n Mousaion - Improving information use by SMEs in Northern Uganda through information and communication technologies (ICTs)
|Article Title||Improving information use by SMEs in Northern Uganda through information and communication technologies (ICTs)|
|© Publisher:||UNISA Press|
|Author||Constant Okello-Obura, Mabel K. Minishi-Majanja, Linda Cloete and J.R. Ikoja-Odongo|
|Publication Date||Jan 2008|
|Pages||126 - 149|
|Keyword(s)||Business information services, Information and Communication Technologies, Internet utilization, Northern Uganda, Small Scale Business Enterprises and SMEs|
Uganda's economy has great potential. Endowed with significant natural resources, including ample fertile land, regular rainfall, and mineral deposits, it appeared poised for rapid economic growth and development at independence. However, chronic political instability and erratic economic management produced a record of persistent economic decline that left Uganda among the world's poorest and least-developed countries (United States, Bureau of African Affairs 2007). Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have an important role in uplifting the economic standards of the majority of poor people because such enterprises involve little financial investment but much time and effort. The success of SMEs requires investment and use of ICTs, especially the internet, which has become a vital platform for both business information and transactions. Based on the above premise, a study was conducted to establish the ICTs application by SMEs in business transactions in northern Uganda. Using a quantitative descriptive survey design, the study solicited the views of SME managers, information providers and business policy makers in northern Uganda. Both questionnaires and interviews were used as data collection instruments. The aim was to obtain data regarding the ICTs used for business operations, usefulness of different ICTs for business operations, the ICT skills of SMEs business managers, ICTs utilisation for business information access and problems faced in internet utilisation for business and information transactions. This paper reports some of the interesting findings on ICTs utilisation especially the internet in this disadvantaged region of Uganda. Mainly is the fact that SMEs in northern Uganda are lagging behind the trend of applying ICTs to access, use and share pertinent business information. As such they are disadvantage in the current world of e-commerce and web presence. A number of problems that hinder fast-tracking these enterprises into mainstream ICT usage need to be urgently attended to. The study recommends the establishment of integrated ICTs based business information provision strategy that should include: telephone text services, client's based services, interactive business planner, online small business workshops, e-mail services and Talk to Business Information Systems services.
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