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WOMEN & ICT in Ghana

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  • asif.daya@trainerspod.com
    Factors Influencing Information Delivery Technology Choice by Women in Deprived Regions in Ghana Olivia Kwapong Harvard University / University of Ghana
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5, 2007
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      Factors Influencing Information Delivery Technology Choice by

      Women in Deprived Regions in Ghana


      Olivia Kwapong

      Harvard University / University of Ghana

       
      Abstract

      Using a contingent valuation (CV) method to quantitatively estimate the influence of selected socio-economic factors on households’ willingness to pay for alternative information delivery technologies, the study intended to provide basic information regarding rural households’ willingness to pay for information delivery technologies.
      This study used rural household survey data collected from three administrative regions in Ghana to examine rural women’s willingness to pay for information delivered via three technologies – community radio, private radio, and extension agents.
      The primary objective of the study was to identify the critical factors to consider in planning and policy design in using ICT to provide information to empower rural women. While there were nontrivial regional variations, the overall results from this study point to household expenditures (used as proxy for income), household education, and membership in community organizations as the principal factors influencing rural women’s willingness to pay for the various technologies used in information delivery to women in rural areas in Ghana.
      The overriding conclusion that emerged from this study was the need to examine ICT use in empowering rural women within a ‘holistic’ context.


      Introduction

      There is broad consensus that ICT could play an important role to make development effective on a large scale for disadvantaged people. As pointed out by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “Over the last few years, a wide consensus has emerged on the potential of information and communications technologies (ICT) to promote economic growth, combat poverty, and facilitate the integration of developing countries into the global economy. Seizing the opportunities of the digital revolution is one of the most pressing challenges we face” (Annan, 2002).

      Ghana has responded to the ICT challenge. In 2003, Ghana announced the Ghana Integrated ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy, which summarized the vision of Ghana in the information age. While the policy outlines a broad array of objectives, it is clear that the core of the policy is to use ICT to achieve Ghana’s vision of becoming a middle-income country by the year 2020. Despite the wide recognition of the role of ICT in national development, the development of a successful ICT program to accelerate empowerment of women in Ghana is beset by several institutional, technical, political, economic and social problems.

      Probably the most daunting task facing policy makers in Ghana is making ICT available to the poorest population segments in the face of tight government budgets. ICT policies and programs are expensive to design and implement. Resources are needed for infrastructure and operational purposes. Given the pressure on the government’s budget, it may be necessary to solicit contributions from rural households, a rather difficult proposition given household income levels in the poorest rural areas. Furthermore ICT use depends on the socio-economic characteristics of rural households. Yet the ongoing policy debate concerning ICT in empowering rural households seems tilted to the belief that all Ghana needs is to make ICT available and rural households will jump at the opportunity. A credible and sustainable ICT policy to empower women in rural Ghana should consider the socio-economic characteristics of households, including a determination of their willingness to pay for alternative ICT technologies.

      This study uses a contingent valuation (CV) method to quantitatively estimate the influence of selected socio-economic factors on households’ willingness to pay for alternative information delivery technologies. CV methods have been applied to several public goods valuations in developing countries. For example, Thobani (1983) and Tan et. al. (1984) used the approach to study payments for education services; Boadu (1993) for rural water supply and Haba (2004) for rural information services. Even though the method does not answer several important questions including ability to pay and equity concerns, it has been widely regarded as a useful tool to help planners gain some understanding in establishing basic financing guidelines in the provision of public goods. This study is intended to provide basic information regarding rural female households’ willingness to pay for information delivery technologies.

      Model and Statistical Estimation

      A multiple linear regression relationship was assumed between the dependent variable and the independent variables. The following factors were hypothesized to influence a household’s willingness to pay for a selected technology:

      1. Income:

      It is difficult to predict the effect of income on the willingness to pay for ICT in rural households. Generally, a positive relationship between income and the willingness to pay for ICT is expected. Households with high incomes tend to spend a smaller proportion of income on food while poorer households spend a higher proportion of income on food. Thus, one would expect the effect of income on ICT choice to be positive in the relatively richer regions. Furthermore, one would expect households with high incomes to use private radios instead of community radios in receiving information. One could argue that even though poorer households spend a higher proportion of income on food, their interest in obtaining information to ‘kick’ out poverty may encourage them to be willing to pay for ICT information.

      In practice though, there are no statistically significant differences in households’ willingness to pay across regions. In this sense, it is difficult to predict the exact sign (positive or negative) on the income variable, and the issue is left to empirical determination. An indirect approach was used to obtain measures of income from rural households. Households were asked to list their major sources of income, and then inquired about their expenditure patterns. This was done due to the difficulty in obtaining direct income figures from households and also to capture the effect of transfers. These expenditure amounts were used as proxies for income. Rural savings is very low. The GLSS found that only about 13% of rural dwellers maintained any savings account so the expenditure figures are a plausible measure of the household financial situation in a given year. Indeed studies of willingness to pay for amenities in rural households have found direct rural income measures to be unreliable and have resorted to proxies to estimate income (Boadu, 1993).

      2. Education:

      Rural females have lower school attendance rates across all regions with the lowest rates recorded in the three northern regions (Northern, Upper West and Upper East). Generally, it is hypothesized that educated households will be willing to pay for any ICT media given the premium on information in decision making. While an illiterate household naturally would depend on the radio and extension visits for information, a literate household has the additional source of information delivered through extension bulletins, and other printed sources.

      3. Age:

      It is hypothesized that older households will be more willing to pay for community radio systems and extension visits. There are good reasons for this expectation. First, older households are likely to belong to community organizations and hence more comfortable with sharing the media. On the other hand, a young household is also likely to be less involved in community organizations, and may be more willing to pay for their own private radio system.

      4. Marital Status:

      The combined income effect of married couples is likely to encourage their willingness to pay for private radio information delivery technology. Oftentimes community organization activities are organized along gender lines and there is not much joint community activities between men and women. Thus, information delivery via community radio or extension services would be less attractive to married households. A plausible hypothesis is that married households will be more likely to pay for private radio, and are unlikely to pay for extension information or community radio.

      5. Household Size:

      The household is defined to include all persons who are under the direct responsibility of the female respondent. At a given income level, large households are less likely to pay for private radios given the cost of these radios. Thus, large households will be more willing to pay for community radios and extension services, while small households are more likely to be willing to pay for private radios.

      6. Membership in Community Organizations:

      It is hypothesized that households that belong to a community organization will be willing to pay for information delivered via community radio. Community radio is cheaper than a private radio and more importantly, these households have cultivated the spirit of sharing through their membership in an organization. Table 2 shows that rural households make more contribution to community initiatives than do urban households. By analogy, it is hypothesized that households in the more deprived areas, especially in the northern regions will be more willing to pay for community radio and extension services compared to those rural communities located near the urbanized regions in Ghana such as Accra, Kumasi (Ashanti), Takoradi (Western), and Cape Coast (Central).

      Conclusion

      This study used rural household survey data collected from three administrative regions in Ghana to examine rural women’s willingness to pay for information delivered via three technologies – community radio, private radio, and extension agents. The primary objective in the study was to identify the critical factors to consider in planning and policy design in using ICT to provide information to empower rural women. While there were nontrivial regional variations, the overall results from this study point to household expenditures (used as proxy for income), household education, and membership in community organizations as the principal factors influencing rural women’s willingness to pay for the various technologies used in information delivery to women in rural areas in Ghana. The overriding conclusion that emerges from this study is the need to examine ICT use in empowering rural women within a ‘holistic’ context. No single socio-economic factor emerged as the ‘magic bullet’ in planning policies and programmes to introduce ICT use in information delivery to rural women. Likewise, no single information delivery technology emerged as the technology to use in delivering information to rural women.

      Despite the lack of consistency in the regression results, several important policy and planning options are suggested by the results of this study. Because of the significance of income in ICT use in rural empowerment, there is a need to cast rural empowerment policies and programs within the broader poverty reduction policies of the government and also within the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). If the Government intends to focus on the attainment of the MDGs, then the education factor and the importance of community cohesiveness become more critical as shown by the statistical results.

      Focusing particularly on the income factor, there are at least two important issues to address. First, the relationship between ICT use and income must be seen as bi-directional. While high incomes make it possible for rural women to pay for the information delivery technology of choice, the delivered information, in turn, is intended to empower women to be able to make those decisions that would improve their welfare and incomes. A second implication of the statistical significance of the income factor is the need to broaden policies to enhance the many possible sources of income available to rural women. Even though the popular view has been to focus on agriculture as the primary source of raising incomes of rural women, the survey results point to a need to broaden the scope of an income policy in rural areas to tap into non-agricultural sources.

       
      Asif
       

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      From: asif.daya@... [mailto:asif.daya@...]
      Sent: Monday, November 05, 2007 12:47 PM
      To: 'learningfromeachother@yahoogroups.com'
      Subject: RE: [learningfromeachother] Re: Upwardly Mobile Africa (report on ICTs Summit in Rwanda, w/focus on mobile p

      The Ugandan government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have extended a ceasefire due to expire at the end of November by three months to give both sides time to finalise a comprehensive deal to end two decades of devastating conflict.
       
      Asif
       

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      "In times of change, learners inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists." - Eric Hoffer

       


      From: learningfromeachother@yahoogroups.com [mailto:learningfromeachother@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of fdkayiwa
      Sent: Friday, November 02, 2007 5:15 AM
      To: learningfromeachother@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [learningfromeachother] Re: Upwardly Mobile Africa (report on ICTs Summit in Rwanda, w/focus on mobile p

      --Thanks for this information guys

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