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Mobile phones for development: An information case study of mobile phone kiosk vendors in the Congo

Sylvain K. Cibangu (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Mark Hepworth (School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK)
Donna Champion (School of Management, Cranfield University, Cranfield, UK)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




This paper relayed an important line of Mark Hepworth’s work, which engages with information technologies and development. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a subfield of library and information science (LIS) for development to reclaim the role of information services and systems for social change in rural areas. The paper looked at the extent of development gained with the advent of mobile phones.


Rather than undertaking traditional large-scale, quantitative, context-independent and survey-type research, the paper employed capability approach and semi-structured interviews to ascertain the experiences that mobile phone kiosk vendors in the rural Congo had of mobile phones.


It was found that mobile phones should be geared towards the liberation, and not utilization or commodification of humans and their needs and that mobile phones were not a catalyst of human basic capabilities.

Research limitations/implications

Since the method employed is an in-depth qualitative analysis of mobile phone kiosk vendors, obtained results can be used to enrich or inform mobile phone experiences in other settings and groups.

Practical implications

This paper provided empirical evidence as to how an important group of mobile phone users could harness development with their mobiles.


Most LIS literature has presented mobile phones along the lines of information freedom or access, mass subscription, adoption rates, technological and entrepreneurial innovation, micro-credits, etc. However, the paper placed the topic development at the heart of LIS debates.



This festschrift paper is published exclusively in honour of the late Dr Mark Hepworth for his exemplary mentorship and friendship despite the terminal illness that he battled lately.


Cibangu, S.K., Hepworth, M. and Champion, D. (2017), "Mobile phones for development: An information case study of mobile phone kiosk vendors in the Congo", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 69 No. 3, pp. 294-315.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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