Smart city making? The spread of ICT-driven plans and infrastructures in Nairobi

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Abstract

Since the late 2000s, the city of Nairobi in Kenya has become a focal point of large-scale and ambitious technology-driven city making processes and ambitions. In this study, we draw upon observations, interviews, and policy analysis to examine processes of city making and the spread of ICT-driven infrastructures, juxtaposing ambitious visions of emergent plans with ordinary realities of the African city. We demonstrate that while processes of smart city making have strongly been inclined toward technocratic approaches and deterministic appeals, this inclination is highly deceptive. We argue that rather than being deterministic, these processes are essentially politicized, highly contested, and shaped by the role and impact of local practices and context-specific realities. In making this argument, we draw from a social studies of technology perspective which engages with the notion of technological determinism to make this contribution to the academic field of critical urbanism.

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Guma, P. K., & Monstadt, J. (2021). Smart city making? The spread of ICT-driven plans and infrastructures in Nairobi. Urban Geography, 42(3), 360–381. https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2020.1715050

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