The Trust Seminar

Many countries on the African continent are building powerful new biometric population registration systems. Often matched with credit scoring regulations and digital payment systems, these tools are designed to have powerful effects on finance. The advocates of these systems describe them as trust infrastructures, mainly because they can be used to simplify payments and strengthen credit distribution in the context of unreliable identification and collateral systems. Trust is important, but it is also complicated and difficult. These identification infrastructures are having powerful effects on credit distributions; they also affect African states’ abilities to raise tax, register property, expand welfare systems and issue local currency debts. They can serve as potent drivers of exclusion, both in the credit market and in society. The identification systems are hardening claims to citizenship and mobility, and encouraging the strict individualization of credit (at the cost of firms and families). Perhaps the most obvious problem – clearly visible in the case of Safaricom in Kenya and MTN in Nigeria – is that the new trust infrastructures trigger serious conflicts over the concentration and sharing of information (and profits) between banks and the dominant mobile network operators.

In this on-line seminar series we will examine how these trust infrastructures are working, and where they are failing, by reading short, clearly argued research papers from across the continent.

Time : 16:00 SA Time

Thursday, November 16, second Thursday of every month.

Please register on Zoom to join the series.

Papers in the Series:

Breckenridge, Keith.  "The measure of mistrust : rethinking the geopolitics of the barbarous relic." forthcoming 2024.

Dahdah, Marine Al. Mobile (for) Development: When Digital Giants Take Care of Poor Women. Cambridge University Press, 2022.

Kedir, Abbi, and Euphrasie Kouame. “FinTech and Women’s Entrepreneurship in Africa: The Case of Burkina Faso and Cameroon.” Journal of Cultural Economy 15, no. 4 (July 4, 2022): 452–67.

Hughes, Ailey Kaiser et al. “Harnessing Technology to Advance Citizen-Centric Land Administration in Rwanda.” African Journal on Land Policy and Geospatial Sciences 5, no. 2 (March 31, 2022): 344–54.

Eyenga, Georges Macaire "The Invention of 'Kumba Age’. How did individuals' age become dynamic in Cameroon?" forthcoming 2024

Klaaren, Jonathan " Changing Digital Identity Systems Across Africa:  A Sociotechnical and Political Economy Mapping of Digital Public Infrastructure."

Mader, Philip, Maren Duvendack, and Keir Macdonald. “Fintech and Tax in Sub-Saharan Africa: Taxation versus Financial Inclusion.” Journal of Cultural Economy 15, no. 4 (July 4, 2022): 488–507.

Tunde Okunoye "Carrot or Stick? Linking Nigeria’s National Identity Number (NIN) coerced
enrolment with Questions of a shared Nigerian Identity"

Sitas, R, L R Cirolia, A Pollio, A G Sebarenzi, P K Guma, and A Rajashekar. “Platform Politics and Silicon Savannahs : The Rise of on-Demand Logistics and Mobility in Nairobi and Kigali.” Cape Town: African Centre for Cities, 2022.

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