Beyond the mobile phone : The impact on livelihoods in rural Rwanda

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Many news reports and statistics on mobile phone ownership in Africa show us that there is a rapidly growing number of people that have a mobile phone in mainly urban, but also rural areas. Many research has already been conducted on the possibilities and applications that a mobile phone has to offer, but what does it really mean for the people who are living there? Therefore, this research focuses on people’s personal usage of the mobile phone and its impact on the development of their livelihoods. Theoretically speaking, because a mobile phone gives people the possibility to connect with different geographical places without actually going there, they are able to act in a new perception of space and time: the Space of Flows. The space of flows should be seen as the abstract translation of the compressed time and multidimensional space we live in nowadays due to information and communication technologies. The fieldwork was conducted in rural Rwanda, partly because of the RurbanAfrica project, wherein this study took place, and because the country has shown interesting social and economic dynamics since the horrifying genocide that took place exactly 20 years ago. With its Vision 2020, the government is trying to transform its economy from subsistent agriculture to knowledge based and want to become an ICT-hub for Eastern Africa. The objective of the research is; To understand how Rwandan people take part in the space of flows by investigating how the use of the mobile phone affects their daily livelihoods in terms of connectivity and mobility. This objective leads to the following research question; How are mobile phones enabling Rwandan people to take part in the space of flows and how does this impact their livelihoods in terms of connectivity and mobility?
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen