The impact of Mobile Phone technology on Socio-Economic developement in Urban slums: a study of mobile phone users within Kibera Slum, Nairobi County
Globally, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have proved to be a key driver of socio-economic progress and development, enhancing productivity and therefore economic growth, reducing poverty and improving living standards in many ways. The mobile phone, specifically, has emerged as one of the most dynamic forms of ICTs in the 21st century. The diffusion and adoption of mobile phone technology and its applications is changing well established and traditional patterns of human interaction in many societies. In addition, this gadget has not only become a conduit for economic development in various sectors of the world's economy but also in the personal lives of its users. The main objective of this study was to assess the impact of the adoption of mobile phone technology on of socio-economic development in urban slums. It was extrapolated from the reviewed literature and general observation. More specifically, the study sought to find out the impact mobile phone usage has on social interaction, premised on the promotion of socioeconomic welfare, besides fostering entrepreneurship, within Kibera slum, in Nairobi County. The reviewed literature revealed various dynamics regarding the diffusion and adoption of mobile phone technology in low-income communities such as Kibera, and how these dynamics impact social interaction and entrepreneurship within these communities. The research design primarily took a mixed methods approach, where both quantitative and qualitative methods were incorporated in the research design, so as to augment the representativeness and validity of the findings. Following the analysis of the study's findings, it was concluded that the adoption of mobile phone technology within Kibera slum, has indeed had a direct and positive impact on social interaction and entrepreneurship in the area. The study showed that resulting from the adoption of mobile phone technology, Kibera residents had become more social, had less conflicts at work and better relationships with their colleagues and children. They also felt safer and more secure and were able to reduce the number of times they traveled to their rural areas to visit relatives. When making the decision to purchase a mobile phone, Kibera residents, to a great extent valued brand, quality, ease of use and the availability of after-sale services. They were willing to spend between Kshs 4,000/= and Kshs. 9,000/= to acquire a handset, but preferred to do so on credit and for a pre-paid tariff. They mainly used they phone to communicate with friends, family and colleagues and also for mobile money transfer. The residents also said that they had benefited financially from the introduction of mobile phone. It was recommended that, to further encourage the rapid adoption of technology, stakeholders in the information and communication technologies sector should endeavour to introduce low-cost technologies, similar to the mobile phone, which foster development in low-income communities. Further, mobile phone service providers were urged to incorporate training on entrepreneurship into their corporate social responsibility. This training should be aimed at equipping entrepreneurs in urban slums, who sell mobile phone products or services, with knowledge and skills which will enhance their business productivity. Consequently, enhanced productivity will translate into better standards of living, increased employment opportunities and eventually, poverty reduction.