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Between ACC and the field: a reflection on two years of learning

8 February, 2023 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm SAST

ACC invites you to join us as researcher Andrea Pollio reflects on his time as Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow jointly at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, and at the department of Urban and Regional Studies (DIST) at the Polytechnic of Turin. Andrea‘s talk will draw insights and lessons from his fieldwork on tech investment in Nairobi and his institutional embeddedness at ACC. Prof. Nancy Odendaal (Head of Department for the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics) and Alicia Fortuin (Researcher, ACC) will act as respondents. 

 

Once overlooked in discussions about the emerging geopolitics of infrastructure, cities in the global south are now recognised as sites where competing great powers materialise their diplomatic and geoeconomic interests through the financing of infrastructure systems such as railway corridors and ports. Yet these cities, African cities in particular, also play a vital role as testbeds of new technological standards in the scramble for digital infrastructure. From the operating systems of affordable smartphones, to the inaccessible server rooms of national data centers, booming African capitals like Nairobi are the experimental edge of a shift towards China in the technopolitics of the so-called ‘4th Industrial Revolution’.

To illustrate this point, his presentation draws upon an ongoing research project about the presence of Chinese technology companies, start-ups and investors in Nairobi, one of Africa’s so-called Silicon Savannahs and one of the continent’s most acclaimed digital innovation scenes. The talk will combine insights from his fieldwork in Kenya with what Andrea’s learnt at the African Centre for Cities, through his institutional embeddedness and the possibilities that were offered by the centre’s agendas and networks.

WHEN | Wednesday, 8 February 2023
TIME | 15:30-17:00, with light refreshments served after
VENUE | Studio 5, Environmental and Geographical Sciences Building, Upper Campus, University of Cape Town

BIOGRAPHY
Andrea Pollio is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow jointly at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, and at the department of Urban and Regional Studies (DIST) at the Polytechnic of Turin. His research interests are situated at the intersection of Science and Technology Studies (STS), urban studies and development economics. His published works mostly address the interface between technology, development and urbanization in Africa. Andrea’s current book project charts the landing of private Chinese technology capital in Nairobi’s Silicon Savannah.

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8 February, 2023
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3:30 pm - 5:00 pm SAST
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