Library and Information Science Research
Electronic Journal ISSN 1058-6768
2001 Volume 11 Issue 1; March 31
Bi-annual LIBRES 11N1
A STUDY OF THE INFORMATION NEEDS AND USES OF THE
INFORMAL SECTOR IN UGANDA: PRELIMINARY FINDINGS
By Robert Ikoja-Odongo
University of Zululand X1001, KwaDlangezwa 3886, Tel. 27 035 9026484. Fax 27
c/o email firstname.lastname@example.org South Africa
The study investigates the information
needs of the informal economic sector in Uganda. The uses to which the sector
puts the information it acquires are explored as well as the role and impact of
information in the growth and development of the sector. A survey research
technique was used in the pilot study, with the data collected largely through
focus group discussions, interviewing of key informants and organizations, and
observation through voice recording and photography. Preliminary results show a
variety of information needs, uses, effects, channels, languages, sources, and
constraints. This study has been extremely valuable for testing research
instruments. The study's results indicate a
need to simplify the packaging of information and to improvise on its
sector has experienced rapid growth in developing countries and has
consequently attracted increasing attention.
In Uganda, the informal economy is stimulating interest among academics,
researchers, social development activists, and policy planners. It is generally believed that the rapid
growth of the sector has been influenced by unemployment. Increasingly, the informal sector is
developing as a resilient economic base.
As an economic
system, the informal sector in Uganda dates back to the 1970s, gaining more
visibility in the 1980s, and consolidating in the 1990s. Many factors have contributed to this
development, including the economic crises of the 1970s and the 1980s resulting
from the expulsion of enterprising Indians, the collapse of the formal economy,
political instability (Okumu, 1994), retrenchment, downsizing the public
service workforce, lay-offs in public sector organizations, demobilization of
servicemen, the increasing number of school drop outs, on-going rural-urban
migration, the increasing entry of women and children to the sector, frozen
vacant positions in the public sector (Ssemogerere, 1996), and the automatic
entry of illiterate people into the
sector (Katabira, 1995).
sector is estimated to be growing at an annual rate of twenty-five percent
(Katatumba, 1998). It employs about
twenty percent of the working-age population, and about sixty percent of those
engaged in it depend on their business for at least half of their income. There are about 800,000 informal sector
enterprises in Uganda providing opportunities to an estimated 1.5 million
people. This amounts to about ninety
percent of the total of non-farm workers.
This growth rate constitutes an important opportunity for research and
development. One area important for
research is the sector’s information-gathering behavior, the assumption being
that information availability and access are critical factors in the sector's
In spite of
efforts made by the government of Uganda to address the variety of constraints
facing micro and small enterprises, the lack of access to information remains a
major hindrance to the sector's growth (Kutesa, 1998). First of all, very little is known regarding
its information needs. It is not clear
to information-delivery stakeholders where the sector gets its information, how
it uses it, and in what form. It is also not known to what use this information
is put once it has been acquired. Thus,
the impact of information resources on the growth and development of the sector
cannot be measured nor can its information needs be addressed. This is partially due to the lack of an
adequate audit of the sector. This
incomplete state of knowledge results in uncertainty regarding how to support the sector's development.
presents the results of the preliminary survey of information needs and uses of
the sector from the pilot study district (Soroti District) in Uganda. The study was exploratory and primarily
directed at testing research instruments to determine their suitability for use
in a major study scheduled to begin in 2001.
The instruments were designed by using a variety of sources, including
the researcher’s own perceptions and a review of relevant literature (Wilson,
1981; Haan, 1989; Kaniki, 1995).
The pilot study
was undertaken in Soroti District, one of forty-five districts of the
country. The district covers 5,630
square kilometers in eastern Uganda.
Its population, which was 450,390 people at the time of the last census
(1991), is estimated to be growing at a rate of 2.5 percent annually. The majority of the population (eighty-five
percent) live in the rural areas. Many
languages are spoken, but Ateso, Kumam, English, and Kiswahili are
dominant. The major economic activity
is agriculture (Uganda Districts
Information Handbook, 1997; The
Monitor Business Directory, 2000).
involved the use of pre-designed interview schedules, focus group discussions
(FGDs), observation, site photography, and voice recordings. Interviews were conducted with a sample of
those engaged in informal activities, key informants, and organizations
directly or indirectly connected with the sector. The study was conducted in the months of June and July 2000.
The sample was drawn
from the current list (1998) of micro and small enterprises and their owners
secured from the Private Sector Promotion Centre, Soroti. This list was comprised of forty activities
that met our definition of informal sector.
