ICT PATHWAYS AS CATALYSTS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL ENTERPRISES IN RWANDA: EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE FROM FOUR DISTRICTS
Abstract: This study was set out to establish the impact of ICT usage on small businesses development in rural Rwanda; investigate whether there is a need of accessing business information using ICT and find out what kinds of gargets used to access such information. Secondly, find out to what extent ICT is used by small business people in rural areas and find out the Government’s efforts in extending ICT infrastructure to rural areas, and whether the effort, resources committed is worthy the ICT uptake by the rural communities. The study also was set out to establish the relationship between the rural business growth and ICT access by rural small business people who use it. The study was a descriptive survey design that used both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The study population included forty participants who were small business people from four rural districts but excluding district information officers/administrators who were subjected to an interview guide that helped the research to locate and identify 10 rural based business people from each district under study. Ten respondents who were selected from each of four Districts answered questionnaires. The research questions probed about the need of accessing business information using ICT, what kinds of ICT gargets available to rural small business people to aid them access business information and also research questions probed about the information deficit between the information accessed and information needed. The research findings indicate that the ICT infrastructure do exists in the districts though not extensive and rural business people are aware of the same but they do not fully utilize it despite advantages associated with it, the reason being the cost of access of using ICT and lack of knowledge to use it. This means that rural small business people are disadvantaged and lack the basic skills required to harness the benefits of ICTs. However the study showed that those who use ICT to access necessary business information have ripped benefits than those who do not. Those who use ICT in accessing information were found to be between 25~35 years which suggested that only young people have embraced ICT. It was concluded that; ICT usage is till limited and government should step in to build infrastructure, increase the degree of awareness and offer ICT usage incentives as it does not make economic sense for private investors to go into rural ICT investment. It was recommended that; there should be training and assessment of usability to promote rural adaptation of ICT. Have in place procedures on how to achieve ICT policies contained in NICI Plans in order to realize vision 2020 targets. Government should set up vocational training schools that offer trainers courses and introduce adult ICT education training for rural population. Subsidize more ICT access cost to make it affordable for everyone who wishes to utilize ICT services. Government should make it a priority of having ICT available, accessible and affordable to everybody. Government should use appropriate technology in rural electrification program that is simple to achieve and provide power that is necessary for internet connectivity. There is therefore a need for broad-based and equitable access to ICTs in rural areas consistent with ongoing processes of decentralization, democratization and policy revisions that take into account of good governance considerations.
[Kokundeka Annet, Mbabazi Mbabazize and Jaya Shukla (2014); ICT PATHWAYS AS CATALYSTS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL ENTERPRISES IN RWANDA: EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE FROM FOUR DISTRICTS Int. J. of Adv. Res. 2 (12). 0] (ISSN 2320-5407). www.journalijar.com
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