSAT dishes and data networks.

This has pushed Tanzania towards a national topology of satellite interconnectivity

whereby many of its commercial and industrial functions are now conducted over these
VSAT links. There is a pattern of digital islands where poor public transport and

Where an applicant is scored by measures of stability and creditworthiness such as employment, ownership of
a telephone as plus points and bad debts and bankruptcy as big minus points. The moot points are that loans
are either granted or not according to the total score, they are based on secret criteria and the process is
hidden from the applicant. Some refinements are being made to this quantitative process in the form of
‘character scoring’ and ‘character loans’ enabled by quantitative techniques. Examples are thos of the
microfinance instution ACCION in Chicago and in Chile, see Donley M (1999) ‘Land of opportunity’ Crain’s
Chicago Business, November 8th 1999
Electronic point of sale terminal
Mentioned above as a newly privatised organisation. It is 29% owned by the Danish development Agency
DANIDA and conducts a lot of business with aid funders and
telecommunications arteries have been short-circuited with investment in exclusive yet
secure main lines for data. The pattern is being replicated in Uganda and Kenya. All
initiatives are welcomed in Uganda while, in late 1999, the KenSat network was opened.
KenSat bears a remarkable similarity to the Tanzanian Datel network – state operated
VSAT connectivity – and it will allow remote interconnection to the JamboNet and
KenStream services.

Aspatial competition
The transience of traditional ‘ branch’ banking has been exposed by cheaper technologies
that can offer similar high-security transactions. In developed countries, telephone and
Internet banking displace many functions of counter service but some middle level
functions are now available from a simple terminal on a public network. It is not an issue of
processing power but connections, gatekeepers, procedures and commissions. Remote
Access Management systems can process ‘ quasi-valuable communications’ such as
shipping or factoring contracts and international stock-broking deals from a standard PC.
This allows a company or individual to operate commercial and trading services1 over
Internet Protocol. The transactions are by text only through a United Kingdom ‘ post office’
and are ‘ stamped’ with confirmed delivery date and time. There are guaranteed financial
penalties if security is breached or the message is not delivered.2 The barriers of entry to
the market are lower and small players threaten to outcompete banks unless their
overheads are similarly reduced through speed.

Another example of competition ‘ from below’ are the recent East African interstate money
order services run by the three postal corporations that allow same-day payments within
the subregion and forty-eight hours for international transfers. They are based on another
technology network – the Postal 2000 system3 – and reaffirms the ease with which
technological ‘ tweaks’ can allow market entry, especially if it can build on already existing
institutional infrastructure. Computerisation has pervaded all forms of banking operations,
less formal employment is generated and many African locations can now operate in the
same time frame as developing country banks as well as expedite secure and value for
money regional transfers.

Opportunities for development space and gap theory revisited

With the advent of these middle level solutions – transfers independent of proprietary
networks and VSAT connected municipal branches – there are means for smaller
institutional units to undertake financial movements with local investment and to operate
regional and international connections. With the spread of the participatory ethos, poverty
targeting and community level microfinance – village banking, group lending, and credit
unions – there are less connected and grassroots initiatives that are viable, appropriate and
‘ fundable’ . New development space has been created based on the reduction of entry
costs and the levels of ‘ cuts’ to be taken by intermediaries forced by globalised competition
in the first case. In the second, microfinance uses local knowledge and mutuality to drive

Typically those of the vertical industries of commerce: banking, insurance, stocks and shares, shipping,
transportation and commercial law.
Personal contact, Ascend Communications representative for East, West and Central Africa. Ascend has
recently been acquired by Lucent Technologies.
East African 1997:19
enhanced repayments1 and targeted credit and savings. The information and development
potential drives forwards a fresh emphases on savings mobilisation and village level credit
for ends of poverty reduction or microenterprise.

Domestic savings and investment in Africa fell significantly over the years of structural
adjustment and the opening of electronic financial conduits. According to the United
Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) African Development Report,1 ‘ Gross
national savings (GNS)2 tell an even more daunting story. Between 1975 and 1997, GNS
declined by 42 per cent for Africa as a whole… [and]… GNS in sub-Saharan Africa
excluding South Africa and Nigeria fell by 60 per cent.’ The financial capacity for local
investment had been whittled away without visible growth in the economy, social capital or
agricultural surplus. An examination of the Tanzanian case from the Institute for Global
Communications isolates further constraints.3

Consistent with the demand of the IMF for a tight monetary policy, the government has
sought to lower inflation and increase the domestic savings rate by raising interest
rates. This has greatly increased the budget deficit, since a large portion of domestic
debt is owed by government-owned parastatals. It has also contributed to raising
informal-sector interest rates as high as 100 percent. The high interest rates, coupled
with the privatization of the Co-operative and Rural Development Bank, has meant that
credit for small-scale agriculture has virtually disappeared. According to the IMF, the
private (mostly foreign) banks now operating have restricted their activities "mostly to
trade financing in Dar es Salaam, avoiding for the most part domestic lending

Clearly there are also development gaps in savings and investment. With the tools of
Remote Access Management at the international level, the advent of satellite connected
municipal abnks and Postal Transfers at the regional and rural levels there are tools that
can reach around spatial and institutional constraints of banking and islands of connectivity.
In combination with existing project resources and experience plus the middle reach of
conventional banking there are clear possibilities of creating spaces of opportunity.

So far, sector projects such as microfinance and telecentres have been limited by ambition,
risk and interconnectivity while some of these limitations could be short-circuited and gains
made by cross-sectoral co-operation. A combination between these technologies and
sectors would enhance targeting of credit and savings products towards poorer, rural and
peripheral clients. Payment, credit and banking services at a community scale have
national, regional and international reach without huge transport and intermediary costs.
Infrastructure already exists at the locale of the Multipurpose Community Telecentre that
can undertake these functions with participant community management. The will, initiative
and donor commitment are in question here rather than local capacity.

Although much of these impressive results can be attributed to loans to women and their greater propensity to
repay. See Mayoux L (1999) ‘Questioning virtuous spirals: micro-finance and women' s empowerment in Africa’
Journal of International Development Vol.11 No.7 pp957-984, also, Obina O (1996) ‘Women' s access to credit
and finance in the 1990s’ The African review: A journal of African politics, development and international affairs
Vol.23 Nos.1and 2 pp33-45
UNECA (1998) African Development Report Economic and Social Policy Division, UNECA, Addis Ababa.
Quote, section 1.A.3
Defined as the sum of Gross Domestic Savings (GDS), net factor income and net private and public transfers
from abroad.
Hammond R and Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (1998) ‘The impact of IMF structural adjustment
policies on Tanzanian agriculture’ in On the wrong track: A summary assessment of IMF interventions in
selected countries January 1998 Development Group for Alternative Policies, Washington
In addition there are opportunities to be exploited in data driven commerce. There is a
market already existing in the development sector with activities conducted in London,
Geneva and Washington that are highly transportable. Services such as web page mark-
up, translation and audiotyping seem eminently subcontractable to developing countries.
Already some of the divisions of labour in web production have meant that agencies are
seeking outsiders to take on the work load of larger and larger online information
production. There are also demands from the local market and an existing skills base in a
general climate of underemployment. Starting from a narrow project or bilateral perspective
there are means of decentering information value added activities and piloting the
disbursement of development administration tasks into a form of development in itself.

Media Networks
More open conduits for data have been media networks. These are providers of financial
and general news carried over high speed links. With 200 accredited foreign
correspondents in Nairobi4 flows are significant although affected by the 'seasonality' of
elections and disasters. Financial information comprises a larger proportion of traffic
between developed countries and are also available as turnkey solutions within Africa.
Reuters and Agence France Press started as news providers with a growing component of
financial information and are open to membership by subscription. Now they provide
interconnection and intercommunication for global members offering equipment, email and
interactive services. Reuters operate a 64k leased Internet line out of Nairobi.
Datacommunications capacity is both internal and external, organising or purchasing, ‘ last
mile’ and international link connections. They can offer services as secure as banking
networks together with the financial information with which to make decisions. Their
infrastructure spreads with markets and underlying trading patterns, with a connected club
class of the private and organisational élite opting for these global solutions.

The growing presence of smaller online news services has also been seen in the region.
The New Vision newspaper was the first daily to be posted on the World-wide web in 1995
and since then all the leading East Africa newspapers1 have an Internet edition. The forces
behind this were initially as publicity for versions of the papers that would be emailed daily
to overseas subscribers. A standard rate of $US150 emerged and the ventures have
received a limited success. An example is that of UgandaNews, a small company that
would receive morning newspapers from all Ugandan sources and compile them into a
single daily emailable document delivered over the Internet for the $150 subscription. The
venture peaked in 1996/97 but by 1998 the sector had changed in character, subscriptions
fell and the service was discontinued at the end of the year.

There are two trends that determined this decline in the direct news by email market. First,
editors began to publish full editions online, seeking to place advertising at the forefront of
revenue gains. The international rather than local market for newspapers meant that
foreign currency payments for standard, banner type advertising would follow with the
President Daniel Arap Moi, Press Conference, Nairobi, 14th November 1997
Except the East African Standard which ran a dummy in 1997 and the Daily News which went off-line in late
1999. This may be due to unpaid bills. Most newspapers have initially been provided with email accounts and
web space, gratis.
regular international readers. Circulations had not declined as a result of online editions,2
news by email subscriptions had not boomed and more competition from more online
newspapers forced a rethink of strategy. Meanwhile, the largest surges in traffic on regional
newspaper sites have been in the wake of disasters. The Nairobi and Dar es Salaam
bombings generated a massive 100,000 hits a day on the KenyaWeb site while Julius
Nyerere’ s illness and death has increased interest in Tanzanian newspapers. Sensation
generates markets and a current of affairs.

Secondly AfricaNews, a not-for-profit organisation based in the US, entered the market in
mid 1996. It offered a common home for African newspapers while presenting them with a
form of a guaranteed return, a reduction in the costs of production and hosting with
consequent lowering of risk. They organise advertising on an entire site basis and, with
strong statistical analysis, can provide a more targeted and economical service to
advertisers. According to their statistics they boast a readership embracing the highly
educated, wealthy diaspora:

Over 90% are college graduates

85% have postgraduate degrees and 35% hold doctorates
Approximately 40% are African American
60% are in the 25 – 54 age bracket
More than a quarter have household incomes above $75,000
Average household incomes exceed $45,000
65% have lived overseas and 60% travel frequently (more than six times a year)3

The online news sector may not be assessed easily in financial terms. In many ways is it a
by-product of upgrading news-services to computerised systems where document mark-up
is easily configurable to a hypertext format. Then there are the financial advantages of a
contribution to fixed overheads. The rôle of local news in engaging with the diaspora is very
important especially as foreign news carries disaster information more readily than regular
business or social commentary. Investment, remittances and return flows of capital follow
opportunity as much as obligation. The experiences of Italy and Ireland have continually
suggested the economic importance of distant human connections in economic and social
change and evidence from Uganda has shown the example of returning Asians. Between
1991 and 1997 they contributed 50% of foreign direct investment in the country. 4 The
interlinking of remote readers and publishing country through this new space is an example
of distanciation. This should be qualified by adding that worldwide subscriptions to hard
copies have existed for a longer time and it is a form of instantiation – news arrives as it
happens without time penalties from post and transport – yet the some of the direct
experience of a newspaper is removed.

Circulations are generally increasing because of demographics and literacy, on the ground competition rather
than virtual competition is the determinant.
Sourced form the AfricaNews website, information for advertisers, I would think these are
fairly exaggerated claims however. There are no indications of numbers of regular users, the sample might be
small, I have never encountered a survey on regular visits to the site and non-visibility encourages imaginative
Kostecki M (1997) Uganda: Country case study for the International Trade and Development Centre World
Trade Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland
Transport and Tourism
The last network category of transport and tourism provides closed sector-based services,
membership services and also conventional public Internet access. Technical and market
convergence has seen global transport and tourism datacommunication networks move
into the markets of local and international dial-up access. The most significant player in the
East African market is the SITA network which offers the core services of airline ticketing,
reservations and communications. In 1993 it became a licence holder for Internet backbone
services for Tanzania and carried CyberTwiga’ s traffic between a London peering point.
With this experience the parent body has launched its infrastructure as part of a transitional
Internet service, I-Pass, and in 1998 it won the best Internet service award from Network
Week magazine. Its connections provide national PoPs for dial-up connections to a market
of internationally mobile subscribers. In effect a transnational organisation is attempting to
pick of the cream of East African subscribers – visiting businessmen, expatriates and
representatives of the donor community. It has a minuscule local presence and retains the
bulk of revenues outside of host countries. However a measure of its success – in terms
the number of users – is unavailable. The immaturity of the market at its launch may have
also hidden competitive threats from webmail and more ubiquitous free Internet access.

Other VSAT customers have been connected in the last months of the 1990s. Those of the
international hotel chains in the tourism sector, Tanzania Railways and also players in the
mineral industry. Current travels through and pays for modern links as parallel networks
and these connections – VSATs carrying Internet and other protocols – are also forming the
infostructure for local stock exchanges in a global market and the nervous system for the
delivery of exports and imports. More importantly this is the space where commodity prices
and their transport will be negotiated. Commodities make up over 50 percent of the exports
of Kenya and Tanzania and over 95 percent for Uganda5.

Electronic commerce
New value-added services outside these sectors could also be expected to follow global
examples or to build on the existing web presence of newspapers. Ecommerce has
spawned two National Task Forces – in Kenya and Uganda – to look at the possibilities
and problems of retailing or providing commercial applications over IP. The technology is
certainly available but the disparities between developing country infrastructure and
markets and those in industrialised, digitised and informationalised countries show the
fastness of the gap. Ecommerce has to be externally oriented because there are simply too
few users in East Africa. Internationally recognised credit cards are rare and this is the
cornerstone of online transactions. In logistical terms there are also disconnections such as
the lack of integrated and efficient just-in-time delivery and warehousing systems
characteristic of the amazon.coms or the Dells.

What is left are specialist sites for local ‘ ecommerce’ and souped up import/export
businesses. Local service sites divide in two. First, sites where goods can be ordered but
by email only, an example is the hugely expensive and perhaps some
shopping could be done this way. Second there are sites where time is saved browsing

Figures for 1994 from the 1995 International trade statistics yearbook (1996) UN New York
products, such as the online estate agency This ‘ newspaper but
cheaper’ model has extended to jobs and insurance.7

Exports are the most attractive ecommerce sector that cater to financially mobile customers
and use transnational parcel and postal companies. Without an international credit card
connection or overseas account everything is reduced to electronic advertising hoardings
with email back-up. Emoney never came to fruition and everything on the Internet is priced
in dollars, euros, yen and hard currency. The best submissions so far are tourism sites and
Muriuki Mureithi estimates that, ‘ the impact of the Ksh5 billion Kenyan annual bill on
tourism marketing worldwide could be considerably improved.’ 8

Agriculture and horticulture

The direct influence of Internet technology as ‘ perfect competition’ is bypassed by the
contracts, bonds and ownership of an historical plantation industries like tea and the
dispersed power of coffee cultivation but more welcome in the new, dynamic horticulture
sector. Really they are perfect examples of ‘ old globalisation’ versus ‘ new globalisation’ .

