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Mobile Phones and Radios: Effects on Transactions Costs and Market Participation for Households in Northern Ghana

Authors

  • Giacomo Zanello

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    • Giacomo Zanello is currently at the Department of Agricultural and Food Economics, School of Agriculture Policy and Development, University of Reading, Early Gate, Whiteknights Road, RG6 6AR, Reading, UK. E-mail: g.zanello@reading.ac.uk for correspondence. The author would like to thank Dr. C.S. Srinivasan and Prof. Bhavani Shankar for their invaluable advice and expert guidance. The comments and the editing work of JAE chief editor, David Harvey, are gratefully acknowledged. Any remaining errors are mine.


Abstract

The literature on agricultural markets suggests that transactions costs are the main obstacles preventing households from participating in agricultural markets. We examine the impact of the recent massive penetration of information communication technologies (ICTs), particularly mobile phones and radios, in developing countries to investigate the role of information in economic transactions and participation in food crop markets. To fully capture market participation behaviours, the current theoretical framework on market participation and transactions costs is extended to include those households that sell and buy in the same time period. We correct for endogeneity and selectivity throughout our models. We used a novel dataset of 393 households in northern Ghana with detailed information on market transactions and ICTs usage. Results show that receiving market information via mobile phones has a positive and significant impact on market participation, with a greater impact for households with a surplus of food crops. We find that radios have a larger impact on the quantity traded. This may reflect the nature of mobile phones in reducing searching costs, whereas radios provide an updated and regular flow of information which affects the pattern of crops consumed and sold. We also emphasise that the most significant factor is how ICTs are used, rather than their ownership.

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