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5 Reasons Rural Entrepreneurs Do Not Use Digital Services During COVID-19

By Guest Writer on September 15, 2021

entrepreneurship

Digital services have the potential to improve rural entrepreneurs’ access to wider markets and increase their competitiveness among other benefits. Moreover, during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in which movement and physical contacts have been limited, businesses relied much on digital services.

Yet many Namibian rural entrepreneurs have not been able to use digital services to maintain their livelihood. It is presumed that rural communities are not optimally using available digital services to promote and stimulate entrepreneurship activities but mostly, they use them for communication and social media purposes.

Adoption of Rural Entrepreneurship Digital Services in Namibia investigated the factors affecting the adoption of ICT enabled services by rural entrepreneurs. The study applied a cross-sectional survey of 77 respondents comprising 14 rural entrepreneurs and 63 rural community members from four sites.

5 Barriers to Rural Entrepreneur ICT Adoptoion

The study found that the low adoption of ICT enabled services by rural entrepreneurs is influenced by five main factors:

  • Limited awareness of digital services like online marketing
  • Poor navigation skills to use smart devices
  • Unreliable or nonexistent electricity supply to charge the devices
  • High cost of both mobile devices and mobile internet
  • Real and perceived cybercrime threats

ICT enabled services adoption drives generativity, creates value chains of products and services, and enables borderless participation of geographically dispersed audiences and enables entrepreneurs to connect with customers and producers; cyberspace creates some fair market participation opportunities to all participants in the economy.

We recommend a tailor-made training program for rural entrepreneurs which includes raising awareness of digital services and associated benefits, capacity building on digital skills and best practice for cybersecurity.

Namibia has a high mobile phones penetration rate and broadband policy initiatives to connect rural areas but it lacks a policy directive that promotes rural digital entrepreneurship. We propose that the Namibian Government should enhance digital inclusion through a policy initiative to reduce the cost to make both data and smart devices affordable for the poor and rural communities.

A lightly edited version of Adoption of Rural Entrepreneurship Digital Services in Namibia by Elizabeth Ujarura KAMUTUEZU, Heike WINSCHIERS-THEOPHILUS, Anicia PETERS, of the Namibia University of Science and Technology

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2 Comments to “5 Reasons Rural Entrepreneurs Do Not Use Digital Services During COVID-19”

  1. Tulina Herman says:

    I feel there a point omitted yet very vital in the list of barriers mentioned. The level of Education for some rural entrepreneurs and their language proficiency (English), which is the language in which most of these digital services are presented is one of the barriers too. I believe that is the starting point,.

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