Tea has been a pawn in the transcontinental wars between the traditional beverage
sectors, the ‘ ready to drink’ market and the ‘ fast moving consumer goods’ sector. Major
players have been Brooke Bond, Liptons/Unilever, Tetley and Tata 9 yet ‘ consolidation’ is
seeing alliances between Brooke Bond and Unilever while Tata has taken over Tetley. East
Africa has also been heavily impacted by drought in 1997/99 and by frost in 2000 and lies
between the gods of oligopoly and weather. However Nairobi has the world’ s second
largest auction and generates high foreign exchange earnings for all three countries. The
online development of tea trading will be highly exclusive because of the distribution and
marketing oligopolies but there are fair trade and specialty sites in developed countries
already starting to promote the small scale growers interests.

Commodities have crossed into electronic, but not Internet, trading at the Nairobi coffee
exchange and the 1998 venture operates in a closed network with potential for some
controlled access. The coffee industry in Kenya is being torn apart by low productivity, mills
operating at very low capacity and the vacuum that followed the dismantling of the co-
operative system. More widely, prices are at their lowest since the slumps of the early
nineties. It has been horticulture which has become the most dynamic commodity sector
particularly in Kenya and now Uganda. It is a dramatic example of changes wrought
through globalisation and a prime candidate for transport and exchange mediated by global
computer networks.

Horticulture has grown from nowhere to one of the most important local industries in the
last fifteen years aided by zero or low import tariffs under the Lomé convention. WTO
negotiations in 2000 may stunt the growth of the sector with threatened duties of 15% and
this might shake it from the present contract and supermarket deals and into freer
Only 10% of properties to rent on this site are under $200 per month
Mureithi M (1999) ‘Re: The African information economy’ Message posted on the ADF discussion list 25th June
A multinational with significant high technology interests in India. Joint ventures include AT&T/Lucent, IBM,
Honeywell, UniSys and Microsoft.
exchange. Already the Kenya Flowers Network operates a London Office and website for
co-ordination and news while purchasing and selling online are promised by the Flower
Purchase Network, Floraplex. The advantages10 to companies are shown in the tutorial
section of their ecommerce site11 and read like a sales pitch for the information mode of
production itself.

Advantages for sellers

Expand Your Market. Offer Discounts To Build Loyalty. Gain Entry To Previously
Inaccessible Markets. Control The Price Of Flowers Sold. Negotiate A Price
Directly With A Buyer. No Longer Engage In Lengthy Telephone And Fax Machine

Advantages for buyers

Search For New Suppliers Of Exotic Products. Pay Lower Prices. Avoid Delay. Lower
Costs, Less Time. Bid On The Lot You Want Without Being Outbid. Flowers Spend Less
Time Waiting, And More Time In Transit. They Arrive Faster, Fresher.

Ecommerce initiatives are very slowly arriving. Newspapers remain the proven regional
model of success but their only income is from the click-throughs on web banners,
advertising duplicated from the newspaper and email subscriptions yet their overheads are
low. The leading sector of ecommerce on the Internet – pornography – does not look likely
to be duplicated while the second generation sectors – books, records, software and
hardware – may never be sold from East Africa, merely imported. It is in the buying and
selling of commodities that ecommerce may have the greatest effects but these changes
are out of the public view and in new contingent forms of just-in-time wholesaling. Global
computer networks are gradually colonising commercial exchanges and from the top down.

Environment, Health, Education and Electronic Networks

This FidoNet standard had become the preferred tool of East African networkers by the mid
1990s. Three sectors became pioneers in incorporating electronic techniques in their day to
day workings. Learning from the work of ELCI, education and health sectors embraced
extensions of their capabilities for information mobility and for negotiating distance that had
already been tested locally by NGOs in the field of environment.

Characterising the three sectors

Health and education are sectors where humanitarianism has traditionally been
concentrated. However this initial information technology transfer, and its implications for
communications potential and knowledge exchange, coincided with a rising global debates
in environmental issues. With the headquarters of the United Nations Environment
Programme situated locally, in Nairobi, there was further direct interaction between the
issues, funding and directing institutions. More than this, the environment has been integral
to issues of health and education. The fields of health education, environmental health and
environmental education corroborate intersections of the three.

Health and education were formalised into ‘ modern’ fields by colonialism. Missions typically
provided limited service for Africans while Europeans were served by the imported models
of surgeries, hospitals and schools. At present their importance as financial fulcra can be

There are apparently no disadvantages
The Floraplex Purchase Network,
highlighted in two ways, first by the international aid community and second by the
respective national governments.

Indicators are used to highlight progress and failure especially by outsiders and the
development assistance community. First they offer unit comparisons against a
standardised, rationalised and averaged dataset. Second they are used to target areas of
concern and exception to the trend, for instance by development agencies seeking to offer
a rational distribution of aid and resources. The UNDP human development indicator1
places special emphasis on education and health which are weighted with spending power
to produce an internationally comparative measure. It includes data for adult literacy, mean
years of schooling, and life expectancy which together comprise two-thirds of the weighting
for the final figure. Health and education are picked out for specific funding by donors and
‘ human development’ can be influenced by investing in the two sectors.

A current example of the solidity of this paradigm can be shown by agreed targets by the
OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and the World Bank. According to the
UK Department for International Development (DFID), ‘ Research by the World Bank has
shown that education for girls is the single most effective way of tackling poverty’ and this
in turn is pushing forward an agenda for the assertion of gender sensitive indicators into all
statistical sources.2 The stated DAC target is that ‘ progress towards gender equality and
the empowerment of women should be demonstrated by eliminating gender disparity by
2005.’ 3

Table GB
Expenditure on Health and Education 1995
Health1 Education2
Total Public Sector
% GDP % GDP % GDP % Budget
Kenya 2.6 1.6 5.8 19
Tanzania 2.5 5.1
Uganda 3.9 1.8 2.8 30.6

Health and education are also an important part of national government spending in East
Africa as shown in the table GB. Health and education take up around 25% of the Kenyan
annual budget and over 40% of Uganda's budget while Tanzania spends significantly. Both
countries have operated universal primary education policies which aim at producing mass
literacy. Uganda introduced a Universal Primary Education (UPE) system in 1997 and
funding has increased yet further both in terms of budget commitments and through direct
assistance from the US. However not all initiatives are immune from budget cuts and
Tanzania now levies charges on parents to cover staff and infrastructure while Kenya
'A contribution to [the] search…for a better, more comprehensive social measure ' Human Development
Report 1988, UNDP
DFID (2000) Strategies for achieving the international development targets: Poverty eradication and the
empowerment of women Consultation document, DFID, London. Quote from page 1
DAC (1996) Shaping the 21st Century: The contribution of development co-operation Development Assistance
Committee May 1996, OECD, Paris
1995 data from World Health Report 1999, World Heal
th Organisation, Geneva
UNESCO (1995) Report on the state of education in Africa. Education strategies for the 1990s: orientations
and achievements UNESCO, Dakar pp160-180
Figure GC
Oxfam debt, education and health expenditure comparisons for Tanzania
Source: Oxfam Debt Relief for Tanzania: An opportunity for a better future Oxfam position paper April 1998

Debt Service, Primary Health and Primary Education expenditures as a %
of GDP

Debt Service

% of GDP

2 Primary Education

Primary Health
89/90 90/91 91/92 92/93 93/94 94/95 95/96 96/97
Financial year

operates the now institutionalised gift system of Harambee to generate more local funds for
education, health and community projects.3 Figure GC shows some of the budgetary
constraints affecting health and education in Tanzania and the legacy of debt that diverts
national revenues overseas.

The education system is reflected by data showing percentages of the population

reaching educational levels in Table GD below. It reveals the tiny proportions of those
reaching university and reflects the limited number of places that have been available at
tertiary institutions. Through the 1990s, a number of private universities have been opened
or are currently being founded throughout East Africa. The sector is demand driven with a
swell in the demographic curve promising further future growth in student numbers.

Table GD
Proportion of students attaining different educational level1
Primary % Secondary % Tertiary %
Kenya 95 29 2.2
Tanzania 69 5 0.2
Uganda 80 14 1
Perhaps resembling the Japanese model of democratic capitalism rather than the 'American' model trashed by
Andrew Morton in his autobiography of President Moi. Moi's gifting ranges from the impromptu to the formal:
'Sometimes during a stopover he will call out…' Who is your leader, who is your leader?', before handing out a
gift of cash to be dispersed among the wananchi (the people) to help pay for school fees.' Morton A (1998)
Moi: The making of an African Statesman Michael O'Mara Books, London p12; ‘As Vice-President, Moi
attended literally thousands of such events all over the country. His presence ensured the success of the
harambee and in the process cemented his relationship with the local MP, provincial administrators and other
influential members of the community. In this way he quietly and unobtrusively built up his personal
constituency in the country. These years of unstinting activity on behalf of the harambee programme have led
to numerous schools and hospital wards being named after him, a fact used by his critics as an illustration of
the cult of personality that has allegedly been allowed to flourish since he became President.' (Morton 1998:93)
UNESCO 1995:165
The health sector shows three further development patterns in Figure GE. First the sector
is heavily dependent on external assistance and second, the health services of each
country are limited. Comparatively Kenya shows better figures for the numbers of doctors
and a smaller dependence on aid. Health services are more concentrated in 'expert
centres' i.e. hospitals. Correspondingly, Zimbabwe has an identical proportion of doctors
yet over seven times the proportion of nurses and midwives (164 per 100,000 versus 23).
Tanzania shows an opposite tendency where there are a significant number of nurses and
midwives yet a small number of doctors per population. This indicates a tendency towards
decentralised primary care. Uganda has a similar proportion of doctors but only 60% of
Tanzania's nurses and midwives per 100,000 people.

A part of the reason for the differences in the health care personnel ratios for the three
countries can be attributed to geography and population concentrations. Kenya's corridor
from Kisumu, through Nairobi and to the coast is densely populated while Tanzania'
population is spread more widely. Uganda provides a middle picture and has a health care
system distributed evenly over primary and doctor-based delivery. This can be linked to
more balanced population densities in a smaller country area. In comparison to western
neighbours, it displays better figures (4, 28, 21) than Burundi (6, 17, 12) and a different
spread to the Central African Republic (6, 45, 6).

Table GE
Health investment and infrastructure
Aid as percentage of Doctors per Nurses/Midwives per Number of
Health Expenditure1 100,000 pop’ n 100,000 pop’ n dentists2
Kenya 22.3 15 23 664
Tanzania 48.3 4 46 83
Uganda 48.4 4 28 21
Source: WHO, Geneva

Environmental issues are influenced by the 'Think global, act local' philosophy yet in fact,
the environment is difficult to isolate as sector as it covers the areas of natural resources,
human habitation, agriculture, tourism, climate and population. Local issues for East
African countries are the shared resource of Lake Victoria, land use and distribution,
indigenous knowledge, national parks and biodiversity. Electronic networking has put
global paradigms onto the agenda and rainforests, climate change, biodiversity and
desertification all amplify complex interactions that have their local impacts. There are
severe problems with climate change and desertification in relation to pastoral livelihoods
and biodiversity is a critical factor for tourism industries based on many endangered
species. The international volume of these issues through conferences, television, radio
are conjoined with government and non-government channels and the streams of
information and discussion reach a local audience. Environmental networking therefore
takes place in a ‘ hot’ and ‘ live’ locale with informed and experienced populations. The local
current is enabled by feedback, which can allow a width of input and from remote areas
where impacts are keenly felt.
1990 Estimates by the World Bank from HFA indicator
s 1996, WHO, Geneva
Data for 1992, Three figures from WH0 estimates of Health Personnel,
The figures shown in Table GF reflect the empirical authority of World Bank/WDI statistics
as much as the present a picture of East Africa. They are indicators, pure and simple, and
this short selection does not display local characteristics such as the Ugandan propensity
for plantain cultivation and the pastoralism of the Maasai, Kalenjin, Banyankole and
Karamojong. However they show that there is growing pressure on land and production in
East Africa although this is most concentrated in marginalised and poor areas. Climate
change is predicted to reduce both of these in the long term and I have chosen statistics
that give a ten year window on natural resource depletion and impacts. These reflect
generally negative changes – particularly in Kenya with its already low baseline – that have
occurred in the era of structural adjustment and on both sides of the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development in 1992.

Table GF
East African environmental indicators
Kenya Tanzania Uganda
Cropland per capita (ha) 0.17 0.12 0.34
% change per capita /10year -25.8 -18.4 -23.2
Cereal production
% change/10 years -25.8 35 34.5
per capita (kg) 0.08 0.14 0.09
% change/10 years -47.9 -1.6 0.25
1980-90 deforestation natural forest (ha/yr) 7 438 65
% change/10 years -5.5 -11.5 -9.2
Resources remaining
% Forests 29 60.1 21
% Grasslands 57 51 29
Source: World Resources Institute (1997) Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda at a glance: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environment The
World Bank/Agriculture and Natural Resources

Forces and relations of electronic networking
The next three sections analyse the progress of electronic networking in the context of this
poorly serviced and environmentally diverse regional situation. It takes up from the 1990
collaboration between ELCI and IDRC that led to NGONet for the non-government sector,
ESANET for education and the technical and institutional integration of the initiatives with
Satellife's HealthNet programme. Firstly, the sections introduce arguments to show how
institutional service providers with distinct development agendas met the challenges of
restructured communications potential and local information expansion. Secondly, they will
assess the sectors following the widespread introduction of local commercial Internet and
email provision and the broadening of information possibilities and communication spaces.

The sectoral lines between environment, health and education are hazy. These differences
have weighted but have certainly not determined the development of individual connectivity
patterns. Their commonalties have been first, their rising, falling then rising participation in
the founding and growth of email and Internet. Secondly they have all enjoyed types of
funding and support not readily available to other sectors, such as the retrenched civil
service, or even to business. Email services were jump-started by trainings, international
funding and the involvement of NGOs. These provided service for health and education
and not-for-profit organisations which soon found a market outside to subsidise expansion.
Eventually they became independent centres of knowledge and information distribution.

Networking and environment
The UNCED conference gave the environment sector a large boost and it was well
represented in two high profile preparatory conferences for the UNCED Youth Process and
the Nairobi Preparatory conference. Press coverage ensured the informal marketing of
emailing and ELCI's client base rose sharply with an estimated 200 users by 1992. The
pattern of communications was shaped by the predominance of ELCI who were the NGO
email service provider. Their mission statement, shown in their web homepage, was to
operate as a 'global network of non-governmental organizations and community-based groups [to]
facilitate the voice of the grassroots by fostering communication and sharing information and skills
between groups working at the grassroots level [by] developing mechanisms for greater and more
effective communication between the NGO/grassroots sector and the
governmental/intergovernmental sector [and] maintaining close contact with the United Nations
Environment Programme.'

ELCI acted as a petty communications producer:– running the email node, maintaining an
online database of 8000 NGOs and publishing hard copy information, to link the grassroots
with local and international issues. They were home to the International Women in
Environment and Development Network (WEDNET) and produced three regular
publications. Ecoforum was a bi-monthly issues based environment and development
journal in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. International Environment and
Development File was a quarterly review of global environment news and lastly ELCI
nurtured and launched EcoNews Africa.

Figure GG
A posting from EcoNews Africa
Topic 190 EcoNews Africa Vol. 4 # 13, 3rd August
Mwambui 6:18 PM Aug 3, 1995
(at p65.f1.n7321.z5.gnfido.fidonet.o) (From News system)

By Mercy Wambui

EcoNews Africa has used electronic mail since its inception in

1992. Reasons? The need to communicate faster, access
information cheaper, more efficiently and with fewer hassles
commonly experienced in popular international communication.