The sample frame consisted of ten activities for which thirty-eight FGDs
were held with fishing communities, metal fabricators, blacksmiths,
stone-quarry workers, brick makers, carpenters, builders, mechanics, craftsmen,
transporters (boda boda bicycle
riders), and others (beekeepers, a produce dealer, a confectioner). Informal activities were found to exist in
both urban and rural areas. Sampling
took into account that dichotomy.
interview schedule was a mixture of open-ended, closed-ended, and
multiple-choice questions. Demographic
factors, general entrepreneurial characteristics, and community views of the
informal sector formed the basis of the study.
Information-seeking behavior, information access and flow, the role and
impact of information on informal activities, constraints on accessing
information, and suggestions on how to solve the information gap were the
issues of assessment.
3.1 Demographic factors
Males and females; adults, youth, and
children; the able bodied and the disabled; and educated people and illiterates
are found in the informal sector.
Education, an important factor in the development of knowledge and
skills, plays a significant role in
determining the nature of individuals in any activity, including the informal
sector. The sample size was forty
participants. This study found that the
majority (twenty-four or 60%) had attained some formal education. Of those, eleven (27.5%) had attained at
least primary education, thirteen (32.5%) had also received secondary
education, nine (22.5%) had attained diplomas, and two (5%) were graduates in engineering and pure science. In the area of skills, over fifty percent
(57.1%) were found to have gained them by experience, 33.3% through formal training, 7.1% on the job and
through apprenticeship, and 2.4% from both formal training and
apprenticeship. English, local
languages, and Kiswahili are widely used for communication.
3.2 General business characteristics
Most of the
entrepreneurs (62.5%) were found to be engaged full time in informal
activities, 32.5% part time, and five percent on a casual basis. Fifty percent of the businesses had existed
for fewer than five years and the majority for fewer than ten. The main reasons for becoming involved in
the sector were basically income generation (46.5%) and anticipated profits
(18.6%). Lack of motivation to continue
with informal activities comes largely from AIDS, accidents, natural
calamities, age, low demand for products or services, and a lack of funding to
boost or consolidate existing businesses or to produce a new line. Other factors include bad debtors, high
taxes, high rents and electricity bills, lack of credit and business management
skills, competition from technology, lack of basic infrastructure such as
workshops, flooding of the market with factory goods, floating islands (suds),
theft of nets, drought and too much rain, an increase in the number of school
drop-outs joining the sector, and the threat of environmental degradation.
There is some
thinking among scholars that government involvement in the informal sector is
minimal. However, available literature
(e.g., Popola, 1981; Sethuraman, 1981; Maliyankono & Bagachwa, 1990;
Gbossa, 2000) indicates that there is a growing link between the government and
the sector. According to this research,
government involvement is both positive and negative. One positive aspect is that the government usually provides the
informal sector some tenders to build schools and health centres, to make furniture
for schools, to supply classroom aids, to repair government vehicles, and to
maintain roads. Sometimes individuals
win tenders to perform specialist jobs such as painting, joinery, etc. A
negative aspect is taxation. Besides
paying a graduated tax, most informal sector workers pay taxes (income tax)
(58%); thirty-seven percent pay license fees.
Free riders (those who avoid paying taxes), however, said their scales
of operation were too dismal to attract the government's eye, they were too
mobile to be caught, or their activities were seasonal. But the truth is that the degree of
compliance with the law depends on the geographical location of the enterprise,
the size of the unit, and the length of time it has existed (Monaldonado,
ownership, findings indicate that a majority (63.1%) of units are held by sole
proprietors, 26.3% are partnerships, 5.3% are family businesses, and the
remaining five percent are companies.
Many of these businesses (42.1%) employ fewer than five people. On average they employ two.
In relation to
customers, individuals (48.2%) have been found to be the major beneficiaries of
the products or services from informal activities. This finding appears to be consistent with the results of other
studies. Private organizations accounted
for twenty percent, companies 16.5%, and the government 15.3%. This seems to indicate that the informal
sector is not simply a service for poor and low-income earners alone but is
patronized by all sectors of society.
business records, findings indicate that seventy-one percent of those
interviewed kept records, while twenty-nine percent did not. It was found that sales records, purchase
records, and debtor records were the most frequently kept types. Some respondents felt that they earned too
little, saw no need, or just did not bother to keep records. Whether the finding that records were kept
will significantly challenge the notion that informal sector enterprises do not
keep records and, when they do, they mostly rely on mental records (Univ. of
Sierra Leone, 1991; Matsebula, 1996) is yet to be determined.
Since other studies indicate that the
informal sector's earnings remain small for a variety of reasons, it was
necessary for this study to confirm these findings. Our results indicate the same pattern. For example, 62.5% earn on average from ten to twenty-two
U.Sdollars per day. Only five percent
earn between ten and thirty per day, 7.5% earn somewhere between thirty and
fifty U.S. dollars per day, while five percent earn more. Average monthly earnings are consistent with
the daily patterns. For instance, 11.4%
are earning less than twenty U.S. dollars per month, another 11.4% are in the
category of twenty to fifty U.S. dollars per month, twenty percent earn between
fifty and one hundred U.S. dollars, and another 20.5% earn between one hundred
and two hundred U.S. dollars, while18.2% earn between two hundred and five
hundred per month. Earning in the range
of five hundred to one thousand dollars are 11.4%. Very few make more than that monthly. When earnings in the informal sector are compared with those
earnings in the formal sector, it is found that there are some similarities,
especially for those who earn at a level of fifty or more U.S. dollars per
3.6 Information needs and information-seeking behavior
As a starting
point, it was necessary to determine if respondents had ever experienced the
need for information for their work. It
was encouraging to note that respondents had had such experiences, and they
were given an opportunity to narrate instances when such needs were felt. Findings indicate that their information
needs varied at different times.
Marketing information needs rated highest at 22.7%, the need for raw
material and/or supply information was second at 15.9%, and seeking advice was
third at 13.6%. Looking for contracts
amounted to 9.0%, advertising services came to 9.0%, needing information about
government policies that affect them constituted 4.5%, and information on
seasonal effects amounted to 4.5%.
Other information needs (15.4%) were related to the size of fishing
nets, control of water hyacinths, getting rid of floating islands (suds),
competitors, and particular designs of products and new tools.
indicate that information was used for accessing more markets (25%), locating
sources of raw materials/supplies at cheaper prices (16.6%), obtaining information
about business development (10.4%), establishing prices and pricing techniques
(6.3%), achieving business and technical skills (6.3%), and negotiating
contracts (8.3%). Information was also
used for seeking new tools. This
indicates that information usage is linked to the larger framework of planned
social change, bringing usage into close contact with social problem solving.
3.8. Information-seeking methods
methods were an important area to investigate.
Those interviewed were provided an option list of fifteen items and were
asked to indicate those they found applicable.
One hundred seventy-seven frequencies were noted. A summary of findings follows.
-Contacting people who know 29 16.4%
-Talking and listening to people 25 14.1%
-Asking friends, relatives, and neighbors 21 11.9%
-Recourse to personal experience 15 8.5%
-Reading newspapers 15 8.5%
-Radio 11 6.2%
-Asking extension agents 10 5.6%
-Inquiring from educated people 6 3.4%
-Inquiring from area counselors 6 3.4%
-Using social networks 5 2.8%
-Asking the opinions of leaders and role models 4 2.2%
-Asking supervisors 3 1.7%
-Asking and listening to politicians 3 1.7%
-*Others 24 13.6%
*In this category
were mentioned use of a library, letters, telephones, and visiting customers.
access and flow
Respondents were also asked if they had been able to find the
information they wanted. A majority
(87.5%) indicated they had, while 12.5% had not. Those who had been successful were asked if the information they
had located satisfied their need, and they all said it had. To crosscheck the validity of their answers,
they were asked to identify the sources they had used to get information. This was also a closed-ended question with
eleven items. One hundred twenty-six
frequencies were noted. Interpersonal
contacts received the highest rating of 40.5%; personal experience came second
with 13.5%; radio ranked at 10.3%; newspapers, customers, discussions, applying
to contractor, letters, and fellow workers made up 9.5%. Other sources included the library, cultural
ceremonies, associations, area leaders, and supervisors. These findings parallel the findings on
information seeking. To draw conclusions
on this issue it was pertinent to find out what methods key informants and
organizations used in disseminating information to the informal sector. It was determined that radio; newspapers;
interpersonal communication through workshops, local committees,
demonstrations; and attaching practical work to information delivery—for example
football, drama, manuals—had been found to be most effective.
Equally important was how this information was received. Eighty-three frequencies were noted. Findings indicate that word of mouth
(34.9%); printed media (19.2%); and letters, radio, and television (14.4%) were
the primary transmitters. Seminars,
libraries, and discussion groups were reported much less often. These findings strongly indicate that word
of mouth is the preferred method because the majority of entrepreneurs interact
with each other, with local administrators, and with business associates. In this way they obtain information
concerning their businesses without spending additional time looking for or
extracting information from other sources.
They prefer to converse as they work and in the process receive needed
information. In addition, information
via word of mouth can be delivered in a language that is understandable. It takes only a short time to deliver the
information, and an information seeker can easily refer to the provider for
further clarification. The
inconvenience of illiteracy is thus easily avoided. Because these sources had proved helpful, most people preferred
to continue to use them. The most
reliable and frequently used sources remained the radio, word of mouth, written
materials, and the telephone.
