Thom Ogonga, Kabete Series, charcoal and chalk pastel on paper, 24" x 16.5"
I had the chance to sit down with Dr. Kweku Opoku-Agyemang who works on the political economy of development. He studies how both economic and political factors affect social change, with a current emphasis on technological innovations.
According to Kweku, mobile phones have now availed African governments an easy way to collect data from the people by using mobile phone surveys - both voice and text messages, but with particular focus on voice survey because of its ability to reach all regardless of literacy status. Kweku's research shows that democracy can be greatly improved by governments crafting policies in tune with the desires of the people.
On the NGO/Development front, surveys can help give the community a voice in various development initiatives in Africa. Kweku also reiterated that the mobile survey platform is now effectively being used by companies in the continent for real-time data from their supply chain or field operations, giving workers and farmers a voice to report on conditions in their workplace or community.
Thom Ogonga's work (see above) is a depiction of young Nairobians who live in Kabete, a college town that is home to the University of Nairobi Business School. Kweku says that this new generation of Africans is asking questions and making the effort of solving the questions themselves. Tech is the hands of these powerful changemakers but he also warns us that it is only as powerful as the people make it.
Mugo Chats with Political Economist Dr. Kweku Opoku-Agyemang