Date of Award

7-1-1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of International Affairs and Development

Degree Name

Ph.D.

First Advisor

Dr. Snehamay Banerjee

Abstract

Since information technologies (IT) such as the "Internet" are being heralded as vehicles for increasing economic integration, the focus of this study is to determine ways that Internet technology can be used to increase West African subregional trade. The research design used both the survey and case methods to determine (1) perceptions of how the four independent variables (political, economic, social and technical) influence Internet adoption, and (2) whether Internet adoption has an influence on subregional trade in West Africa. The multilingual questionnaire (English, French and Portuguese) was based on an extensive review of literature and exploratory information taken from Internet discussion groups. The respondent sample frame was taken from embassy trade lists, commercial trade directories, and convenience samples of Internet discussion groups focusing on technological development in Africa. Questionnaires from seven countries were received. Case analysis consisted of a series of structured interviews which took place at a technology conference in Accra, Ghana. These interviews were conducted to supplement the survey response rate. After the data were tested for both reliability (alpha coefficient) and validity (factor analysis), five hypotheses were tested. The study found that (1) out of the four independent variables chosen for the study, only the political variable had a profound influence on Internet adoption and (2) Internet adoption is strongly correlated with subregional trade. Conclusions drawn from this study suggest that, despite the lack of ability to regulate the Internet, the government plays an important role in producing the a hospitable climate for its development. While cost is still a concern for most trade companies, awareness of the Internet is widespread and "technophobia" has been surmounted. Alternative power sources are needed to sustain growth and collaborative efforts are encouraged for subregional integration. Some recommendations are: formation of Internet advocacy groups to influence government technological initiatives; collaboration between subregional organs such as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), West African Monetary Agency (WAMA) and West African Enterprise Network (WAEN); proliferation of subregional "telecenters"; "West African Internetwork" topology using Internet and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to promote subregional integration.

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Notice to Users, Transmittal and Statement of Understanding

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