(University of Strathclyde)
Paper long abstract:
This paper discusses how demand for, and use of communication technologies can be interpreted as being derived from a demand for information. The article demonstrates that telecommunication networks facilitate the flow of information which is then subsequently used by individuals both commercially as well as socially. The characteristic of information is therefore crucial to understanding the impact telecom technologies can have on socio-economic activities of users. The article classifies information into ‘public’ and ‘private’ (i.e. information that can/cannot be easily codified) and discusses its impact via a case study of a specific micro-enterprise.
Growth in the case industry is hampered by limited availability of public information. This type of information stimulates trade and drives innovation. At the same time the existence of information asymmetries are critical to the income generating abilities of individuals/firms in this industry. The availability of communication technologies presents opportunities for increasing accessibility to both types of information; however, the case study illustrates the need for balance between lack of (public) information that destroys an industry and the level of (private) information that maintains its viability.
ICTs and development in Africa