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Mobile Phone Technology: A Transformative Technology for Business or Pleasure? A Study of Urban Micro-Entrepreneurs in Kumasi, Ghana

While living in Kumasi, Ghana it soon became apparent there is no escaping mobile phones! It seemed everyone had and used a mobile phone. It was intriguing how the mobile phone, a technology so familiar, was being used differently to suit the local context. I began to consider how this technology has changed society and is creating new income generating opportunities for some. This led me to wonder if the mobile phone was actually transforming processes for micro-entrepreneurs and proving of benefit, or merely an extra operating cost.

In order to gain an insight into these questions I travelled to Kumasi and interviewed twelve micro-entrepreneurs. I asked them about their mobile phone use, any difficulties they experienced in acquiring a mobile phone and the opportunities and challenges they associate with their use of mobile phones.

The micro-entrepreneurs in this study could access and own at least one mobile phone each with the majority using more than one line. Mobile phone use revolves around calling and texting mainly, and interest in more advanced applications such as the internet and m-banking is limited. The mobile phone impacts both the operational efficiency and effectiveness of the micro-enterprise: by providing new and improved ways of carrying out day-to-day activities. A major perceived benefit is the time and monetary savings associated with mobile phone use. Challenges are also highlighted particularly poor network service which is deemed to hinder business by all.

Mobile phones offer opportunities to do old things differently and significantly opportunities to do new things, such as extend into new markets, and so based on this research can be considered a transformative technology for the urban micro-entrepreneurs in Kumasi, Ghana interviewed.


Frances Wallace (2010)


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