Academic journal article Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

Assessment of Business Information Access Problems in Uganda

Academic journal article Partnership : the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

Assessment of Business Information Access Problems in Uganda

Article excerpt


Effective utilization of quality business information is crucial in attaining long-term and sustainable economic growth of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). It is established that SMEs in northern Uganda operate in a business environment that is characterized by fragmented and incomplete information. It is a situation where an awareness of markets, technology, policies, regulations and finance is limited because businesses fail to receive timely business information. This article reports a portion of the results of a larger study using a descriptive design with survey research and other techniques. The study examined the problems SMEs in northern Uganda face in accessing business information; identified problems information providers face in providing business information to the SMEs in the region and attempted to establish whether SMEs in northern Uganda use public libraries in accessing business information as should be expected. The study's respondents included the SMEs, information providers and business policy makers with the response rate of 87.3%; 72% and 85% respectively. The article proposes strategic interventions for business information to be accessed by the SMEs. It concludes that there is a need for Uganda and, in particular, northern Uganda to develop a strategy for business information access by the SMEs

Keywords: Business information services, business information access, small scale business enterprises, Northern Uganda, information utilization, business information access problems


Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) need to have access to adequate information to enhance productivity and to facilitate market access. The establishment of an active SMEs sector and the effective utilization of quality business information have been identified as crucial in attaining long-term and sustainable economic growth for developed and developing countries, alike (Corps 2005). However, in most developing countries, the SMEs sector suffers from inadequacies in the provision of business information, which is only available from stand-alone institutions; is often slow and cumbersome to access; is limited in scope; and is not provided in an integrated manner (UNIDO 2005). SMEs need tailor-made information solutions - i.e. business information services that assess, verify and apply information to a specific business problem.

In Uganda, the economy has great potential. Endowed with significant natural resources, including ample fertile land, regular rainfall, and mineral deposits, it appeared poised for rapid economic growth and development at independence. However, chronic political instability and erratic economic management produced a record of persistent economic decline that left Uganda among the world's poorest and least-developed countries (United States, Bureau of African Affairs 2007). This situation can be averted by effectively promoting the involvement of the engine of economic growth, the SMEs, in national and international businesses. The international involvement of SMEs requires accurate and adequate access to relevant business information. Based on that, a study was conducted to establish strategies for designing a viable business information system for the SMEs. One of the issues was the problems SMEs face in accessing business information in Uganda with specific reference to northern Uganda. This article therefore reports on the study of the problems SMEs face and measures to address them. However, before the details of study are given, it is imperative that a brief background to the economic development of Uganda with respect to northern Uganda is examined.

Brief Background to Uganda's Economic Development with Specific Reference to Northern Uganda

According to (1999), Uganda (a country 241,038 sq. kilometres in size) has settled down politically, and is on the path to economic recovery. The Government of Uganda has been implementing an ambitious and successful programme of macro-economic adjustment and structural reform since 1987 - with strong support from multilateral and bilateral creditors and donors. …

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