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Title: Mobile phones and changes in people's activities in rural Tanzania
Author: France, Process Albogast
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2013
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The main objective of this research study is to determine the extent to which mobile phone services are influencing the changes in people's activities in rural Tanzania. Tanzania, as with other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, has experienced an incredible increase in mobile phone usage from almost zero at the beginning of 2000 to some 13 million users by July 2009. Mobile phones are even in use in 'resource poor' areas, where many people struggle with their daily lives. However, there are questions as to whether mobile phones help rural people to achieve their daily rural activities. Therefore, this study contributes to the understanding of mobile phone usage in rural areas and of how mobile phones can empower people in developing countries, particularly rural Tanzania. In total 237 people were approached for the research design. These people were selected from the four main activities found in rural Tanzania; small-scale business, livestock, fishing and mixed crop farming. The researcher used a mixed methods approach known as 'triangulation' to collect both quantitative and qualitative data from Dodoma and Kagera regions. The data came from a mixture of semi-structured interviews, households, key informants, focus group discussions and individual interviews in all selected villages in both study regions and was recorded in paper diaries and audio and digital video recorders. The data was then transcribed into MS word files and analysed using NVivo 7 and SPSS-Software. This study noted changes in people's daily practice and use of mobile phone services in rural Tanzania. For instance, people can expand their social networks, save or spend less money by making arrangements using a mobile phone and are able to communicate and seek assistance more easily when emergencies happen. People are being exposed to a range of different opportunities by using mobile phones. The findings in this study not only show promising changes in people's general communication and transport arrangements, but also show that some people (in particularly women) are feeling more empowered through their access to mobile phone services. In addition, this research study found a higher proportion of those using mobile phone services spread evenly across the 16-21,22-27 and 34-39 age groups respectively. Following this were the 40-45 and 46 and above age groups, which both had average scores of those using mobile phone services. The research study also found that people involved in mixed crop farming activities had the least use for mobile phone services compared to the other farming categories. In addition to the benefits associated with mobile phones, this study also found some negative issues. These included an increase in the number of fake mobile phone handsets, the distribution of unsolicited materials, rumours about health concerns, mobile phone theft and the destruction of traditional norms. All these were perceived as the disadvantages of mobile phones. The findings also revealed the general rural hardships (low income, lack of farming, small business resources and lack of electricity), which undermine the perceived benefits of mobile phones. This study suggests that further investigation is needed into how the Government of Tanzania (and other developing countries) could use mobile phone services to establish two-way communication with people in rural areas, especially those who are seeking information that could empower them to develop their daily livelihood strategies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available