The Role and Distribution of ICTs in MSE Development: A Case Study of Kariokor Informal Sector Cluster

Information exchange triggers dynamism that in turn causes mobilization and activity within the society in general. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has become a vital and integral component of both socio-economic development and infrastructure of any country. Thus underscoring the need for its cost-effective availability in every sector of development.

Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), such as the World Wide Web, e-mail, telephones, fax and satellites are revolutionizing the way in which societies interact, conduct their businesses, compete in international markets and set their economic and human development agendas. ICTs can enable societies to produce, access, adapt and apply greater amounts of information, more rapidly and at reduced costs, and offer enormous opportunities for enhancing business productivity and economic activity. ICTs can also contribute toward increasing social participation, competing in the global market place and removing barriers to modernization, making poor populations fuller agents in the sustainable developmental process. However, with the rapid introduction of these technologies in our economy, the gap between formal and informal sector is widening and alarming.

Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) also known as informal sector contribute significantly to employment thus providing families with income and it also creates an enabling environment for the purchase of essential goods and services. The study recognizes the difficulty this sector has, especially on direct access to ICTs. The number of ICTs services provided for them is not enough and the few which are available are haphazardly located, hence poorly utilised or neglected. In line with this argument the study endeavour to take Kariokor cluster as a case of illustration of how location of ICTs affects utilisation of the ICTs and on the same note look at the potential of ICTs as a business development tool and as a solution to distance barrier.

The study's findings are that location of ICTs services is a significant utilization factor. It also found that MSEs are interested with local information and content and not global, thus usage of ICTs which can help them access local market is highly acceptable. Finding's also indicate that there are still strong influences of social network to provide the entrepreneurs with information which tend to be oral in nature and in relation to this, due to over reliance on face to face interaction by MSEs it becomes very hard to link ICTs utilization and MSEs business performance of ICTs. There is extensive use of telephone in this cluster as opposed to other ICTs services such as internet, where application of oral prowess is not needed. Related to these findings is that MSB cluster operators are willing to pay for information and embrace technology that they believe can improve their businesses.

The study concluded that there is need to prevent further marginalisation of the MSEs by availing ICTs services which are mixed appropriately and also properly located viz-a-viz MSEs activities. This will help them access to markets and other business information which facilitate or make their economic activities more vibrant and facilitate availability of information about new opportunities to be more accessible to them.

 

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