|dc.description.abstract||This thesis presents findings from a qualitative enquiry into the rapid uptake of the
mobile phone by pastoral communities in Tanzania and its use as a tool to tackle
marketing constraints. The research design involves an interregional comparative
analysis of two key production regions: Arusha and the Lake Zone, and two groups of
livestock producers (the Maasai pastoralists and Wasukuma agro-pastoralists
Applying the Social Shaping of Technology (SST) perspective from Science and
Technology Studies (STS), and in particular the concept of ‘appropriation’, the study
examines the embrace of mobile phones by those producers – who keep livestock
under the extensive (pastoralist) and semi-intensive (agro-pastoralist) systems
respectively. The thesis examines the extent to which the mobile phone is changing
how livestock keepers interact in the livestock market and how this is affecting their
The thesis shows that the significance of the mobile phone varies with user groups; for
instance, for the Maasai who still lead a nomadic life, the mobile phone is used
‘conservatively’ to communicate about herd management and to coordinate household
affairs in ways that do not substantially disrupt traditional social practices and roles.
In contrast, the Wasukuma agro-pastoralists use mobile phones to introduce new
processes to support production and marketing, one good example being the strategy
used to coordinate transportation of cattle to market.
The study findings suggest the extension of the “appropriation” (Williams, Stewart,
& Slack, 2005) conceptualisation by adding the possibility of a spectrum from shallow
to extended according to users’ role and the context of use. Nevertheless, and in more
generic terms, it is possible to say that the mobile phone use did not disrupt some of
the traditional practices and trade customs amongst the Maasai, and it has reinforced
the innovative behaviour of the Wasukuma.
The thesis also examines a parallel initiative whereby aid agencies and public bodies
in Tanzania supported the development of the Livestock Information Network and
Knowledge System (LINKS), as an ICT platform designed to improve the livestock
market by sharing market information. However, studies show that LINKS has not had
the intended effect, is not trusted and has not been adopted by many pastoralists.
The study shows how the concept of trust, which is key in market dynamics and trade
relations, has been reshaped, because the mobile phone has supported informal
communications that reinforce traditional methods of policing trust in the market.
The thesis contributes to ongoing debates surrounding the conceptualisation of
Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). The failure
of early ICT4D initiatives was attributed to a failure to address users’ specific
requirements, due to gaps in the translation process, as well as to socio-political and
technical fragilities such as the lack of adequate infrastructure, and a deficient social
learning process. The initial reworking of ICT4D highlighted the need to design
technology as a specific solution appropriate to particular contexts/user groups. These
were seen as finished solutions (corresponding to the idea of a ‘technical fix’).
Focusing upon ‘appropriation’, in line with the Social Shaping of Technology – Mark
2 approach – allows scope for a further rethinking of ICT4D which addresses not just
design but the active role of users in shaping technological innovation to the context
and purposes of communities in developing countries.||en