Rossiello sees bitcoin as a way to spark not just a financial revolution in Kenya, but a technological one as well. The idea is that cryptocurrency fosters innovation, as we’ve seen in San Francisco and other places. She has started a meetup culture and teaches coding to schoolchildren. Five people were at her first meetup; six months later, there were 40, and they were doing coding and coming up with their own apps. “People are responding, people are excited about it,” she says.
As is the case with all efforts of outsiders attempting to better the lives of distant people, an uneasy awareness exists of the legacy of colonialism and the fine line between assistance and paternalism. It’s important to resist the impulse to view cryptocurrencies’ technology, oranytechnology, asapanacea. Forallthepromisethat technology holds—this idea that developing nations are going to “leapfrog” decades of development thanks to cheap, distributed, decentralized technology—the reality on the ground resists easy solutions. What M-Pesa has achieved, and what BitPesa promises, matter because they are effective tools for promoting economic activity, and thus development. This is why the stories coming out of Silicon Savannah are important—not only for Kenya but for the developing world as a whole. “There’s a much bigger story here,” Rossiello says. “We’re just getting started.”
From The Age of Cryptocurrency by Paul Vigna and Michael J . Casey . Copyright © 2015 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St . Martin’s Press, LLC .