If it seems then that I am glorifying this technology - you are

right! For like most users of email it is this facility that has
enabled our readers, including various government departments
involved in global negotiations, to receive information on
global policy issues before meetings actually take place. This
way the actors are able to attend the meetings having consulted
with a wider group locally, before they attend the actual

EcoNews: A glocal bulletin
EcoNews Africa has proved to be an innovative example of the best work of ELCI. It
combined its organisational aims of connecting with the grass roots together with global
networking in a 'top-down and bottom-up' interface between issues and organisations as
broadcasted in figure GG. It was started at the African Centre for Technologies and by
Family Network Africa, Kenya Consumers Organisation and African Water Network in the
late 1980s, and moved from hard copy to electronic format in 1992, as a late response to
the parallel process of UNCED. In publication form it collected around half a dozen articles
from different geographical levels and produced them in electronic and hard copy format. It
was an online publication that innovated a direct news connection that diffused material
towards the global non-government community. It acted as network, information gatherer,
publisher and Non-Government Organisation.

Mercy Wambui, Co-ordinator of EcoNews until 1997, outlines the process and patterns of
distanced communication and news gathering thus:

EcoNews was not attempting to reach the grassroots at first and the initial objective
was to produce a weekly newsletter to be disseminated to NGOs based on networks.
They would redistribute information through these national networks. Email was not
widely used at that time and information was by hard copy until [in 1992] email was the
best means of remote communication and with [the potential of] feedback. NGONet ,
based in Uruguay, was the main source of newsfeeds and the information was
localised. The wider network involved GreenNet and the [Association for Progressive
Communications] APC. Technically it was the email gateway and it also provided
conferences and places for information and discussions. It provided space and
communications capacity for both UNCED and the [1994] UN World Conference on
Women. UNEP now provides a larger amount of information feeds that are received as

By 1995 EcoNews was available on the World Wide Web and hosted by a server at the
APC network member, Web in Canada. The project had extended its connections through
the APC network of ideologically charged FidoNet and Internet hosts. This synthesis of
non-government service providers, donors such as the Ford Foundation and IDRC and
African email organisations spread undiluted networking materials through their world-wide

EcoNews has achieved two spin-offs. First has been a promotion of gender-based
networking, initiated by a programme to disseminate and feedback material and opinions to
the 1994 UN World conference on Women in Beijing. With the 'dry run' of UNCED, the APC
and EcoNews were prepared for the task of distanced networking and the experience
influenced the second spin-off, a new programme of 'Women and information brokering'.
According to Wambui, Beijing was very influential, 'You are right in the middle of all this
information, in a sense you have power over information so you do some brokering work.
You decide what people will receive and what they won't receive.' The latest projects of
ELCI- and EcoNews-influenced environmental electronic networking have been, again to
address the global/local interface. This time the emphasis has been on the technologies of
email over HF radio together with local information provision by FM community radio. It has
been based on the experiences outlined in Figure GH and is supported by the Community

Interview, Mercy Wambui , Nairobi April 24th 1997

Radio Network with new funding arriving from the Trans Africa Rally. 2 Again, the
environment sector is leading the way in communications innovation based on the
electronic broadcast of grassroots issues. The telecentre model is used in this case with
the value added for local information that can be looped through email and Internet and
received locally.

USAID AfricaLink – grappling with connectivity

Figure GH
Orkonerei Pastoralists Integrated Survival Programme
In  September  1996,  EcoNews  provided  information  from  the  UN  Convention  on 
Desertification to the pastoralists. It was  very relevant as they are facing serious land 
degradation.  The  UN  documents  were  translated  into  Kimaasai  and  put  into  simple 
language  and  then  the  issues  discussed.  Anna,  the  local  information  broker,  passed 
back their views and these were then passed on through to UN channels. 

This formed a local­global link where it is not just passing the information to them but 
also  to  get  their  views.  Most  local  actors  are  illiterate  and  translation  is  important  for 
training materials, advocacy and negotiating jargon. The information loop was filled in 
by  one  more  layer  when  they  used  the  information  in  the  convention  to  lobby  the 
Government of Tanzania, as a signatory to the document. The pastoralists are aware 
of  the  role  of  communities  and  indigenous  groups  in  relation  to  land  issues  and  then 
can question their policies. It is harder for government to hear the views of those that 
are so marginalised.

EcoNews reintroduced the information into its newsletter. The issues of desertification 
and the opinions of pastoralists were fed into the environment information network.
A synthesis of the FidoNet networks with agriculture, natural resources and environment
sectors was forged with the external input of USAID’ s AfricaLink. This formal project is a
‘ network of networks’ linking policy makers and scientists in Africa with on-the-ground
support systems. It embraces international institutions such as ICRAF1 and IUCN,2 regional
organisations including the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and
Central Africa (ASARECA) and the Integrated Pest Management network (IPM) together
with national organisations such as the Ugandan National Agricultural Research
organisation (NARO) and the Kenya Forestry Institute (KFI). This multi-layered networking
project has undertaken trainings, installed hardware and helped with the proposal based
funding that drives this professionalised portion of the sector.

Over the four years 1995-1999 AfricaLink has been under the supervision of an informed
and experienced networker, Jeff Cochrane and allowed it to work with an open
technological and institutional mind-set.3 A core component was co-ordinating the
networking of East African crop forestry organisations via ICRAF in Nairobi. Funds initially
Organised by Jay Naidoo, South African Minister of Communications
Wildlife and Conservation
It has been his dynamic that has lifted at least my prejudice about the workings of the previously maligned
spent on providing Internet connection and trainings from commercial service providers
while successes have widened the project to the networks mentioned above. A newer
component has been the funding of on-the-ground support structures of which the East
Africa Help Desk will be examined below.

AfricaLink shows the beginnings of a network to interlink research within sub Saharan
Africa. With funds of around $350 000 it offers status and value for money for donors. The
users and participants are in the public research sector, they are highly qualified and they
depend on international expertise and funds. This outward looking sector is ripe for
accelerated information exchange and exposure to a width of research hitherto restricted
by connection.

Their experience helps describe the detail of both training and use of these new tools. This
installation goes beyond the set-up of computer and modem and includes configuration of
personnel, learnt procedures and system intuition. The operator is taking on board a series
of procedures between author, self , software, machine, modem and network. The human
element has been a weakness in the systems and the process of training and continuous
development (or permanent revolution as it sometimes feels like with computers) has
brought out the detail of problems with technology. Computers ‘ break’ , something is wrong
and help is far away. Shem Ochuodho of the African Regional Computer Centre (ARCC)
first outlines the trainers’ perspective and then Jeff Cochrane reports from the user

‘ There are two common circumstances and often the first hurdle is that the person
using and responsible for Email has not followed the correct steps to send and receive
messages. Instructions are jumbled and they do not wish to accept responsibility or ask
for help and so the Email is broken. Sometimes we get a telephone call, sometimes
not. I think the problem is that the right person has not been chosen for the
responsibility and they are often secretaries. When there is someone who is
enthusiastic, things work well.

The other situation we see is where a single person is responsible for the Internet and
Email and they leave. Often they get another job because they know Internet. The first
we hear again is that the Email is broken but really there is no-one there who can
operate it. I think that has changed our way of seeing training and support. People have
to be trained as trainers, things cannot happen ‘ just like that’ and there should be more
backup than a [commercial] ISP can offer’ 4

From the other side, Jeff Cochrane’ s September 1997 AfricaLink report lists experiences
that illustrate these problems in context. For example:

‘ Dr. Nandwa is the African Highlands Initiative (AHI) national co-ordinator. His is the
first Email account to be installed at the NARL, which has the most scientists (90) of
any KARI centre, and which hosts six distinct projects. Of the 25 AHI scientists on Dr.
Nandwa's team, three make use of Email. Dr. Nandwa himself is the principal user.
Two secretaries operate the system, having been trained for two weeks by their service
provider, ARCC.

Email is the sole use of the system to date, though Web browsing is installed and
feasible. Dr. Nandwa and staff were unaware of the existence or function of Netscape
on their system. A connection was established after three attempts – a busy exchange
signal was heard on the first two, suggesting a problem with KPTC, not with ARCC. Dr.
Interview with Dr. Shem Ochuodho, MP ARCC, Chairman Computer Society of Kenya
Nandwa's computer operator, Prista Kkonge, observed that this was typical during the
hours from 9am to 3pm. Upon establishing a PPP link with Trumpet Winsock, Ms.
Kkonge was shown how to start Netscape, and several minutes of curious surfing then

Jeff Cochrane’ s personal assessment is that systematic use and personal involvement over
time have proved to be the keys in successful installations. Experience beyond this training
dilemma and overcoming ‘ an almost universal lack of comfort with the technology’ 5 has led
to many positive developments. The network has not reached its full potential because of
patches of success and failure yet overall, correspondence and research has been
extended. There are concrete examples of negotiating distance where, ‘ Email permits
international contacts. This is virtually impossible otherwise due to costs for fax, phone,
and courier. The [Email] system is used primarily for communications with European
partners, though also with the USA and elsewhere in Africa. Most communications are
either scientific exchanges or logistical arrangements for visits, conferences, and
meetings.’ (Dr D Nyamai, Kenya Forestry Institute). Some reshaping of local
interconnection patterns have occurred and the NDFRC saw that ‘ Documents to their
project co-ordinator in Nairobi are now routinely transferred via Email, whereas in the past
it was generally necessary to drive an hour for hand delivery in Nairobi’ . While in KARI,
‘ Email has virtually eliminated regular mail and courier to connected domestic
correspondents..’ and brought closer contact when ‘ Dr. Nandwa recently worked with Ann
Stroud, who is in Uganda, on a last-minute proposal for funding. This type of collaboration
would not have been possible without Email.‘ (Dr Nandwa, KARI again).

The helpdesk and UgandaOnline

The development side of the AfricaLink project has focussed on fixing the links between
researchers and practitioners, concentrating on this ‘ middle level’ . It approaches the
writings of Bernard Woods in 19931 but takes the situation on the ground as a starting point
rather than technology. From these components the East African Help Desk was created.
The Help Desk is USAID funded but in fact acts as a centre for training, service provision
and information extension. Run by Charles Musisi, the Internet ‘ pioneer’ from MUKLA it
provides its contracted services but offers more on top. Again, the personal angle and the
ties, history and connections that come with it save effort against co-ordinating a new
organisation and allow short-cuts that would not seem possible in a totally formal situation.

Musisi has offered informal training to students outside of the University since MUKLA was
disestablished. A list of the ‘ graduates’ is impressive:

@ Technician for Wilken AfSat

@ System operator at SwiftUganda
@ System operator for World Food Programme
@ Technician for StarCom
@ Co-ordinator Acacia telecentres programme
@ System operator African Virtual University
@ System operator HealthNet

Cochrane JA AfricaLink East Africa – Assessment Synthesis August/September 1997, USAID publication
Woods B (1993) Communication, Technology and the Development of People Routledge, London
AfricaLink has shown how there can be chain reactions of problems in a developing
country situation of supporting systems on a shoestring and with logistical anarchy. By
force of personality and contacts, local fixes have been organised. For instance
connectivity was needed for the Acacia telecentres for which mobile phones were arranged
through a negotiated deal. The help desk also undertakes petty communications production
with small scale Internet service provision through Uganda Online and webmastering
services undertaken by ‘ trainees’ . In a small information economy such as Uganda with
100-150 people working in electronic communications, the HelpDesk and Uganda Online
have contributed significantly and delivered more in an informal mode than Makerere
University has formally. It is a Ugandan means with artisans using locally derived
experience and adapted technology.

Health online and telemedicine

HealthNet's trajectory has been to provide connectivity to the medical community. However
the word 'connectivity' masks two important strains of electronic data – health information
and telemedicine. The first describes the dissemination of knowledge resources and these
range from training materials to medical journals to disease information, in order of
timeliness. Telemedicine denotes more instant practice of medicine where the 'tele-' prefix
implies distance and telecommunications. Ultimately they are parts of the same spectrum
of transmitted health data and can be categorised by components of space and time – their
distanciation and instantiation. Examples of a first, networked warning of an Ebola outbreak
and second, the SHARE example of the transmission of electroencephalogram and
electrocardiogram information both show a complex interplay of factors. The first is an
example of point to network to point communications where time and established
connections amongst institutions are critical to the timely mobilisation of quarantine and
treatment procedures. The second shows point to point communications where the data
network is critical for linking distant knowledge resources to local practice instantly. Both
are means of speeding information and depend on the ‘ glue’ of ‘ networking’ emerging from
the interaction of technology, communications and involved users.

The rapporteur's group on telemedicine in developing countries in 1997, decided that,

'there is no globally accepted definition of telemedicine'. However there are a breadth of
interpretations from other sources that confirm a width of interpretation. Read defines
telemedicine as ‘ the use of advanced telecommunications technologies to exchange health
information and provide health care services across geographic, time, social, and cultural
barriers.’ 2 The American Telemedicine Association states that, 'Telemedicine is the use of
medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications for
the health and education of the patient or healthcare provider and for the purpose of
improving patient care.'3 In Europe, the standing committee of European Doctors says that,
'The term telemedicine refers to the practice of medicine over a distance. In telemedicine,
interventions, diagnostic and treatment decisions and recommendations are based on
data, documents and other information transmitted through telecommunication systems'4

Reid, J (1996) A Telemedicine Primer: Understanding the Issues. Innovative Medical Communications
Topeka, USA

Linkous JD (1999) Toward A Rapidly Evolving Definition of Telemedicine A

merican Telemedicine Association
These cautious definitions cover all angles yet it is difficult to see how telesurgery and
teleradiology – live telemedicine – can inhabit the same development space as disease
early warning systems and the delivery of medical journals. Again the issues and
relationships of the point and the network are uncalibrated but examples from East Africa
show the pre-eminence of the network – in other words a predisposition to delayed health
information rather than interactivity of the point. There are two, presently unfulfilled,
attempts at normalising live telemedicine in the region. The first is the promise of such
services for Nakaseke Hospital, part of the ITU, British Council and UNESCO Nakaseke
Telecentre Project. This has been delayed because of problems with telephone lines to the
hospital, crucial when medical procedures rely on the integrity of continuous
telecommunications links. The second is the WorldStar project operating commercial
initiatives over a GEO satellite owned by Noah Samara (an East African expatriate).
According to John Mack, a publicist for the initiative,

Date Sun, 20 Jun 1999 160743 -0400

From John Mack <>
To African Development Forum 1999
Subject: Re Protocol

WorldSpace is ALREADY up and running with crystal clear FM stereo quality,

digital signals to every inch of Africa (and London too) from the AfriStar
satellite located above the DRC since last October. The WorldSpace
foundation is already working with content providers to construct the
Africa Learning Channel to bring sound and pictures (or whatever) via this
medium to rural and non-rural Africa with a bit error rate that will
accommodate X-rays.

While its benefits are contested by Hans-Dieter Winkens, executive editor of Channel

Date Mon, 21 Jun 1999 204721 +0200

From Hans-Dieter Winkens
To African Development Forum 1999
Subject: Re Protocol

The Future was indeed here, yesterday already, and new highways for
delivery are being paved daily. But to state that WorldSpace and Digital
AM/SW are here and ready to deliver is like having an eight-lane tarmac
strip all over the world, but you can't afford the toll, the fuel, the
car, the engine, nor the wheels!

The deployment of higher technology infrastructure is not unopposed and slower network
changes for distant medical information and practice have been implemented by MAF and

Missionary infrastructure
Another NGO, the Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) displays a further tendency in
distance medicine. Since 1946, the organisation has deployed flying doctors in Africa and
is active in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. By the beginning of the 1990s, they started to
deploy an independent electronic mail network. Simon James-Morse, the regional co-

Ethical guidelines in telemedicine, Adopted by the Standing Committee of European Doctor

ordinator explained these changes in an interview. 'We have built up electronic mail as
support for our other operations. The flights were first and [short wave] radio was our main
way of co-ordinating people and schedules...Electronic mail has become a vital tool
because it delivers messages that can be read later while radio means two people have to
establish contact and relay the information...' Conversations can become impossible in
difficult circumstances such as when batteries fail, when there is static interference and
messages break up. '...When radio is not working, email usually is and vice versa...It is part
of a communications tool-kit, and that now includes email over radio...It has grown into a
network...we offer free email services for our users and allow others on a case-by-case

Figure GI
Clipping from MAF website,

31 Countries Served
2,600+ MAFnet® Members
69 MAFnet® Hubs (electronic post offices)
605,600+ MAFnet® Messages (bundles per month)
3,275,370+ MAFxc® Messages Per Month
1,680+ MAFxc®Conference Groups

The MAF network, statistics of which are shown in Figure GI, was most valued as a
parallel, if proprietary, network for medical and humanitarian traffic while general
connectivity was poor. Ben Parker of the United Nations Department for Humanitarian
Affairs (UNDHA) described it in 1996 as 'a key component in the Tanzanian networking
infrastructure'. However it stands as a conduit and carrier of information rather than
HealthNet, which provides a large volume of content over and above physical connections.

HealthNet itself has expanded to offer three local email centres2 in Tanzania – at Muhimbili
Hospital in Dar es Salaam; Health Research and Development Centre, Ifakara and the
National Institute for Medical Research, Mwanza as well as the University of Nairobi
Medical School and the Makerere University Medical School, Kampala. Apart from this
spatial spread of the network there has also been diffusion in medical information and
health information.

Health information, HealthNet and the direction of publishing

HealthNet addressed health information in parallel with its initiatives to install information
infrastructure. Its own assessment of the situation of information poverty and falling access
to current information has been articulated by Lown, Bukachi and Xavier:

Information poverty is a substantial impediment to better health in countries. Medical

libraries are supplied with a few worn books and dated journals. Whereas a medical
library in the USA subscribes to about 3000 journals, the Nairobi Medical School
Library, Kenya (long regarded as a flagship centre for medical literature in East Africa)
receives only 20 journal titles today compared with 300 to which it subscribed 10 years
ago. In the 1960s, the Albert Cook Medical Library at Makerere, Kampala, Uganda,
s (CP) on the 12th of April 1997
Footnote: Interview September 19, Kampala
Ifakara and Mwanz
boasted over 2500 medical volumes and journal subscriptions; one of the largest
libraries in East Africa, today it receives fewer than 40 medical journals3

The success of HealthNet has been mirrored by declining government funding but this link
is unproven and falling funding commenced before the advent of the network. HealthNet
has both identified and addressed the issue in three directions; access to resources, news
bulletins and newsgroup conferences. For the first, the media of CD-ROMs, email database
requests and web-by-email have enabled local or low-bandwidth access to stored records
and references. Without a live connection, but with some patience, network users can
search, request and download from a number of affiliated medical information publishers
and providers. In theory the whole range of resources available in industrialised countries
are available but in practice there is a time-lag and the bureaucratic procedures of
payments, reduced-rates and institutional accounts are a disincentive to liberal use.
Another issue is that the advertising that contributes to the funding of publications is not
readily convertible to downloading format. For instance, images and signs of
pharmaceutical companies cannot be marked-up for electronic mail nor might the
advertisers be attracted to a continent with a small market turnover.

Online publications provided over email have been negotiated by HealthNet. In the
instance of HealthNet News, its contents often contain copyrighted material from, for
instance, the British Medical Journal. As a safeguard it can only de distributed to
developing countries but this allows health information delivery outside of the market.
HealthNet news is produced each week and delivered over electronic mail, similarly WHO
Library Digest for Africa is produced and delivered fortnightly, AIDS Action is quarterly and
Community-Based Rehabilitation News and Health Action is delivered three times a year.

The final format of health information is the mailing-list. There are seven of these that are
currently being run, ProMED-mail: Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases, ProCAARE:
Program for Collaboration Against AIDS and Related Epidemics, ProCOR: Program for
Improving International Cardiovascular Health, E-Drug: Essential Drugs (in English), E-
MED: Essential Drugs (in French), INDICES: International Network on Drug Information
and AFRO-NETS: African Networks for Health Research and Development.

The mailing list acts a noticeboard where issues can be posted and replied to. Some, such
as ProMed, are for alerts and so postings are irregular and time-critical. Others act as
international and perhaps global centres for discussion and although lacking the possibility
of live interaction offer a different rhythm of interconnection. The Harvard AIDS Institute
manage the ProCAARE conference and Richard Marlink, its executive director has said
that with ’ … a minimum amount of organization and funding, an actual international
conference could be taking place daily that would supplement the international AIDS
conference held every two years… We could set rules like a conference and have tracks
like basic science, clinical, and epidemiological.’ 4

a generally connect by satellite
Lown B, Bukachi F, Xavier R (1988) ‘Health Information in the developing world’ Lancet Vol.
352, Supplement 2, October 1998
Mitka M (1999) ‘Developing countries find telemedicine forges links to more care and research’ Journal of the
American Medical Association. Vol.280 pp1295-1296
Issues can be floated that can challenge or open debate over a wide distance and
experienced users can build the means of communication into ways of working. Bernard
Lown used the launch of the ProCOR heart conference to address the spreading and now
global epidemeology of heart attacks:

In 1990, two-thirds of the 12 million cardiovascular fatalities worldwide occurred in

developing countries. This profound epidemiological transition relates to a host of
factors including rapid urbanisation, inadequate shelter and crowding, loss of
community structures, excessive smoking, poor diets with increased consumption of
junk food, joblessness and other social stresses5

Modern technologies and procedures had propagated information on the interface of

modern lifestyles and livelihood strategies.

Analysis of the Afro-Nets newsgroup

The busiest newsgroup mediated by HealthNet has been the Afro-Nets newsgroup. Using
the Perl scripting language it has been possible to deconstruct and reassemble data from
the postings to produce a scripted analysis. The geographies of participants and the
semantics of their subject line message headings have been cleaned, collected, sorted and
analysed into tables shown in Appendices four and five. The analysis is in four parts: the
background and history of the newsgroup; the statistical measurements of addresses;
subject line components; and a discussion case study.

The 'African Networks for Health Research & Development' (Afro-Nets) newsgroup was set
up following the HealthNet-led 'network of networks' meeting in January 1996 in Zimbabwe
and the 3rd African Essential National Health Research (ENHR) Network Conference in
Uganda. Its stated purpose is for 'the exchange of information between the different
networks active in Health Research for Development in the Eastern and Southern African
Region' and with further aims of 'capacity building, planning and conducting research,
transformation of research recommendations into action' by health networks.1

Afro-nets is a busy newsgroup with over 1300 postings in a 27 month period averaging
more than 15 messages a day. The largest number of postings are addressed from the
United States yet this is ambiguous data. Of these, around a third are ISP addresses
(HotMail, Microsoft/MSN, CompuServe and AOL) a quarter are the addresses of
international organisations' headquarters (International Development Network – USAID,
Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) and PATH). However the data still point to the
majority of messages originating in the United States and it remains the largest contributing
country. Other anomalies between international and local addressing have, by and large,
been corrected by aliasing geographical country name data giving an accuracy in excess of
95%. A further observation is that Zimbabwe is well represented in the data because the
newsgroups moderator, Dieter Neuvians, is based in Harare.
The core data show that the conference is strongly African in terms of its contributors. They
are overwhelmingly from eastern and southern Africa which is in accordance with its aims.
Conspicuously absent countries include Somalia, Djibouti, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of
Lown B (1997) Commentary: Health technology, the developing world and Satellife Posting in ProCOR mailing
list, 14th Feb 1997,, Cambridge, USA

From the AfroNets homepage,

Congo (DRC) and Sudan. Their absence can be explained by three persistent
determinants in electronic networking: technology, contacts and language.

Somalia, DRC and Sudan are all poorly served by telecommunications infrastructure. The
first two are seeing a growing use of mobile phones for reliable communications2 while
Sudan has only a single public sector FidoNet connection from the University of Gezira.
Lesotho and Djibouti are in the umbra of their parent states – South Africa and France. All
these countries display characteristics whereby organisational forces of electronic
networking are less widely utilised, thus affecting personal and virtual contacts. In terms of
language, only 1 in 24 messages are from countries where English is not a principal
language. Of these 50% are from Francophone countries, 31% from Lusophone countries
and 29% from Ethiopia3. With English as the lingua franca of the newsgroup, there are
implications that trends in the use of English for technical tasks has not permeated
potential users of this health-based newsgroup.

The group does show a good example of globalised networking with over 400
organisations from 66 countries mailing to the list. The mix extends over a wide range of
medical institutions with a large bias towards research and no noticeable participation from
clinics and primary care. Pharmaceutical companies are also included along with
universities, hospitals, international agencies, trusts and both regional and international
NGOs. There are two key explanations for the strength of these deep global trends,
connectivity and shared health problems and priorities.

The technical components of computer, telephone and power are nearly always
guaranteed in such centres of medical knowledge and practice. National priorities in Kenya,
Tanzania and Uganda aim to ensure that 'load shedding' and delayed phone maintenance
do not impact on the few premier healthcare facilities available.

Figure GJ
Cases and rates of infection for selected diseases
Tuberculosis Malaria HIV Tuberculosis: Data for 1992, Three figures from World Health
Kenya 38919 6100000 11.64 Organisation (WHO) estimates of Health Personnel,; Malaria: Est. number of cases. Kenya and
Tanzania 57594 8000000 9.42 Tanzania 1994, Weekly Epidemiological Record 1997, No.72,
pp269-276, World Health Organisation, Geneva. Uganda 1991-93
Uganda 60798 2708118 9.51 Health For All Indicators 1996, World Health Organisation, Geneva;
HIV: Adult rate of Infection end of 1997, UNAIDS Epidemiological
Fact Sheet, WHO

Globalised medical networking depends on a global focus. The statistics in Figure GJ

showed the prevalence of disease in East Africa and these are also key issues for the
participants in Afro-Nets discussions. The analysis of subject line data from email postings
clearly indicates the centrality of tackling infection issues. First, malaria is mentioned
directly in 6% of postings and indirectly though bed-nets, prophylaxis, mosquito and
vaccine in a further 3%, to a total of 1182 mentions. HIV is mentioned, in semantic

See for example The Independent (1999) ‘Mobiles replace guns amid the ruins: City life in Mogadishu’ The
Independent, 17th May 1999, According to ITU indicators, the Democratic Republic of Congo has the smallest
number of outgoing international telephone calls per subscriber in the whole of Africa. Furthermore numbers of
fixed line subscribers have been stationary between 1993 and 1997 while mobile phones have risen to 25% of
all lines since their introduction in 1996. ITU African Telecommunications Indicators 1998:64)

Where English is important as a language of instruction and expertise yet Amharic and Italian also represent
local and i
variation, 1280 times while tuberculosis occurs on 259 occasions. The word global appears
149 times.

The findings point to focused newsgroup networking strongly geared to problem solving.
From observation, after a topic is raised the point is clarified and then answered and
critiqued by eminent and qualified correspondents. Answers and relevant information are
unearthed and aired in the most edifying and productive forum I have experienced.

Education: literacy and campus connections

In East Africa, the three forces of information technology connections over local and wide
area networks, privatisation/paying students and distance learning are shaping the
interfaces between students, knowledge resources and teaching. These issues are
concentrated at the level of higher education and this has been most pronounced in the top
universities. Changes are being met, dealt with, and discussed by increasingly
technologically informed actors in more distanced relationships. The trend is towards
shared western techniques and consequently in the medium of English. In higher
education, a monetary surplus from operations has become acceptable at the expense of
planned universality yet literacy and basic education remain national priorities.

This section addresses the issue of literacy and then presents cases of change from within
the East African education system. First it takes the development of electronic mail and
Internet at Makerere university as an integrated example of how technologies have been
integrated into higher education. The university displays continuous change rather than the
stop-start of campuses in Kenya and Tanzania allowing a detailed log of successes,
conflicts and decision patterns. Next the issue of distance education is addressed in terms
of local initiatives and then the arrival of the World Bank's African Virtual University in 1997.

Discussion: education, literacy and Internet

Educational work with Internet connections has been concentrated in higher education, a
less dilute sector and with a tiny proportion of the population. This strategy places
computer and 'web' literacy at the centre of a new educational direction prompted by the
World Bank, African Virtual University project (AVU). However the underlying force of
education in the region is towards mass literacy and this is mainly implemented at the
primary school level. Some of the budgetary constraints have been noted above and the
effect has been for charges to be levied on parents. Poorer and less educated families tend
to have more children and so they are most impacted. Girls' education will be sacrificed first
despite its impact on the family size and wellbeing of future generations with the effect of
reproducing a cycle of poverty.

Literacy has been rationalised by the African state as both egalitarian measure and a
component of economic and social modernisation. Mass literacy is an overtly populist
measure offering components of classlessness, the amplification of traditional values
through modern means and nation-building. However it offers fundamental knowledge
rights within a national norm. The principal conclusions of a workshop, Combating illiteracy
in Africa, objectives and strategies of literacy programmes, organised by UNESCO in 1994
show some of the underlying theories and motivations for literacy programmes:
'The cultural role of literacy is that of....bringing into the fold those who the school has
not been able to receive as well as those who have abandoned school too early to
become literate. More generally, literacy must make provision for the rewriting of history
so as to encourage the re-establishment of the African cultural heritage, for the benefit
not only of the Africans themselves but indeed for the entire world civilisation.

As regards the economic objectives, professional skills will be improved by functional

literacy activities…t he rural exodus will slow down because literacy would have
contributed to the establishment of integrated activities for the rural populations in their
own households. Literacy is considered a strong factor in the promotion and
consolidation of democracy. It is a [lever] which transforms the perception of the
peoples and their work, which enables the people to see themselves as agents as well
as the targets, and with a right to freedom of speech and expression...Literacy can also
be a tool for national integration.'4

This baseline literacy addresses fundamental personal, community and national issues. If
addressed to marginalised groups such as women and girls then it has important
implications for their status and advancement in society5. However the divide between
mass and elite education is enormous. Universities and higher education are part of a
'trickle-down effect' for knowledge and training and it is these institutions that have élite,
and therefore international, connections. Scarce information technology resources are
concentrated firstly where there are programmes for computer literacy, secondly where
there is reliable infrastructure and last where there are qualified instructors. These all point
to cities and higher education facilities as the centres of electronic learning.

