Mobile phones usage in rural Kenya for business a survey study in Machakos district
ICT has been cited as a factor for increased business income among the rural poor. As such it is expected that mobile would increase growth in income levels among the rural poor. In the course of the past ten years mobile penetration has gone from a few elites in Nairobi to 89% service coverage nationwide and 10 million estimated subscribers (CCK, 2009). Mobile phones are the most popular form of ICTamong the poor. The Kenya Bureau of Statistics (2009) estimates that close to half of Kenyans (46 %) currently live below the poverty line sustained by lessthan a dollar per day. The levels of income are expected to rise as the use0 mobile phone continues to increase in rural areas. It is assumed that mobile phone usage directly increases income levels, there still appears to be mixed feelings on the perceived benefits of mobile phones especially at the bottom poor. This research abandons all such assumptions of the impact of use of mobile phones on income levels and seeks to find out how phone users in Rural Kenya, Machakos District perceive the relationship between mobile phones and business income. This research sought to investigate mobile phone usage patterns among the poor; what the phones are used for, the source of income for mobile running expenses, use of mobile phones for business and information access. Questionnaires were administered to the respondents in Machakos district. The main questions asked addressed mobile phone usage and how this makes it easier to do business in rural areas and whether or not it contributes to business income among the rural poor Findings from the research indicated that mobile phones are supporting small scale business and peasant farmers in marketing and selling their products thereby increasing the income levels of the rural community. Mobile phone as an ICTtool is supporting the rural communities especially the women to get more customers and carry out business transactions effectively.