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The evolving nature of mobile telecommunications and its impact on mobile phone entrepreneurship in Ghana: 1998-2008.

Opoku-Wusu, Patricia


Patricia Opoku-Wusu


David Lal

Robert Halsall


The aim of this thesis is to examine the evolving nature of the mobile phone industry, and its impact on Ghanaian mobile phone entrepreneurs and their businesses. The rapid evolution of mobile phones has significantly changed the telecom industry and impacted on society more generally. In Ghana, as is typical in Africa, the use of mobile phones now surpasses fixed-line telephones. Hence understanding the process involved is useful, not just for its own sake, but because of the importance of telecommunications in economic development. This study focuses on mobile phone retailers, whose numbers grew rapidly after the 1992-1996 policy reforms. The literature review provides context by relating political changes, legislation and shifts in the industry itself. A combination of narrative methods and case studies captures their experiences. Both purposeful and snowball sampling were used to identify respondents, whilst the data collection by semi-structured interviews was augmented by participant observation. This provided an appreciation of the local context and accounts of the everyday life of the entrepreneurs. The data were largely analysed as life histories by content analysis. NVIVO aided these analyses. The findings examine the entrepreneurs' experiences under three key political regimes during the 1998-2008 period. They document the changes, but also explore the entrepreneurs' motivations and practices. The effects of the entrepreneurial role on Ghanaian economics and society are similarly explored. In terms of the entrepreneurial process, the findings show the uniqueness of how the entrepreneurs adapted to changing circumstances. This turbulent environment was characterised by high inflation, high taxation, high operating costs and a lack of technical support by the network operators. Some entrepreneurs engaged in illegal and illicit practices to circumvent onerous legislation; some avoided any relationship with the authorities, which ironically improved their profitability. In all, the findings tell of a constant struggle to achieve some stability in a turbulent environment. Moreover, many entrepreneurs depended on their strong local culture and religious beliefs to be able to continue. The study shows the extent of the effort required to survive, but also demonstrates how mobile phone entrepreneurs exert considerable energy in supporting their communities and families. Most interestingly, the study shows how these efforts define their social standing and identity. The study contributes by showing how mobile phone entrepreneurs are economically positioned in a complex business environment, and deeply socially embedded in a socio-cultural and religious milieu. This research will be useful for both academics and practitioners by furthering understanding of entrepreneurship within the Ghanaian telecommunications industry. Principally, this study contributes to the understanding of the evolving nature of the mobile phone industry and the impact of regulatory policies, both on mobile phone enterprises and the entrepreneurs who operate them.


OPOKU-WUSU, P. 2011. The evolving nature of mobile telecommunications and its impact on mobile phone entrepreneurship in Ghana: 1998-2008. Robert Gordon University, DBA thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 23, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2022
Keywords Entrepreneurship; Mobile phone businesses; Telecommunications industry; Ghana
Public URL
Publisher URL
Award Date Nov 30, 2011


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