MUKLA and campus connectivity

Makerere's electronic networking shifted away from the first model of FidoNet, where
individual institutions would own, control and manage email systems on-site. The second
model has seen dissipated control and individualised, department by department and site
by site connectivity. The breakpoint was the proposition for a campus-wide fibre-optic data
network by the German development agency, GTZ in 1995. Musisi proposed a 'thin' 9.6k
radio connection to the StarCom Internet Service Provider which would guarantee reliable
mail while the Vice-Chancellor was sceptical of single operator deals, the growing
profitability and independence of the MUKLA system and the hidden costs of the fibre
network. The system was disestablished from the university and departmental connections
made. The GTZ proposal entailed the laying of cables on campus and the expense of cable
laying would fall on the university.

nternational idioms respectively
UNESCO (1995) Report on the state of Education in Africa. Education strategies for the 1990s: Orientations
and achievements UNESCO, Dakar
Technology has since resolved the problem of cable laying with the new possibility of a
wireless campus network and few local costs. The university has also prospered from large
numbers of fee paying students contributing to a substantial increase in project funds.
However Musisi’ s local-area network model could now became a reality but would now
require wholesale reorganisation of resources and departmental connectivity. The early
chance of an integrated campus network was broken by the interplay of technology timing,
suspicion of public/private relationships and the mismatch of funding priorities between
departments, aid agencies, administration and the email system. Its effects cannot be
measured yet the relationships and steady progress of the years 1992 to 1996 were
dissipated in the following years. A review of electronic mail addresses from 1997 in Figure
GK reveals the disunity of Makerere's electronic communications

From this time all connectivity and Internet initiatives have originated from outside
Makerere. This pattern has been the same for Kenyan universities and there has only been
slow progress at the University of Dar es Salaam. However they were the first university in
the region to establish their own Internet link. From the start-up this ran through the South
African UniNet system and allowed the Computer Centre to become the local issuer of

Figure GK
Spread of email addresses, Makerere University
Vice Chancellor
East African School
of Librarianship
Makerere Main Library
Academic Registrar
Institute of Social Research

national Internet addresses. This financial boon will end with the establishment of an
African Network Information Centre (NIC) shortly and probably in South Africa.

The main issues for universities have shifted away from pure infrastructure issues since the
arrival of commercial Internet and have moved to a new form of practice in control, content
and carriage of learning materials. The most prominent initiative has been the African
Virtual University.

Distance learning to the present day

The possibility of using Internet for distance learning was raises many issues. Open
Universities sought to reach a marginalised population and in Africa this has overtly spatial
implications. Rurality and poor communications are closely bound up with marginality while
Africa itself has been seen as a periphery. Non-vocational qualification, continued learning
and unit-based degrees were put forward as appropriate solutions to Third World education
difficulties as early as 1972 in the UNESCO publication 'Learning to Be' – the Faure report.
Before this even, the Correspondence Course Centre at the former Nairobi University
College had been operating since 1967 and its successor, the Department of Distance
Studies has achieved much success. Teacher training were its core activities and together
with the educational enthusiasm of then Vice-President Moi and the literacy drives of the
1960s it established effective teaching mechanisms. These included radio and eventually

television programming for courses which have been adopted and tailored by the Ugandan
system. By 1992 20,000 primary teachers had been trained in conjunction with the Ministry
of Education6. In Kampala, the Department of Distance Education, the College of Education
and External Studies and Centre for Continuing Education follow similar trajectories. In
1993, the Open University of Tanzania was founded to offer unit-based courses and, 'even
with its low level of technological development, Tanzania has been able to provide a range
of facilities to the University. The range covers face to face sessions, use of the postal
system to handle printed study materials, the telephone, radio, television (although in a
very limited way in a restricted geographical coverage), CD-ROMs, the fax, the computer,
audio and video cassettes.'7 Student admissions have risen:- 1994 – 766; 1995 – 738;
1996 – 1221; 1997 – 961 and there are presently 12 equipped regional centres and 36
study centres.8

Internet offers further opportunities and inequalities towards achieving their aims.
Opportunities stem from the ease with which materials can be delivered and the degree of
interaction that these connections will allow. Inequalities are the same information divisions
that exist nationwide – poor infrastructure, costly information technology and a lack of
training personnel and institutions. Government expenditures have not funded local
distance education to match technological challenges. Universities have no in-house
resources or experience to deploy learning networks based on computerised
communications. The opportunity for regional action has been stalled and the African
Virtual University project has taken up some of the challenge. It is not offering teacher
training in its curriculum and these remain in the hands of the state education system. It is
creaming off foundation course and modular technology degree students. Connections
remain with the local distance education system but AVU has taken over the premises of
the Makerere facility and has given two email and Internet terminals to the Open University
of Tanzania.

AVU – African Virtual University

The group of emails below shows a variety of reactions to the AVU from the Afro-Nets
discussion group: 8 out of 19 postings over 6 days are shown. The issues they raise, in
chronological order of posting, are:- access to information through libraries and knowledge
centres; imperialism and the educational market; salaries and the 'brain drain'; academic
terms of trade; and technological progress. These all reflect on the locale of education and
the possible spaces that the African Virtual University could create.

From: Justin Chisenga <>
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 04:49:58 -0500

Indeed, a African university needs to be brought into Cyberspace.

However, one university department which should not be left out in

Kinyanjui (1992)
Mmari G (1997) Putting knowledge to use: A case study of the Open University of Tanzania Paper
presented at Global Knowledge 1997
Chale E (1997) The role of open universities and distance education in increasing access and equity in higher
education using the experience of the Open University Of Tanzania Paper for a UNESCO Consultation
Meeting, Nairobi, February 12-14, 1997
In fact, if there is any department in the University that has suffered
worse budget cuts, is the Library. Most libraries in Africa are still
using manual systems and have no access to the Internet. Some hold unique
collections, which if made available on the Internet, will be accessible
to the whole world. How many times have we heard of researchers and
sometimes students from Africa studying in Europe or USA sending letters
and faxes back home requesting for information materials from university
libraries in Africa? If the collections of these libraries are made
accessible, and better still available, on the Internet, library and
information professionals in Africa, will indeed be contributing to the
development of the information content of the Information Superhighway.
From: Menghestab Haile <>
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 04:49:39 -0500
I am afraid that when Western Universities are facing huge budget cuts
this is probably a means of increasing their incomes in the name of
African Universities.
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 09:01:11 -0500
In fact I just returned back from the UK to work in Ethiopia after
studying and working in the UK for the last 7 years. You know what, I
could not work at the University because the salary offered is not enough.
I know a lot of my Western friends working for NGOs here in Ethiopia are
earning 30 times my salary.
Don't ask about the UNDP and Worldbank staff. They will be earning 40
times my salary. Guess a university prof. here gets around US 4000 a year.
With that money just imagine how many lecturers you could have. There are
many highly educated Africans who would like to return back to serve their
countries. If the Worldbank is really wanting to help African universities
then the first step would be to encourage and support the Africans to
return back.
From: Nemo Semret <nemo@CTR.COLUMBIA.EDU>
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 16:21:32 -0500
Bureaucrats may still be inclined to fund white elephants, but judging
from the postings there are enough people who are highly clued.
I wonder, is there really a shortage in Africa of people who can teach
first year calculus? I doubt it very much. Most countries probably already
have graduates who get A+ in calculus and then go on to be traders or sit
around because there are no scientific/ technical jobs. Yet some aid
projects seem to be designed with the assumption that Africa suffers from
a shortage of neurons, rather than hardware.
A good measure of the project would be the ratio "new bandwidth going
out"/"new bandwidth coming in". By this measure, the benefit from the $1.2
million investment [From the World Bank, another $4.5 million has since
been pledged by agencies, governments and the EU] is dangerously close to
From: Ralph Andreano <>
Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 12:30:07 -0500
Colleagues: I am amazed at the degree of suspicion that exists. The
technological revolution is bypassing Africa: here are efforts to latch
onto the changes: take a hold , don't grip, use the technology for your
own ends and stop being so suspicious of others.
From: Dr Eberhard W Lisse <el@LISSE.NA>
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 1997 21:30:49 -05:00

Besides the fact that the infrastructure is just not there yet, though
initiatives are underway to build it (and I have had the immense pleasure
of being allowed to play a very insignificant role in one of those,
recently), such a top-down project is going to make things worse.
It will create dependency and complacency and of course will never be
From: "Karin A. Dumbaugh" <>
Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 12:00:11 -0400
Now Africa is an important "market" for UK and US University degree
programs and continuing education courses. Would the Internet allow more
Africans take these courses from their home base? How would that
simplified access and lower cost to a degree from the London School of
Hygiene, for example, affect the developing African degree programs and
continuing education courses? Would professionals in the UK and the US be
a potential market for African University programs?

The strongest arguments for the Virtual University can be made in raw economic terms.
The rationale of the projects are the establishment of a centralised distributive education
network based on the distanciation of teaching and resources. An evaluation of this bare
categorisation shows that the teaching elements stand up best to scrutiny with stated aims
of being 'the first attempt to use, on a grand scale, the power of information technologies to
deal with the challenge of bringing to the market a large number of well-trained African
scientists, technicians, engineers, business managers and employees'9 The knowledge
resources for the University however present some technical difficulties including their
location, their presumed storage and transfer in digital form and finally the mechanisms of
distribution to individuals.

The crux of the knowledge resources component is the issue of libraries and identified by
the first response to the initial AVU pilot project posting in Afro-Nets by Justin Chisenga
and shown above. He states the potentials of libraries and they can generating outputs,
status, traffic and possible revenues. They are the poorest and most impacted sectors of
the university but at the heart of a learning hub. The AVU has not placed them centrally
despite their position as providers of ‘ pure data’ .

The AVU grandly outlines its aims precisely and states that, '... the short-term objective of
the library component of the AVU is to provide access to online journals and archived
materials, medium- and long-term goals of the library component are to act as a catalyst
for the automation of African universities' libraries; to preserve African rare collections
through scanning and digitization, thus making them available online to students, the
academic community, and the wider public; and finally, promoting online publishing of
scholarly work by the African scientific community.'10 This avoids mention of the technical
difficulties of maintaining remote resources, issues of payment and copyright for academic
materials and the implicit decision to delay the library components of AVU in favour of
teaching. In the first case searching, access, retrieval and feedback for online library
resources will have to be negotiated over expensive real-time satellite connections. Next,
World Bank (1997a) African Virtual University Concept Paper: presented to WB Africa Region and the Finance
and Private Sector Vice Presidency of the World Bank, World Bank, Washington

World Bank (1997b) Rationale for AVU pilot phas

either a flat-rate or per-item levy will have to be fed through to students and institutions to
pay for substantial materials from journals, texts and databases. These two barriers may
account for the delay of the library component which achieved the short-term goal of going
live, at the beginning of the first term of actual operation. An unanswered letter posted by
Stephen Adibo on the AVU email forum shows some of the frustrations felt by users.

Message: Adibo Stephen ( [Improve AVU Library]
6/12/99 3:37:20 AM

Thank you so much for improving the AVU webmail. Let me hope that you will
also improve on other data bases like UMI, AVU Library search and world
bank Site. I work in Avu digital Library some times researchers get
frustrated especially when trying to acess certain journals on line in
this particular site. Some times it gives no records at all.

Please can you advice me more along this line.

Bye for now.

Adibo Stephen

The short-term success of the AVU can be measured by large demands for its courses. In
Kenyatta University, Nairobi it has been reported that it earned Ksh 10 million in fees for its
first year of courses. The Financial Times11 reported that these are based on charges to
individual students of Ksh 3000 per module and Ksh 30,000 per pre-university course and
would equate to sales of 3000 modules or over 330 courses. The project itself is heading
towards the model of an international private distance learning company and according to
Shola Aboderin, 'The current thinking is to establish AVU as a foundation with a business
arm called AVU Inc.' The reflections of Menghestab Haile in the Afro-Nets conference
might then be justified. The objectives of the pilot programme are clearly to carve out a
regional market share in education for western universities, telecommunications companies
and local 'investors' by using information technology, economies of scale and virtual
connections. The World Bank clearly states its aims of expansion thus: '(I) provide the
various educational market segments in Africa with sufficient exposure to AVU programs
and make the African public fully appreciative of the potential of AVU in expanding access
to education at the tertiary level and in the area of continuing education; and, (ii)
demonstrate the business potential AVU represents to content, technology and service
providers'12. This is not classical imperialism yet defines the African agents as 'compradors'
who gain from trade rather than adding value locally.

The effects of the virtual university in stemming 'brain drain' or the movement of Africans to
other countries or sectors to seek better training, more recognition or better financial
rewards are yet to be proven. AVU notes that in sub-Saharan Africa there, '...has been a
steady loss of university staff, often the most talented, to non-university employment (either
government or private sector), to the brain drain and to retirement.'13 Its potential is good as
it offers internationally accredited qualifications locally and at a good price in fact,'...they

e Jan'97, World Bank, Washington
Turner M (1999) AVU: Virtual learning spurs universities Financial Times, Feb 17 1999
World Bank (1998) Report on the AVU Pilot Phase Operation July 1, 1997 to June 30, 199
8 World Bank, Washington
are cheaper than similar courses offered by the US International University'14. However,
educational materials and experience are imported through distance learning and many
African students study overseas by choice or as a condition of sponsorship. These trends,
together with 'brain drain', are symptoms of poor academic terms of trade where there is an
imbalance in the exchange values of the local products to the imported products. For
instance, primary African data are collected by grant-funded academics from the West and
then exported and published, yet its return to Africa is mediated by the costs of the
publication in hard currency and costs of transit and arbitrage and the academic value
ascribed to the status of the publication. Technology, such as the digital links used by the
AVU, can reduce the costs of the first two components and improve the marketability of an
African product. As Karin Dumbaugh puts it in the Afro-Nets discussion above, 'Would
professionals in the UK and the US be a potential market for African University programs?'

The AVU is moving very slowly on these issues. Libraries, knowledge centres and African
knowledge production are low down on the list of priorities and 'online databases which are
accessible by Internet provide cost-effective alternative to journals in print'15 have
encountered problems. Alex Twino, the technical co-ordinator of AVU, Makerere University
Kampala said that there were two publishing agencies contracted by AVU to supply access
to, and delivery of, online versions of academic journals. Of the two – Bell and Howell and
HW Wilson – the latter had pulled out for an unstated reason. Although there are still an
enormous number of journals available – over 500 – a quick Internet search revealed that
HW Wilson were providers of 10 African journals while Bell and Howell could supply only
two. Clearly there are administrative, organisational and possibly financial difficulties to 'iron
out'. In addition there are no plans for local publications at AVU Makerere and none are
known for Kenyatta nor the University of Dar es Salaam.

The imbalance may change slowly and continued educational dependence and poor terms
of trade represent a low starting point to move from. Nemo Semret suggested in AfroNets
above that a '...good measure of the project would be the ratio "new bandwidth going
out/new bandwidth coming in"' This hints at the configuration of the project with incoming
video streams and question and answer sessions with lecturers at the end of the session
by voice only. The project is laying out a huge (256kbs+) bandwidth for incoming video
seminars which are recorded to be replayed later in lecture theatres. However outgoing
links are small. In Kampala there are plans for a medium sized 64kbs link (the same
capacity connection as is possible through a domestic telephone lines in the UK) through
Wilken-AfSat and IntelSat. Semret is making the point that links are structured to import
and that is an indicator of the information status of African AVU sites – they are receivers.

The operation of the project is being continuously worked out and there have been many
problems. In an sharp interview on the 3rd of October 1998 by Edwin Njoroge of the
Kenyatta University AVU Newsletter, Shola Aboderin outlined some of these difficulties.
The programme was executed hastily and she explains, 'We did not have time to train
everyone involved on the ground. We had to try and explain procedures and requirements
from a distance through e-mail and phone calls.' The technical complexities were not fully

World Bank (1997a)
Turner (1999)
addressed and this was excused because, 'One has to deal with various entities: satellite
providers, different institutions, each with their own way of doing things and some of whom
are not able to respond to requests in a timely fashion. There is the satellite time
reservation, studio reservation, different schedules for the individual professors, acquisition
and shipment of books, researching and finding and reviewing the courses. Many things
have to happen before a course is ready for delivery' There are many things still to do and
she outlines them and their background as 'completing the curriculum, improving the digital
library, working out AVU's organizational structure, improving the technical infrastructure so
that AVU sites can have good Internet connectivity that will allow them to use the Web in a
truly meaningful way. We are racing to complete all these tasks, but it requires a lot of time
and manpower, especially since we also have to continue current programs. We are
currently recruiting more people to help accomplish all these tasks'.

At Makerere there are a group of 300 AVU students wishing to access PCs – Personal
Computers. This individual interface for a network of users emphasises an issue of the
educational interface of AVU: users, machines and communication. Alex Twino estimates
that on peak days, those with most lectures, there are 200 users per day for just 20 AVU
computers. This pressure is driving new interface procedures and learning away from
traditional models.

On the user side there is a movement towards web-mail, where individuals log onto
international email provision services and, 'they are finding themselves in the middle of the
Internet - adverts, links, electronic forums.' The distanced FidoNet email interface has been
replaced with a live connection to the edge of modernity. 'I have to see where they are
going to check problems...mainly they are searching and researching, looking at overseas
universities and checking on their favourite hobbies'. This presents new and untested
research areas which fall outside the scope of this thesis. As a measure of 'decadence' I
asked the proportion of pornography traffic and the answer was around 40% which has
been the average throughout East Africa and much less than in developed countries. 16

Enrolment figures have shown that the AVU is offering what the market requires. There is
huge demand for higher education with branded quality and this initiative will contribute to
the expansion of the sector. Many of the problems within the AVU have been attributable to
haste, to large numbers of students and to the configuration of complex technological
enclaves. The future hangs between virtual university and real life.

History lessons and the information development prognosis

The experience of old globalisations and new globalisations has shown that there are clear
differences between ordered and hierarchical exchanges that have been built up in the
years following the incorporation of East Africa into a world economy and to the present
where there are newer, faster movements of data. Commodities underpin the East African
economy but the sectors of tourism and horticulture are currently contributing most to
economic and social change. Banking and finance together with transport mediate
payments and carriage for tea, tourists and even technology itself.

World Bank (1997)
Twino is the AVU system manager, the interview was conducted on 26th May 1999
The research questions whether the Internet, like the railways before, will kill ‘ every form of
locomotion that formerly held the same ground’ , which social relationships will these
technologies impact on and what changes will they drive. In answer to the first proposition I
would say that it is ripping up the rules of engagement in all modern sectors fuelled by
investors and speculators that willingly leap into the arms of a post-futurist enigma. Then it
is continually re-formed through its own boom and slump cycles – memory shortages in
Taiwan, processor glitches in Houston, anti-trust judgements in Seattle, overcapacity in
submarine fibre-optic cables and initial public offerings in Frankfurt and Madrid. I judge
these forces to be far removed from a continuous development – building up industrial
strength around training, knowledge and social improvement. I see it as far removed from
sustainable development because the global exploitation of human and natural resources
concentrated onto a small chip drives a desperate squandering of petrocarbons to move
speciality beans 6000 miles by aeroplane. Global computer networks power an insidious
and seductive mode of production picking the brightest flowers from the global garden and
presenting knowledge, food, songs and spectacle quite literally into your laptop.

There are concrete examples of how distributed knowledge is easing the interconnection of
medical science for the benefit of developing countries. HIV/AIDS is a classic example of
globalised disease where researchers in Nairobi inform institutions in Geneva and spur
further research in Brazil then trigger the release of funds from Washington over the course
of weeks and months rather than years. It demonstrates raw gains in efficiency that work
just as well for the Ford Motor Company17 with its shared international design and
development project spread across a band that includes west coast, east coast, Europe
and eastern Asia. The issue then, at its starkest level, is whether the capacity of global
computer networks is used to their fullest where location is not important and here
humanitarian and economic arguments should be deployed. Inclusivity is just as cheap an
option as exclusivity and tasks and knowledge can be distributed. Intercommunication
touches the peri-urban millions who have a hard and cruel life cradle to grave, dawn to
dusk and the precarious pastorale of the rural areas. In this sense Internet is not enough of
a unit of analysis. The phenomena of the mobile phone, the UN truck with the dish on top
and the government or agency 4x4 sprouting aerials are the isolated then serial incidence
of electronic networks. They represent contacts with something larger and richer and to use
these means of communication then you need a network to tap into yourself. There are
greater layers and deposits of intercommunication being written into localised histories of
post-telegraph, post-wireless, post-phone, post-Internet through first contact and hard

It is the means of exploitation of the asymmetrical and asynchronous and the width of
benefits gained that is the final measure. Dependency theory has been a good critical tool
for examining these issues as they develop – new bandwidth in/new bandwidth out and an
indicator for distributive and intercommunicative capacity. African universities have been so
disconnected and outiside the current of academic exchange that the Virtual University is
rain on a parched land. The next stages must be recognition and respect, the reason I have

Owner of Class A Internet domains, the virtual capital of distributed networks. See Chapter Five, Internet
come down hard on the lack of attention on their ‘ extensions’ – publications, an
international presence for libraries, local networks equal to international networks – and
means to be acknowledged, heard and then judged.

Primary education is now at the centre of development efforts. After thirty years of neglect it
has been rediscovered as a relatively cheap means to the end of reducing equalities and
enhancing prospects. A project I have seen emerge is an alliance between Cisco – market
leader in Internet routers – and the UK Department for International Development for
training primary teachers – training trainers. The reverberating lesson that has been put to
me by networkers has been that people are the best multipliers and carriers of information
and in face-to-face (telepresent?) instruction. Initiatives that multiplying the social asset of
education, which cannot be taken away yet might wither away in a ‘ cold’ ‘ dead’ climate, will
address the issues of literacy identified earlier on in this chapter and add to empowerment.
Two cuttings from the Ugandan press below give perspectives on the prospects of the AVU
and university graduates and the possibility that the water is being pumped yet the bucket
is not there. I have seen many struggling, few achieving the employment they wish for and
hard compromises made in order to support families or maintain dignity.
Postscript: Knowledge bases
The will to create virtual development spaces has become irresistible. The AVU has indeed
shown that relatively small and well targeted amounts of development capital can provide
supply side solutions to specific demands. These have been short term, unassessed and
‘Satellite varsity to cut costs’ ‘Too many degrees, too few street signs’
Charles Onyango­Obbo
New Vision, September 4, 1999 East African, October 11, 1999

Kampala  ­  Students  of  the  newly­conceived  Kampala  ­  Last  Friday,  there  was  a  convocation 
satellite  university  education  system  will  pay  less  for  the  first  batch  of  Makerere  University 
than  half  the  current  university  fees,  the  State  students  to  complete  their  degrees  in  the  1998/9 
Minister  for  Higher  Education,  Dr.  Abel  academic year.
Rwendeire,  said  yesterday,  reports  Charles 
Wendo. With  the  president  and  the  cream  of  society  in 
attendance, the roads in the busy northern sector 
He  said  compared  to  the  current  Makerere  of Kampala city leading to Makerere were closed. 
University fees, which average sh1m per semester,  People  travelling  to  and  from  work  lost  hours  in 
the satellite university students will pay sh400,000  the  long  traffic  jams  that  developed  on  those 
per semester. outlying  roads  that  were  open.  It  was  ironic, 
because most of the nearly 1,500 graduates won’t 
"We are forming a task force which should report  get jobs. Or, if they do, they will be lousy jobs.
in two months. We shall be starting next year," he 
said during an international veterinary conference  Unemployment has been so high for decades, it is 
at the International Conference Centre. not measured any longer – and it’s getting worse. 

Students  in  various  parts  of  the  country  will  Now  that  Makerere  has  churned  out  another  lot, 
simultaneously  listen  to  their  lecturers  sitting  in  over  the  next  nine  months  we  can  expect  to  see 
Kampala, and be able to ask questions, Rwendeire  pictures in the newspapers of graduates who have 
told the conference attended by veterinary doctors  looked  everywhere  for  jobs,  finally  losing  their 
from Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Namibia. minds,  throwing  off  their  clothes,  and  walking 
along the streets mumbling their grief
popular pathways to accumulated the knowledge resources of industrialised countries with
local add-ons that can also back-fill. The World Bank’ s AVU has been recently been
followed up by a USAID African Virtual Library which can only be ‘ seen’ by African Internet
addresses.18 It is an achievement but underlines the aspect of ‘ afterthought’ as it arrived a
full three years after the university and by April 2000 had not neither opened nor discussed
access to online materials.19

The two initiatives presage wider trends in development where significant resources are
being earmarked for the development of ‘ knowledge bases’ . These have three stimuli. First
there have been the structural changes from librarianship to information management
where inter-library loans have been replaced by online texts and remote access. Next there
has been developing country demand – as articulated above by professionals and
academics calling for library extension and outreach. The third trend has been by donors
that link these components into relatively cheap and high status projects which offer
electronic texts with minimal editing and abstracting through a world wide web interface.

The last year has seen a number of these projects reach outside the narrow academic
community20 through national subject projects,21 via international sector based initiatives22
to the vast international projects spearheaded by Washington and the World Bank. 23 This
latter project will create a contreversial24 $60 million development portal with edited country
and sector websites with the aim of providing digests, country guides, investment
opportunities and selected reading materials to ‘ visitors’ . It will be completed in 2003 and
already there is a model of the site although the details of ‘ editing’ are in the process of
wider consultation and dispute.

These new gateways and knowledge bases offer do not replace the journals that have
disappeared from the shelves of African libraries. In fact there is an imbalance in materials
that are available online. There are the publications that have fallen out of copyright and
are more than 70 years old at one end of the spectrum and on the other there are the most
recent texts – those created in the digital era, already published in ASCII text and portable
document format (.pdf) and already online. Knowledge bases are at once huge information
filters, centralised collections, connections and accumulations of value added knowledge.

A highly technologised centre is wholesaling processed developing country data from a

capital intensive high technology centre that has been funded, constructed, staffed and
edited by industrialised countries. It achieves the first objective set out at the beginning of
this chapter – intercommunication for development – yet fails to embrace the potential
economic and institutional participation of the subjects of this development. The World
Bank’ s Development Gateway still has the chance to remedy some of these failings, yet it
An therefore remains unverified by this research in its latter stages
The African Virtual Library Initiative (2000) Quarterly report No.1, March 2000 Nairobi,
For instance the Electronic Library Development Information System (ELDIS) at the Institute for Development
Studies, University of Sussex
The DFID offers a Sustainable Livelihoods knowledge base at
The Consultative Group for Action on Poverty (CGAP) Microfinance Gateway,
The Development Gateway,
Already the UK Institute of Development Studies has pulled back from involvement under guidance from its
ethics committee
seems that there will remain one way traffic, local production will remain close to zero while
value-added and the accumulation of expertise will remain at the centre. Development
information is being marked up and distributed, yet with an opportunity cost to development

Despite the spread of participatory methods in research and the poorest representing their
own poverty, criticisms made at the beginning of the 1980s remain. Robert Chambers
ethical guide to rural development25 berated the time delays of repatriating the results of
research. Internet and knowledge bases meet this criticism with the possibility for a timely
turn-around between data gathering, analysis, publishing and local consumption. However
the spatial divisions of production and control of this information remain unaddressed by
DFID, World Bank and CGAP. The architecture and machinery of intellectual property are
far removed from the subjects and participants in an anti-ethical application of control-
freakery that runs counter to economic logic. The research identified companies,
institutions and individuals highly capable of hosting and working on the portals of
development information. The means of transporting, monitoring and paying for this work
are in place yet there remains a development gap – communications between markets,
subcontractors and capital remain inactive due to a lack of self-confidence on the part of
African players and protectionism in the development industry of the North.

Chambers R (1983) Rural Development: Putting the last first Intermediate Technology, London
Chapter Nine

‘ With the realisation of dromocratic26-type progress, humanity will stop being diverse. It will tend to
divide only into hopeful populations (who are allowed the hope that they will reach, in the future,
someday, the speed that they are accumulating, which will give them access to the possible-that is,
to the project, the decision, the infinite: speed is the hope of the West) and despairing
populations, blocked by the inferiority of their technological vehicles, living and subsisting in a finite
world’ 27

In East Africa, everything is for development and everyone votes for development. Internet
is bound up in that ideology of progress and proclaimed on advertising hoardings, clips on
the radio and in full page newspaper advertisements. It is in all the other media, it is
infiltrating their structures, it carries the New Vision to desktops in Florida, it carries Radio
Simba in streaming audio and costs more than the average wage. There are two circuits,
Milton Santos declared. ‘ The upper circuit is the direct result of technological progress…
Most of its relations take place outside the city and surrounding area and operate in a
national or international framework. The lower circuit consists of small scale activities and
is almost exclusively for the poor.’ 28 This segregation holds true for modern infrastructure.

Table HA: Urban access to utilities

UN Habitat, Urban indicators Database 25/02/99

On the edges of Nairobi there are roughly constructed booths with lop-sided signs marked
‘ telephone bureau’ and in Kampala, women sit all day beside phone kiosks selling units
from their phonecards for a small commission to cash-only clients. They are the local
infomediaries for the un-connected.

Internet and email cover two sides of distance. Social distance is maintained through the
divisions of infrastructures, literacies and money. This mean that rural areas, slums and
economic backwaters, without access to education and utilities, are remote from the
Internet. Geographical distance has been eaten away by the information potential of rapid
multimedia interaction but the underlying transport produces unevenness. Poor roads and
irregular timetables conspire to slow down training and maintenance while thin satellite
connections struggle with congestion and the current of incoming traffic.

Data connections are configured to the nation and its stock of modern resources. The
development of Internet connectivity is tied up with historical dilemmas in development –
‘ Dromocracy: the power of the people plowed under by the power to technological speed’, Virilio P (1983)
Pure War Semiotext(e), New York
Virilio P (1986) Speed and Politics Semitotext(e), New York p47
Santos 1979:9
people, capital and progress. In the 1930s it was simple. The British maintained a balance
in expenditures between development and welfare. Development was generally
infrastructure and welfare was generally health and education. In the 1960s it was more
difficult because welfare had become an intrinsic part of national development. In the
1990s, much of infrastructure development is in the private sector while more of the welfare
services are in the voluntary sector. With this fragmentation away from a central state then
communications have become important in linking projects, funders, implementing
companies, consultants, administrators and government. It is no coincidence that the
majority of subscribers to electronic mail and Internet services are at this ‘ middle level’ as
Mercy Wambui put it. McLuhan boldly states that:

Retribulation is the universal mode in every kind of organisation, regardless of

geography or ideology. The cause is the speed-up of information movement to instant
levels. The resulting “ inflation” of cultural currency creates a corresponding decline in
all residual or establishment areas29

The concept of retribalisation/retribulation may not be re-exportable to East Africa but a

unified and Africanised civil service has been streamlined and structurally adjusted.
Communications service provision now rests with at least three telecommunications
companies in each country and there are more than twenty Internet Service Providers in
East Africa. Welfare provision is underwritten by 30,000 harambee groups and 500 NGOs
in Kenya,30 8,000 NGOs in Tanzania31 with 154 Kampala NGOs listed in the yellow pages 32.
There is growing diversity in communications infrastructure and the social sector.

Internet thrives in this entanglement of information needs. It combines two standard pieces
of office equipment – the phone and the computer – and an email is a fraction of the price
of a call.1 It delivers documents much faster than by post and more aesthetically than by
fax. Between 1990 and 1999, it was steadily adopted by both large-scale and grassroots
development sectors. As pioneers, they adopted these means of communication in four
main ways. First, as an effective ‘ substitute mobility’ for transporting ideas, perspectives
and documents to other connected individuals and institutions, and to link in with oral and
hard-copy circulation. Second, to create and add to forums of discussion which had not
existed in this form before, like mailing lists, newsgroups and conferences by email. Third,
as a billboard with an international reach where materials could be published and with
directories of text, images and sometimes audio or video clips. Lastly, email and Internet
have been exploited to search and retrieve diverse and unconnected encyclopaedic news,
archive and research resources. The full range of these techniques have been used in
combination by organisations such as EcoNews and HealthNet in their electronic
networking repertoire. Events such as the UN World Conference on Women and the
UNECA African Development Forum 1999 linked remote actors and challenged codes.2
McLuhan M with Watson W (1971) From cliché to archetype Pocket Books p119
Kanyinga 1995:74-75
Karsan A (1999) ‘ NGOs deride govt move on national policy’ The Express 9th July 1999
In fact, The Monitor Business Directory 1998
There is a psychological factor in play here. Just as livelihood strategies implies a denial of the long term in
preference to the short term, this is a situation where costs and overheads are not totalled. An example is when
a motorist measures cost by the amount of petrol consumed rather than with insurance, taxes, maintenance
and depreciation factored in. Internet and email users often measure cost by an individual transaction rather
than accounting for phone rental, computer depreciation, ISP subscription and call cost.
Melucci A (1996) Challenging codes: Collective action in the information age Cambridge University Press,
Public access Internet is in a continual process of change as subscriber numbers jump
from the minuscule to the tiny. The four fundamental ways of using the connections,
outlined above, have been widely adopted yet commercial use has added little to the
extension of function. Competition, especially in the structuring of Kenyan and Tanzanian
Internet service provision, has forced ISPs to seek out customers and covered all market
concentrations. This has also impacted on smaller and email-only operators who have
been forced to innovate and subsist on niche services. With the on-line market stretched to
maximal levels and access out of the price range of mass usage then interfaces, multipliers
and halfway solutions show means of spreading connectivity.

The layer of exchange between on-line and off-line spaces is the grey area where forces
and relations of communication interact. At the widest level, other currents – newspapers,
radio, television and ‘ society’ – soak up influence and pass it down. These are one-way
systems and for reflexive interaction then human nodes are necessary. Information
brokers, cumpridors and operators at the exchange can train marshal resources. Johnson
Nkuuhe states the scenario succinctly: ‘ As the Internet is basically English and more than
80 percent of the people don't speak English, there has to be some value added in terms of
translation. Also the Internet has lots and lots of information which can be very frustrating
and costly if you don't know what you are looking for. So for the Internet to be able to reach
Africa in a meaningful way, somebody will have to add value in selecting appropriate
information and assisting users.’ 1

Networking has provided internal support mechanisms that have allowed the multiplication
of skills through the training of trainers and the APC were at the forefront of this in the mid-
nineties. However these means of skills diffusion are only as useful as the multiplication of
Internet connections. Training is affected by the technical interface of a personal computer
rather than a community interface. As Johnson Nkuuhe puts it, ‘ Computers in the Western
world are "personal" computers: one person, one terminal. In the African context, it would
help to have a community tool whereby an expert or a few experts use it so others in the
community can also benefit from it. Right now in Uganda, many people who want to send
messages for funerals, weddings, family announcements and so on, have to travel about
50 kilometres to the district town. They write the message which they give to the post office
and somebody phones. If there was a community facility using the Internet, they could
explain their problem to whoever is using the equipment and this person would put it in a
form that can be transmitted’ .

Systems then need to take a step backward – contrary to Latour’ s absolute of irreversibility
– and to reintroduce human agency at this level and away from the graphical user
interface. The approximate solution seems to be the multipurpose community telecentre,
where library meets exchange.

Multipliers and halfway solutions

Extracts of an interview with permission, Alan McLuskey, Kuala Lumpur, 21st June 1997
There is a divide between subscribers and informal users. While subscribers make a
conscious choice of long term expense, informal users can open an email account with just
a short window of Internet access and then will use it further by their own measures of
costs and benefits. This fills in the gap between access and no access with accessibility.
The FidoNet connections were open to public use but hidden away and with little
promotional activity while cybercafes and ISPs have such capitalisation that not to
advertise would be suicide.

Promotion and advertising are therefore multipliers but they combine with economic and
social demonstration effects. Competitively, in the form of the status of having an electronic
mail addresses; Co-operatively, where friends and colleagues introduce each other to
email and web interfaces; Proprietarily, by access given as part of employment. The Bank
of Tanzania shows how a large group of users were introduced en masse to workplace
electronic mail access. Webmail has been an area where previously unconnected groups
have been able to maintain an Internet identity without a permanent connection, domestic
electricity or phone.

FidoNet has an enduring quality because it is very cheap, it works anywhere with power
and electricity and it is email, plain and simple, which cannot be differentiated from
conventional email by the recipient. ISPs are also wise to plain email services and the
example of Form-Net’ s 500Ksh2 NGO account attests to the fact that around 600 users are
happy with this solution. However Webmail and workplace users now outstrip legacy Fido
and email only accounts. This is the future of halfway solutions. HF radio and Fido will only
remain options while mobile phone connections are rare because the market dictates
through its economies of scale that SMTP/IP is be the ‘ cheapest’ form of connectivity.3

The personal homepage is ubiquitous in developed countries where it is more rare in

Africa.4 This is also an opportunity cost of webmail use and it misses the creation of a
deeper, 24 hour, Internet identity and interface with the world. In the United States
especially, it has been a motor of web development in the form of petty communications
production. Many portals were started by enthusiastic amateurs whose ‘ first mover’
advantage gave them web gravity that enabled the professionalisation of their sites.
Examples are an ethnic portal, a ‘ wallpaper’ portal, an educational portal. A large number of web editors and
webmasters also followed this route5 and these are the means of addressing traffic
imbalances and towards local ecommerce – producing local content and generating East
African net output.

About $US8 per month
I put cheapest in inverted commas here because on a spreadsheet calculation of reliability of connection, data
transfer rates and the expense and depreciation of basic equipment FidoNet would probably still win. When the
unmeasurables of mobile phone versus fixed line reliability, fast new computer versus slow old computer and
the potential of web browsing are included then SMTP/IP is worth it.
I measure this by statistics from with just 40 personal homepages
Including two ‘graduates’ of a lecture I gave on HTML at Makerere in 1995. I installed freeware mark-up tools
on a computer and the rest was self-taught. They have been responsible for Sheraton Hotel, Acacia, UNESCO
and a number of other Ugandan located sites.
Geopolitics and the pipeline from the west
East Africa has been reconfigured. In global capitalism, independent governments have
always had to heed bankers and the markets. In East Africa, these bankers – by financial
importance the IMF and World Bank – are themselves accountable to other governments.
This leads to a chain of international patron-client relationships with East African
governments near the bottom and just above their citizens.

In recent times, Uganda more than Tanzania and Kenya, has been disciplined in
government and economic management by the outside world. It has remained a
geopolitically strategic bulwark against the ‘ fundamentalism’ of Sudan, supports the
Sudanese People’ s Liberation Army (SPLA)1, has intervened in Rwanda and invaded the
Democratic Republic of Congo. This brand of politics is regionally strategic yet Cold War
markers – ‘ military advisors’ and closed trains with arms consignments – have been a
feature of the conflicts. Permanent, low-level warfare has marked the period 1987-1999.
Three prominent armed rebel forces are the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) 2, the Allied
Democratic Forces (ADF)3 and the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF)4. These groups have
allied and then disengaged but have proved to be a serious force of destabilisation and are
not alone5 in opposing the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government.

Faced with these, defensive and offensive, military involvements the Ugandan defence
budget has grown6 and outside funding and debt relief are vital for the impact on the rest of
the budget to be minimised. Bill Clinton’ s 1998 visit to the country brought the promise of
$US 120 million over two years to target Universal Primary Education7, this of course is
unrelated to military expenditure. In April of the same year Uganda qualified for $US 338
million debt relief through the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) programme.

Meanwhile Kenya is caught between a rock and a hard place. As the Sunday Nation8 puts

The government, by its inability to control the haemorrhage of resources as a result of

corruption and by its inability to win widespread support form the population because of
a poor record in satisfying common expectations, has hedged itself in.
Whose leader John Garang studied with Museveni at the University of Dar es Salaam
The LRA has supported by the Sudanese. It is commanded by the uncle of Alice Lakwena whose Holy Spirit
Movement marched on Kampala in 1987 – 5,000 died. They both relied on Maji Maji-type mysticism to
encourage their forces. It has been militarily active in the North and around Gulu and Lira since 1992 and
responsible for continuous death and destruction. After local and international pressure, Museveni has offered
the rebels an unconditional amnesty and in 1999 peace seems sure.
The ADF are a mixture of Interhamwe, ex-Zairean troops and Ugandan dissidents active in western Uganda.
They have been responsible for the Bwindi massacre, a series of bombings in Kampala and two ‘invasions’ at
Bundibugyo and Kasese in 1997-98. Their recent threats have singled out foreigners and Uganda’s obeisance
to World Bank money and reforms. The threats (mainly decapitation) were faxed to hostel where I was staying
in Kampala which had already been hand-grenaded in January 1999. The bombings were recently foiled and
have now stopped.
The WNBF is based in the North-West near Arua , sporadically raids the area and it lists one of Amin’s sons
(he was from West Nile) in its ranks
Other notable groups are the Ugandan Salvation Front in Eastern Uganda, The National Army for the
Liberation of Uganda (through whom ADF threats were faxed) and the Uganda Muslims Salvation Front while
the Mukono Forest, close to Kampala, is a traditional home to bandits and army deserters.
The 1996/7 budget was detailed as $US37 million or 4% of GDP, Mwangangi A (1999) ‘Used guns: Uganda is
armed and dangerous’ East African No.256; The real figure may be many times more than this. With a standing
army of 100,000 at the average wage ($25/month) just the cost of troops is $30 million per year.
The Monitor March 24th 1998
Owned by the Aga Khan
And the only way it can extricate itself is by pleasing the IMF and the World Bank.
Whereas this is not an evil in itself, for the conditions imposed by these institutions
frequently overlap with national interest, there is an inner national sanctum into which
the IMF must never be admitted.9

By these two cases, sovereignty has been enhanced a little and dimmed a lot. It was no
coincidence that in 1985 the late Julius Nyerere asked, ‘ Should we really let our people
starve so we can pay our debts?’ 10, shortly before he retired and shortly before the 1986
IMF structural adjustments. Tanzania, like Uganda, has also implemented the full IMF and
World Bank programmes and under HIPC, should see external debt reduced from $US 8
billion to $1.2 billion by 2005.

Multinationals are back

The shape of global computer networks in East Africa is overshadowed by these shifts in
influence and orientation. Import barriers have fallen and the countries are more firmly
oriented to the outside world. The data in chapters five, six and seven shows that there is a
strong relationship between telecommunications traffic and the other external interfaces of
trade and tourism. The unmistakable trend however is that the currents carry larger
volumes of goods and traffic into East Africa than the region sends in return.

Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are sacrificing control over profitable PTTs and reshaping
their own role from production to regulation. This has produced increases in teledensity that
could be sustainable and a climate of change. Meanwhile, this local disintegration is
matched by an upsurge in multinational telecommunications mergers. The Financial Times
assess these changes in terms of national monopolies moving towards global oligopoly
within liberalised markets.

‘ For most of the 100 or so years the industry has been in existence, the big operators
have provided mostly basic services on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, protected behind the
barriers of their monopoly status.

Now, stripped of this protection and facing competition at home and abroad, operators
are seeking ways to secure and, more important, hold on to as many customers as
possible. As a consequence, merger and acquisition activity in the industry has never
been more intense or more iconoclastic as operators strive for size and influence’ .1

Megamergers have gripped the global telecommunications, computer and media sector.
MCI World Com took over Sprint for $US115 billion in 1999 while Alexander Bell’ s AT&T
has spent $100 billion on buying up companies in the same year. East Africa is irrelevant in
this context and the defensive stance of KPTC over the past ten years seems entirely
reasonable. The mergers have impacted on Uganda and Kenya through their links with
Vodafone2 and Uganda and Tanzania through their connections with Global One partners.3

Sunday Nation (1999) ‘Editorial: Our sovereignty is not for sale’ Sunday Nation September 5th 1999
The Guardian (UK) 21st March 1985
Cane A (1999) ‘The gloves are off and no holds are barred’ Financial Times Telecoms June 9th 1999
Vodafone Airtouch who recently merged their US mobile operations with those of Bell Atlantic to create the
only country-wide US mobile phone network
France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, partners with Sprint in the international Global One alliance. They will
be ditched by the merger.
Kenya calmly holds onto its state monopoly to maximise returns and its strategy has been
the model of well organised state capitalism. KPTC and the government have manipulated
competition to deliver the best national terms in the form of cash and connectivity. The ‘ evil’
of the retained monopoly has been explained by the example of their neighbour. ‘ That is
the mistake Uganda made. They set out to license a Second National Operator before
privatising the existing telecommunications firm. That had the net effect of reducing interest
in it’ , Jan Mutai told a Reuters reporter in 1998. The global awareness of the corporation
was also stated clearly at the same time, ‘ The major point of worry right now is the relative
problem of emerging markets, after what's happened in the Far East and elsewhere. It
worries us whether it will reduce the appetite in Telkom Kenya’ .4

There are no short-circuits to progress and Uganda has shown that, even with the IMF at
one ear and the World Bank at the other, there are better ways to operate. The Internet
policy error has meant that the potential connectivity outside the capital city lags behind
both Tanzania and Kenya. Privatisation however is still in contention. Rushing policy
forward all at once, rather than to ration lucrative contracts, could work out well. Rather
than maximising returns to the state from the proceeds of sale it has given an incentive for
MTN, the second national operator, to establish a customer base. This has knock on
effects for teledensity where initial results are promising but the future is unknown5
Research reflection
The thesis has been limited by the possibilities of working between three different countries
with three ways of doing things, three sets of permits and with vast distances to travel. The
research started out at the middle level/upper circuit, working outwards from these people
and stayed mainly in cities. Telecentres arrived late in the timetable and provide an exciting
counterpoint to the urbanity of Internet and email connections.

The research has picked its way between technical, social and geographical theory and
practice. Although it may seem to have crossed into the technical, it is at the near side of
telecommunications engineering and policy. Many times my eyes have glazed over when
the specifications of equipment and the intricacies of protocols have left me feeling that I
must be in a different world. Technical specialisations have themselves multiplied through
the research and what was a fairly homogenous sector in 1995, has split into half a dozen
sub-disciplines. Disciplines are very much alive and as a generalist by training, it has been
a case of learning as I went.

Datasets would have been improved by cultivating contacts to ‘ acquire’ information through
the back-door but would have crossed ethical lines drawn up. The formal approach of data
collection provoked mixed reactions. Promises were made, some were fulfilled and there
were some big let-downs. A researcher in this environment can only work on all fronts at all
times because nothing is guaranteed. As a contemporary, Ellen Kole, wrote to me in an

Esipisu M (1998) ‘Market woes may hurt Telkom Kenya sale, Interview with Jan Mutai, managing director of
KPTC’ Reuters November 20 th 1998
Ethiopia provides a warning to MTN's low-tariff, loss-leading approach. ETC, the state mobile phone operator
saw 46% of their customers leave the service after tariff increases. According to the Xinhua press agency, the
charges are still below the levels charged in the current Ugandan mobile boom. ‘ With a capacity to serve 50
000 subscribers, the ETC is now offering service to only 7 000 users mainly due to the high tariff rate of about
nine U.S. cents per minute.’ Xinhua (1999) ‘Nearly half of Ethiopia' s mobile phone users cancel’ Xinhua press
agency, August 31st 1999
email, ‘ It was Murphy’ s Law all the time’ . However, time spent researching in the region
previously had reined in my ambition and they do things differently there. I enjoyed my time
and learned a lot in diverse and innovative countries, the ‘ cradle of mankind’ .

