"He who dreams creates" - R.I.P Ashif Malamba.
African countries in the last decade have been able to build some buffers and now have resilience that has allowed steady growth in the region - even in times of world economic crisis. During the 2008-2009 economic crisis, African countries continued to show economic growth. This shows that we have finally managed to creatively use all the tools available in our macroeconomic tool kit.
External shocks have been mitigated by shifting economies from natural resource commodities to locally-driven growth. The right kind of policies have led to investments particularly in industries newly integrating innovative mobile technology. Now, Africa is globally trailblazing the path as the leader in mobile tech across industries such as banking, energy, healthcare, agriculture, governance, enterprise. This has been made possible by the high mobile phone penetration in African countries, which in countries like South Africa and Kenya is equal to that of the United States.
So why am I writing this blog today? Art and Tech both deal with design. In Kenya, the creative culture - epitomized by the booming contemporary art scene - is helping East Africa edge out the world when it comes to designing innovative technologies for the people. In places like Kibera slum, Ashif's home, mobile technologies like MPESA have bolstered the informal economy of this large slum. Anyone with a phone automatically has a bank account and can make immediate transactions on the spot. Ashif's collective, Maasai Mbili, have all benefited from their creative talent because of increased liquidity brought about by mobile money. Art and STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) are two sides of the same coin. The combination of Art and Technology to bolster design will bring about solutions to significant problems facing the continent such as economic inequality, energy expansion, regional collaboration, monetary policies, and governance.
The video below is a celebration of our fallen comrade, Ashif Malamba. Ashif approached street art with an energetic experimental methodology that always guaranteed community engagement at home and beyond. He will be missed by the Kenyan art community. I remember his wise words, "he who dreams creates."
Rest in peace, brotha Ashif.
Ashif Malamba outside his studio in Kibera.