An empirical study on the effects of mobile telephony usage on livelihoods in Brong Ahafo region of Ghana
Meaningful use of mobile telephony can enhance human development and capabilities thereby empowering people to lead lives they value. They are enabling technologies to deliver human-centred development. This article explores the effects of mobile phone use on livelihoods of users in eight districts in Brong Ahafo region of Ghana. A mixed method approach was employed and qualitative research was used as a dominant paradigm. Interview questionnaires, focus group discussions and observation were used. The study showed that mobile phone ownership was high and their uses were characterised by greater uniformity across socio-economic groups and gender. Mobile phones enhanced traditional structures, facilitated business links, and face-to-face interactions as well as strengthening community ties. Users acknowledged the impact of mobile phones in their ability to deal with family emergencies. Poor network connectivity and power outages were major obstacles to mobile phone usage. The study makes original contributions to the knowledge of practical relevance in the ICT4D field as well as with respect to these under-researched Ghanaian regions and provides evidence for policy formulation to improve quality of services in Ghana and elsewhere. The participatory Field Research also provided space for in-depth engagement with local people to understand the technology in social and development contexts.