SUNScholar will be offline for maintenance from 10:00 SAST on Wednesday the 21st of November 2018.

The economic and social effects of mobile phone usage: the case of women traders in Accra

Ussher, Yvette A. A. (2015-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Research on the impact of mobile phones – and associated information and communication technologies (ICTs) – on micro and small enterprises (MSEs) is on the ascendancy in the contemporary “ICT for Development” (ICT4D) scholarship milieu. There have however been relatively few studies focusing on both access and the quality of mobile phone use in the informal MSE sector. This is particularly conspicuous in the case of Ghana, where there is not much research on the impact of mobile phones on the businesses and lives of informal micro-traders. This thesis explores the manner in which women micro-traders have integrated mobile phones into their businesses and how this has affected their lives. The research takes the form of a multi-sited case study and uses semi-structured interviews and participant observation to explore patterns of mobile phone use among women in four markets in Accra – Makola, Agbogbloshie, Kaneshie and Madina. The study focuses specifically on micro-traders working in the wholesale and retail markets for vegetables and textiles. Two broad conclusions follow from this research. Firstly, at the level of individual experiences, the women traders recount how mobile phones have become indispensable to their trading activities. The study finds that mobile phones improved the working routine of the women in a number of ways: by improving the exchange of market information (via calls and to some extent texting); by enhancing the coordination of micro-trading activities; by strengthening relationships and trust within trading networks; and by helping to reduce transactional and transportation costs. The effects of mobile phones on these women’s micro-trading activities have extended positively into their social lives. As profit margins have increased and costs have been reduced, the resulting improvement with respect to incomes has enabled these women to attain an improved ‘self-image’ and a new level of socio-economic status within the informal economy of Accra. Secondly, notwithstanding the benefits reported by the women micro-traders, the study also suggests wider patterns associated with digital inequality. The women had limited technological knowledge of their mobile phones, and made limited use of more advanced mobile services, such as mobile money transfer and mobile banking. These patterns are explained in terms of inequality with respect to various forms of literacy: basic language literacy; technical literacy; and information literacy. Key dimensions of inequality include age/intergenerational differences and educational differences. While the study explores these patterns of inequality with respect to mobile phone use, it concludes by arguing that the integration of mobile phones into micro-trading has introduced some formality into the domain of informal micro-trading in Accra. Stellenbosch University

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Navorsing oor die invloed van drafone – en verwante inligting- en kommunikasietegnologieë (IKT’s) – op mikro- en kleinskaalondernemings (MKO’s) is aan die toeneem in die hedendaagse “IKT vir Ontwikkeling”- (ICT4D-) studieomgewing. Daar bestaan nietemin betreklik min studies wat op sowel toegang tot en gehalte van drafoongebruik in die informele MKO-sektor fokus. Dit is veral opvallend in die geval van Ghana waar min navorsing bestaan oor die invloed van drafone op sakeondernemings en op die lewens van informele mikro-handelaars. Hierdie tesis ondersoek die wyse waarop vroulike mikro-handelaars drafone in hul ondernemings geïntegreer het en hoe dit hul lewens beïnvloed het. Die navorsing neem die vorm aan van ’n multi-omgewing-gevallestudie en gebruik semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude en deelnemerwaarneming om patrone van drafoongebruik onder vroue in vier marksektore in Accra – Makola, Agbogbloshie, Kaneshie en Madina – te verken. Die studie fokus in die besonder op mikro-handelaars wat in die groothandel- en kleinhandelmarkte vir groente en tekstielware werksaam is. Die navorsing kom tot twee breë gevolgtrekkings. Eerstens, op die vlak van individuele ervarings, het die vroulike handelaars vertel hoe onmisbaar drafone vir hul handelsaktiwiteite geraak het. Die studie bevind dat drafone die werkroetine van die vroue op verskeie maniere verbeter het: deur die uitruil van markinligting te verbeter (via oproepe en in ’n sekere mate teksboodskappe); deur die koördinasie van mikro-handelsaktiwiteite te verfyn; deur verhoudings en vertroue binne handelsnetwerke te versterk; en deur te help om transaksie- en vervoerkoste te verlaag. Die invloed van drafone op hierdie vroue se mikro-handelsaktiwiteite het ook positief bygedra tot hul sosiale lewens. Soos winsgrense verhoog en koste verlaag het, het die gevolglike styging in inkomste hierdie vroue in staat gestel om ’n beter “selfbeeld” en ’n nuwe vlak van sosio-ekonomiese status binne die informele ekonomie van Accra te verkry. Ondanks die voordele wat deur die vroulike mikro-handelaars gerapporteer is, het die studie tweedens gedui op omvattender patrone wat met digitale ongelykheid geassosieer word. Die vroue het beperkte tegnologiese kennis van hul drafone en het beperkte gebruik gemaak van meer gevorderde drafoondienste, soos geldoordrag en banksake deur middel van drafone. Hierdie patrone word verklaar in terme van ongelykheid met betrekking tot verskeie vorme Stellenbosch University https://scholar.sun.ac.za xxi van geletterdheid: basiese taalgeletterdheid, tegniese geletterdheid en inligtingsgeletterdheid. Sleuteldimensies van ongelykheid sluit ouderdom-/intergenerasie-verskille en opvoedingsverskille in. Alhoewel die studie hierdie patrone van ongelykheid met betrekking tot drafoongebruik verken, betoog dit ten slotte dat die integrasie van drafone in mikro-handel ’n mate van formaliteit in die domein van informele mikro-handel in Accra tot stand gebring het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97706
This item appears in the following collections: