Hustling Day in Silicon Savannah

Datafication and Digital Rights in East Africa Comic


What lies behind the captivating "Silicon Savannah" brand, with which Kenya has drawn the interest of international investors and donors to its booming tech scene?

Dr Gianluca Iazzolino


View the comic here or scroll down below.

The “Hustling Day in Silicon Savannah” comic has been funded by the UKRI DIDA grant “Datafication and Digital Rights in East Africa”, which focused on the socio-economic implications of digital technologies in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.  

The story is based on research that the authors have conducted in Kenya, in different roles and from different angles, for the past ten years. During this period, while witnessing the emergence and transformations of Kenya’s digital economy, the hype over narratives of digitally-driven socio-economic inclusion has peaked and cooled.  

In our cartoon, we wanted to address the question: what does lie behind the captivating “Silicon Savannah” brand, with which Kenya has drawn the interest of international investors and donors to its booming tech scene? As we suggest in this cartoon, the picture is anything but neat.  

The two main characters of our story – a taxi driver working for a ride-hailing platform and a broker of fruit and vegetables – are based on several Kenyans we met during our fieldwork in and around Nairobi. We follow their paths until the storylines intersect and (literally) collide. Our characters embody what dominant Silicon Savannah narratives often neglect: how digital technologies reshape the practice and the significance of hustling.  

As we suggest in our story, the promises of job creation on digital platforms have been shattered by workers’ over-indebtedness and, as recently shown by the so-called Uber files, a gradual deterioration of working conditions. At the same time, far from Nairobi’s glitzy corporate headquarters, there is evidence that local entrepreneurs have appropriated digital innovation and adapted it to their needs. 

Please see the Datafication and Digital Rights in East Africa project website for more information about the project, its research and contributions from team members and network partners. 

If you want to know more about the reseach behind this cartoon, check out this article by Gianluca Iazzolino. 

View the comic here or scroll down below.

Story by Gianluca Iazzolino and Michael Kimani 

Art by Maddo - Cartoon Movement













This comic was created by Cartoon Movement, a publishing platform for high quality editorial cartoons and comics journalism from all over the globe.