Project Year



East Africa


Kenya, Uganda

Project Description

This research proposal focuses on Somali financial flows between Kenya and Uganda. In particular, it examines the interplay between mobile money and Somali financial institutions in the transnational space between Nairobi and Kampala. The study unfolds between Eastleigh, a Nairobi-based estate, and Kisenyi, Kampala, two major hubs of the East African Somali diaspora. It will examine the little explored aspect of Kenya’s Safaricom M-Pesa usage across borders and the implications of its partnership with MTN, a Ugandan telecom, for Somali refugees and small traders (categories that often overlap). The study will also examine the relations of alternativeness and complementarity of mobile money with hawala, a widespread Somali money transfer network, and hagbed, or self-help groups. This research seeks to answer the following questions: how are new technology-driven financial products integrated within pre-existing monetary ecosystems? How do new monetary practices shape institutional and social relations, and how are they shaped in return? Using ethnographic methods of data collection, the researchers hope to contribute with their findings to the scholarship on how emerging monetary media are changing established ideas of money, financial practices, and processes of valuation.


Gianluca Iazzolino

About the Researcher(s)

IazzolinoGianluca Iazzolino is a PhD candidate at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Previously, he worked as a producer and freelance journalist in Africa, the Middle East, Russia, India, and Central America, and he has worked for Italian NGOs in Italy and Latin America. He also holds a MA in Communication from the University of Turin and a MSc in Conflict Resolution and Governance from the University of Amsterdam.




Synopsis of Results

1. Read Gianluca's final report: "Contingency Routes: Somali Flows and Transnational Spaces between Kenya and Uganda."

2. Read Gianluca's blog post.


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