I think that the thesis has matched the markers set by Actor-Network theory and the post-
structuralist schools and more. It provides a statistical, historical and qualitative basis for
perceiving the ‘ complexities’ , ‘ discontinuities’ and ‘ rhizomes’ of development and
datacommunications in East Africa. It offers pointers on the configuration of
informationalised countries and unequally connected countries. Uniquely, it pilots new
techniques for examining traffic and the ethical boundaries for this type of research. Its
strength is that it closes theoretical gaps between technical and social research without
drifting into technological determinism. We are at the beginning of an age when on-line
materials will provide a lot of the input for undergraduate and other studies. The thesis has
sought out, and engaged with, these sources while maintaining a firm grounding in situated
theory and area studies. There is a lot to carry forward.

The region and research, present and future

East Africa is at another uncertain juncture. Kenya is once again at an impasse with the
IMF, making promises then reneging on deals. The issue has returned to governance and
the contention is over planned constitutional changes. These are focused around the
impending retirement of Daniel Arap Moi, scheduled in 2002 and have provoked concern in
the church, civil society and the donor community.1 Tanzania meanwhile has recently lost
the father of the nation, Julius Nyerere, while its union with Zanzibar remains as shaky as
ever. Uganda is showing the first signs of economic trouble with inflation rising rapidly while
it continues on its mission of nation-building. A constitutional referendum will be held in
2000 and elections in 2001. Together the three countries are still struggling to come to full
agreement and to sign a treaty which would bring the East African community back into
existence, albeit with a smaller role that in 1976. The inequalities of inter-country trade and
are still barriers to mediated progress but negotiations have come tantalisingly close to re-
igniting the regional partnership.

East African countries are reaching into history to present a united front and to combine
political and economic resources to confront the severe changes in the world economy that
have occurred since their divergence. The common fibre-optic cable is one of the first
manifestations of this new will and, unsurprisingly, infrastructure and customs will be the
centrepiece of these initiatives. This is a repetition of colonial development in the empire-
colony model and the last major co-operative venture between national PTTs before
privatisation transforms them entirely.

These global influences of liberalisation, technology and interconnection are at the centre
of forces of change. In all computer mediated networks, packets have become the standard
means for carrying voice and data. In boundless space, the boundaries are the same as
they ever were. Economic lines distinguish between the mobile and the immobile and the
circuits they track. The new spaces are those unearthed by differently drawn frontiers of

The push for the last changes, in 1997, culminated in bloody monthly demonstrations around the country led
by the church and the opposition
taboo or by the new reach of seeing – understood or misconceived. Mobility is the new

The new digital technologies are not benign. They are knowledge technologies which
emphasise existing centres of research and development. They are organising
technologies that emphasise existing centres of control. They are distributive technologies
which ‘ follow the cables’ as far as they reach. Local alternatives must compete yet what
seem to be low overheads to market entry are higher in developing countries by virtue of
borrowing costs, opportunity costs of foreign exchange, costs to ensure reliable power and
network access and low economies of scale. The state is hanging on to control of the
means of information by its fingertips and cannot support, nurture or subsidise local
research and development.

Trickle down development is being upgraded to a gush of incoming data, culture and
influence. This corrente2 – both flowing current and restrictive chain – shows the abstract
and virtual bonds that encircle development. The production of local goods and local
content is guided by the context of the western consumers. Local consumers – ‘ the few’ –
favour the tide of imports. East African commodity production was a cornerstone of the old
global economy and if it is the consumer that is king then current producers will be continue
to be subject to the tyranny of ruthlessly efficient – organising and distributive – digitised
international markets. East African culture and learning will wait at the end of Internet pipes
for the lessons and materials pumped from the west.

In the Portuguese this means current, running, flowing, common and chain
A form of electronic substitution and duplication commonly used to present internet and
email addresses in an alternative format for systems and users
of, relating to, or being a mechanism in which data is represented by continuously variable
physical quantities (source:
Association for Progressive Communications, a global alliance of providers of electronic
and internet services
Automatic Teller Machine, a cashpoint
The World Bank funded African Virtual University
Correcting or adding to a process in retrospect. Bug-fixing and preparing current software
for other platforms is a form of backfilling.
The opposite to a frontier, hidden regions of experience
‘ The bandwidth of a transmitted communications signal is a measure of the range of
frequencies the signal occupies. The term is also used in reference to the frequency-
response characteristics of a communications receiving system. All transmitted signals,
whether analog or digital, have a certain bandwidth. The same is true of receiving systems.
Generally speaking, bandwidth is directly proportional to the amount of data transmitted or
received per unit time. In a qualitative sense, bandwidth is proportional to the complexity of
the data for a given level of system performance. For example, it takes more bandwidth to
download a photograph in one second than it takes to download a page of text in one
second. Large sound files, computer programs, and animated videos require still more
bandwidth for acceptable system performance. Virtual reality (VR) and full-length three-
dimensional audio/visual presentations require the most bandwidth of all.’ 1
The measure of a 'starting point'
Because It's Time Network
Irregularly timed yet significant communications, for instance electronic mail
Capacity Building for Electronic Communication in Africa, collaboration between Padis and
Allows callers to dial an access number and register the international telephone number
they wish to call. They are then called back with a connection and charged US international
rates for the call
Prepaid telephone units to make international or local calls using internet telephony or call
time bought from a wholesaler or minutes exchange
A heavily protected convoy of humans, pack animals and supplies for transporting people
and goods long distances
Lotus email program (Lotus is now owned by IBM)
Code Division Multiple Access, bandwidth divided up into strips to allow secure and
dependable encrypted and transported communication.
A measure in internet advertising where the hot-link from an advertising banner is activated
and the user leaves their current site for the advertisers site triggering a payment for the
company displaying the advert.
Literally 'a buyer', a derogatory term for an agent of international capital. A group or person
that gains from the commercial exploitation of their own country.
A means of shrinking the size of data while retaining its integrity through open standards
such as shorthand, ZIP, JPEG, MPEG/MP3 and HQX. Closely related to encryption.
Literally 'responsible', a form of honest brokering that depends on justice and rights rather
than the commerce of a 'comprador'.
(1)Immediate information that has a 'best before date' and opportunity costs.
(2)Circulating and regularly routed information. Many complex osmoses between 'hot and
cold' locale and circuits
(3)Forces of information with an intrinsic value based on the exploitation of distance and
A commercial access point for email and internet
Unequal relationships based on exchange and connectivity
Information represented as binaries – zeros and ones, on and off – that allow signalled
transport and imply a more efficient use of bandwidth and greater ease of compression and
Cutting out the 'middleman' or, as the French say it, 'entrepreneur'. Where ecommerce
links between consumer and producer act to exclude conventional intermediaries
Giddens’ term for the operation of society and the conduct of relationships over larger and
larger distances and enabled by technology and extensions
Domain Name Server. The means by which Internet routes are determined through
resolving numbered Internet addresses ( from named ( Internet
The addition of geographical co-ordinates into DNS information
Structures of named Internet addresses based on international, national and proprietary
The East African Internet Association
Electronic commerce - usually in reference to secure selling, ordering and purchasing
through a remote web page interface
Where data is transformed for secure carriage between points of exchange. Decryption is
under proprietary or user control based on transaction identity verification, passwords,
keys, cards and other unlocking mechanisms
Electronic Point Of Sale, where credit and debit cards are charged locally and transacted
FAT binary
File Allocation Tables in a binary format. A format for storing and retrieving information on
magnetic and solid state media
Abbreviation for file and mail transfers and protocols using the FidoNet wide area network
A proprietary standard, non-Internet compatible protocol routed through a gateway which
maintains durable connections with a high resiliency and using crash recovery. Also, the
organisational structure that supports the messaging system
Reducing quantities of information to a proprietary criteria
the Fibre-optic Link Around the Globe, a joint venture between Bell Atlantic; Asian
Infrastructure Fund, Hong Kong; Dallah Albaraka, Saudi Arabia; Telecom Holding Co.,
Thailand; and Marubeni Corporation, Japan. This is where the BIG money comes from
Storage media that archives data optically on flexible discs
VHF radio stations using Frequency Modulation
Full Duplex
Live two way communication such as a telephone
Geostationary satellites operating at a height of about 36,000km above the earth

Geographical Information Systems, databases with a graphical interface used for archiving,
analysing and representing spatial data
Application software designed to provide electronic support for groups of individuals
working collectively toward a common objective
Half Duplex
Delayed two-way communications ie a walkie-talkie
Kenyan fundraising organisations and meetings for donations that are made towards
community initiatives
An old distinction, similar to a Cartesian dichotomy, distinguishing parts of computer
systems by their 'tangibility'
Radio that operates in the 3 to 30 Megahertz range by bouncing signals off the ionosphere,
also known as short wave.
HyperText Transfer Protocol - Means of requesting and delivering text and other data
usually for display in a browser application
A form of information 'roundabout' which can mediate, route and direct data and traffic.
Internet Connectivity Provider - organisations which providing the bandwidth out of the
country, operating links between local ISPs and an international connection ultimately to
the fibre-optic Internet backbone in Europe and the US.
International Centre for Research in Agroforestry
The upward spiral of technical specification based on increasing capacities of memory,
storage and data transfer speeds which are entwined with larger programs, greater
databases and market expectation. Overspecification creates expectation which is fulfilled
by overspecification.
An electronic or information intermediary. An organisational electronic interface for the
provision of goods or services or a human communications intermediary.
Information broking
Filtering or mediating electronic information
The time-based version of distanciation. The operation of society and the conduct of distant
relationships over shorter and shorter periods and elapsed time, enabled by technology
and extensions
An electronic or human frontier of exchange between humans and networks, networks and
An adaptation of internet protocol based on a 10(3) increase in addresses and the
introduction of priority.
A proprietary or private computer network often based on http protocol
Internet Protocol – TCP/IP
IP Address
A numbering ( and naming ( convention for Internet
connected computers
Internet Protocol Next Generation - Internet2
Internet Protocol version four - The Internet protocol dominant between 1989 and 2000
Internet Protocol version six - Internet2
Integrated Services Digital Network, a system that uses three telephone lines and no
modem (instead a terminal adapter) to allow two full data channels (2 times 64k = 128k)
Internet Service Provider, The organisation providing dial-up, ISDN, xDSL and/or wireless
Internet connections.
The United Nations International Telecommunications Union mediating international
standards, statistics and analysis for telecommunications
The World Conservation Union
A language (and scripting language) that is portable between different computer platforms
and developed by Sun Microsystems
Kilobits per second. A measure of data transfer speeds and therefore bandwidth. A copper
telephone line offers between 56 and 64 Kbps.
The Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation. The former name of the state
operated PTT
A protocol for simple transfers of data between two computers. Now becoming more
The myth that it is possible for countries can jump development 'stages' and implies moving
from primary production directly to 'information economy'.
Low Earth Orbiting satellite, LEO systems can be either "Little LEO" systems or "Big LEO"
systems. A Little LEO system "is a small non-geostationary satellite which operates in Low

Earth Orbit, providing mainly mobile data services" and a Big LEO system "is a larger non-
geostationary satellite which operates in Low Earth Orbit, again providing mobile telephony
services." International Telecommunication Union World Telecommunication Policy Forum
An open source operating system influenced by UNIX that is free, durable and can operate
on most computer platforms
A technique of themed email conferencing where single messages are sent to multiple
recipients, usually through a list moderator
The local proprietary internet domain
An automatically generated record of system processes in computers
A Kenyan shared taxi or minibus
A Low Earth Orbiting Satellite weighing between 10 and 100kg
More than two way communications
Munge or Munj
Automatic processing of information to discriminate between and separate out elements
A foreigner/European. Literally, an exclamation of surprise
Distribution of information to an audience over electronic connections
A technique of themed and sometimes moderated email conferencing where messages are
'posted' in a addressed location and/or distributed to members of a mailing list.
A Non-Government Organisation
The tendency towards NGOs as leading players in society
The Orkonerei Pastoralists Integrated Survival Programme
Practical Extraction and Reporting Language, a scripting language very useful for text
manipulation and common tool for inputting and outputting information from Web Pages
Point to Point Protocol, a means of carrying Internet over a telephone line
Point of Presence, a local point for dialling into an ISP without having to pay long distance
rates or negotiate shaky national lines

Post Office Protocol, for retrieving email over a dial-up connection and similar to SMTP but
with a limited and appropriate instruction set
The Plain Old Telephone System
The set of rules defining and controlling the interchange of information between two sets of
data processing equipment
Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones. State telecommunications providers.
Reduced instruction set computing, a type of processor
Equipment for switching and forwarding data. However it is in the process of being
superseded by better host and node functions
Satellite periphery
Dependent locations that rely on satellite connection to the Internet
Standard Drawing Rights, A international payment standard or currency
Single Line Internet Protocol, A means of running an Internet connection over a telephone
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, A protocol for sending and receiving internet mail
The other side of the hardware/software dichotomy representing 'intangibles'
Junk electronic mail and unnecessary excess (often promotional) information
A variety of Sun Workstation
Streaming media, streaming video, streaming audio
Chunks of narrowcast data designed to be downloaded and played on the fly to be
discarded (and therefore not saved, copied and owned) by the application
A lower level in the hierarchy of named Internet addresses more often arbitrary rather than
proprietary and never national
Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol - Internet Protocol or Internet
Time division multiple access, a form of multiplexing
A location for the public access of internet and other telecommunications services
Distance medicine conducted over electronic connections, usually referring (optimistically)
to 'live' interventions using interactive video

Transaction data
Automatically generated records of computer and/or telecommunications communication
Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation Limited, the Tanzanian state
telecommunications provider
Tunnelling is a term used to describe the encapsulation of an endpoint address in a
message routed via an intermediate address, the tunnel address2
An operating system widely used in workstations and mainframes
Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation, the former Ugandan state
telecommunications provider
Uganda Telecommunications Limited, the now-privatised former UPTC
Unix to Unix CoPy. Electronic mail originated from this simple application to copy data
between two Unix machines. The basis of a durable emailing system lying between
compressed and resilient FidoNet and relatively delicate SMTP on POP3
Value Added Network Services, telecommunications services
Very Small Aperture Terminal, a type of digital satellite connection particularly suited to
Programming technique to check for errors, follow instructions and see how it operates
Email that is held on a web site and accessed from a remote terminal with a user name and
password. Allows on-line composition and transmission of messages
Windows NT
New Technology, A higher end operating system for servers and workstations soon to be
superseded by integrated Windows 98/NT bundle – Windows 2000
An open connection protocol from the 1980s and 1990s commonly experienced in the form
of PAD or KERMIT access
Digital Subscriber Line, Local-loop or ‘ last mile’ access technology that delivers broadband
connectivity (between 1Mbps and 54 Mbps) over copper wires

Porter J and Gilmurray D (1996) Tunnelled Signalling for the Support of Mobile ATM
Contribution to the ATM forum, Olivetti Research, Vancouver

Appendix One:
Perl script walk-through

$inlog = '/home/rupert/logs/teralogs/data/maillog';
$outlog = '/home/rupert/logs/teralogs/output/swiftlog.log';
$localuser = '';
Set data input and
holding locations.
open(SAVEOUT, ">&STDOUT");
open(SAVEERR, ">&STDERR");
open(STDOUT, ">$outlog")
|| die "Can't redirect stdout";
open(STDERR, ">&STDOUT") || die "Can't dup stdout";
select(STDERR); $| = 1; Open files for
select(STDOUT); $| = 1;