Loughborough University
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Mobile phones' contributions to socio-economic development according to Sen: corn growers' perceived impact in the Congo

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posted on 2016-11-01, 14:19 authored by Sylvain Cibangu
Research questions This research was focused on exploring the impact of communication technologies on rural populations in the Congo. In particular, this research posed two questions: 1. Do mobile phones produce development in rural areas of the Congo? 2. Do mobile phones improve the living conditions of people? The questions helped examine ways in which mobile phones were or were not engendering development among these populations. Methods The research was undertaken using four methods: 1. Phenomenology, 2. Sen s capability approach, 3. Participatory method, and 4. Ecological method Phenomenology aimed to cater to the experiences and meanings of mobile phone uses. Sen s capability approach allowed the interviews to be focused on the basic needs of the poor. Participatory method provided a greater participation of respondents in discussion groups, and ecological method helped achieve a higher inclusion of key players in the targeted area. Major findings The major findings of this study included: 1. Much of the literature on mobile phones and development was not representative or inclusive of key players and their day-to-day lives. 2. Studies have tended to present snapshots or single-focused accounts of mobile phone and development. 3. Authors of mobile phone research have tended to see rural populations with an urban-led bias, leaving aside the actual characteristics of rural areas. 4. Mobile phones were not limited to a person and her properties, but rather mobile phones were owned and shared by the community. 5. Participants expressed a need for technical skills and means to be available to the community and their members. 6. Households were not separated, but rather they were connected to allow people take care of one another. 7. People were connected through collective solidarities in order to come to the aid of those with special needs. 8. Literature and mobile phone sponsors or companies were disseminating mobile phones with an extractive and commercial tendency, focused principally on fees of batteries, chargers, and prepaid cards. Major contributions The major contributions of this research revolved around the focus on: 1. technology to enhance the needed technical skills among concerned populations. 2. shared ownership of mobile phones to cater to both users and non-users of mobile phones among concerned populations. 3. connected households to capitalize on the dynamics of family among concerned populations. 4. collective solidarities to accommodate the processes of aiding one another among concerned populations. 5. capabilities, from a commercial or extractive aspect to capabilities to enhance the capabilities of people to afford mobile phones fees. 6. capabilities, from a corporate or business aspect to capabilities to enhance the capabilities of people who did not and could not own a business. 7. human basic needs to enhance the capabilities of mobile phone users with regard to human basic needs. 8. outliers or the marginalized to attend to those left out among concerned populations. 9. mobile phone-centric libraries to enhance the storage and retrieval of needed information among concerned populations.





  • Business and Economics


  • Business


© Sylvain K. Cibangu

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.


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