A model of the contribution of information communication technology to the tourism value chain for pro-poor benefits in Rwanda
Prior studies have shown that the information communication technology sector worldwide is perceived as a transformative and enabling tool for the other economic activities to improve citizens’ lives. In a Rwandan context, information communication technology integration in economic sector activities such as tourism, with the adoption of a value chain approach, is thought to be an answer to a number of social and economic challenges, including unemployment, customer care services, and poor information knowledge. In combination with the tourism sector, it is possible that job creation opportunities could benefit unemployed Rwandans, particularly the young, where information communication technology is identified as a business in itself, and an enabling tool to improve inter-economic and crosscutting activities in a growing economy. Despite mixed results from various studies, information communication technology for a tourism village could be an enabling tool for national and regional development, if priority focus on ICT and tourism quality infrastructures is maintained. Research on the evolving nature of the information communication technology sector, through tourism activities in Rwanda, could yield many off-farm jobs besides solely agrarian activities. The study was conducted on an extensive scale, in order to facilitate the generalisation of the results, employing 720 tourism stakeholders’ surveys, ten interviews with government tourism officials, and ten focus group discussions to garner both quantitative and qualitative data. A mixed research method was used to minimise possible research bias and maximise the accuracy of the findings in the four provinces and Kigali City in Rwanda. Of the 720 questionnaires distributed, 615 were usable. Regarding the interviews with government officials, focus group discussions, field observations and secondary data analysis, the researcher found that the information communication technology contribution to tourism stakeholders’ economic lives was at variance with residents’ perceptions in the provinces and districts, and contradicted the information communication technology benefits of connectivity, internet accessibility and usability in their locality. It was also confirmed that information communication technology contributions to tourism stakeholders were at a very low level, where the contribution was limited to telephone subscriptions and their uses, for example for mobile money transfers. The future of information communication technology contributions to tourism stakeholders is positive, if integrated value chain approaches are adopted to benefit poor communities at a tourist destination being visited. A model of an information communication technology village for the development of a tourism village is proposed. This could serve as a catalyst to measure the impacts on both the information communication technology and tourism sectors discussed in this study. More importantly, it was clearly found that the culture of approaching local communities in the process of policy drafting, or any developmental programme, is not present in Rwanda, and this was shown as a critical issue because of the costly nature of implementation of changes. Consequently, this study found that there was potential to support projections for information communication technology policies to achieve the objectives of sustainable development through tourism, promoting rural development, and a reduction of poverty in general
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