In the study it was also necessary to determine the topics for which
information was frequently sought. The
goal here was partly to reconfirm the information needs of these people. Almost replicating the finding regarding
their information needs, the following topics were cited as those for which
information was sought: marketing and
markets, raw materials/ supplies, prices and price fluctuations, the processing
of agricultural products, contracts, competitors, and the security of the
It was an assumption of the study that the informal sector uses
public institutions to satisfy their information needs and some of these
institutions were listed, including public libraries, the Uganda Manufacturers
Association (UMA), the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA), the
Uganda National Federation of Informal Sector Associations (FISA), the Private
Sector Promotion Center (PSPC), and the District Chamber of Commerce. Findings indicated the following:
-People in the informal sector in Soroti are aware of a public
library, but most do not use it. Those
who use it do so infrequently.
-Although aware of the UMA, they are not adequately using it. Those who do use it receive training only
occasionally. The UMA is located 360
kilometers from this district.
-Most people (55%) are more conversant with the USSIA because this
association is represented in every district.
Unfortunately, eighty-eight percent of those who are aware of it do not
-The majority of the people (87.27%) are not aware of FISA. Most people (79.5%) are aware of PSCP and
use it to some extent (44.8%) because the center is located in the district
headquarters and has been training grassroots people in the Village Banks Scheme,
business management skills, and apiary development.
-Although aware of the
District Chamber of Commerce, few rely on it for information services. The 33.3% who use it do so to gain
information on taxation policy, loans, trade shows, and marketing.
In order not to restrict them in their responses to these
organizations only, they were also asked to note other organizations from which
they receive information. Those listed
were Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs); churches; the Prime Minister's office
in charge of poverty alleviation in the district; the Presidential Commission
for Teso (PCT) of which Soroti District is a part; the International Labour
Organization (ILO); and sectoral government departments, i.e., fisheries,
commerce and trade, and community-based services (youth, probation, and gender).
Interview responses from leaders of these organizations confirmed
that indeed their organizations continuously interact with Jua Kali, the informal sector, as part of their work schedule. This finding appears to confirm the
assumption that the informal sector is actually served by public institutions
and that there are many places from which the informal sector receives
3.10 Role and
impact of information
In relation to the perceived information needs of the entrepreneurs,
it was assumed that information contributed to the development of the sector
and had a continuing impact. An
understanding of the role and impact of information was necessary because
information should, in the first place, address the more immediate and
practical needs of the sector on which the effectiveness and sustainability of
information systems and services depend.
Beginning with the role, respondents overwhelmingly (97.5%) stated that
information helps them in their work.
The kind of information to which they referred was progressive
information, which really translates to their information needs. Essentially, information was applied to
business management, i.e., the identification of markets, sources of raw
materials/supplies, and the selling of products more profitably. Key informants and organizations were also
asked whether information actually helps the informal sector. They affirmed that such information was crucial. It helped them in credit management,
business management, creating awareness, and reducing bad practices such as
fish poisoning and the use of illegal nets.
It also helped them in securing and managing loans. Information provided the informal operators
the opportunity to change from primitive to modern methods. Because information was essential for the
development of awareness, the sector was progressing. The findings, therefore, sustained the accuracy of the
Respondents were asked to describe the aspects of their work that
sometimes required information, the aspects of their work that always depended
on information, and those aspects that did not require information. The first question was perhaps the most
difficult. Those who attempted to
respond gave the following answers: labour payments, hours of work each day,
and duties to do on site. As to the
aspects that depended entirely on information, the same picture of information
needs kept recurring, i.e., the search for markets and marketing strategies,
sources of raw materials/supplies, contracts, orders, and product designs. Others included how to determine production
quantities, training plans, floating islands, fishing sites, types of spares,
and technical know-how of various trades.
Aspects that did not need information at all were paying laborers, storage of products,
quarrying, moulding work, and excavation work.
An open-ended question was then asked in order to determine the
effect of information on problem solving.
As expected, many different answers were given. At the top of the list were winning
contracts, increased access to markets, more profits, and cheaper sources of
materials/supplies. Immediate benefits
were expansion of business, more profits, new lines of business, more sales,
and more job opportunities. Also
included were better management, loss reduction, and quality control. The long-term benefits of using information
were the ability to pay taxes easily, higher living standards, business growth,
and business consolidation. The overall
impact, therefore, of using information was that they were better than
before. By impact is meant the changes
brought about by the use of information in the ability of people to satisfy
their needs (Menou, 1998). It is sense
made out of the use of information. And
because of information use together with other input, there had been a general
business improvement. Information use
resulted in business expansion, led to better business management, promoted
marketing and alternative ways of doing business, and led, albeit in a small
way, to the adoption of technology.
on information access
Even though it was determined that the information needs of the
informal sector had been identified and that information use led to tangible
benefits, it was recognized that such benefits were gained at a price. The study, therefore, sought to identify
constraints on information access since such problems should be taken into
account when planning or providing the sector with information. Respondents were asked if they ever felt
difficulties in getting information for their work. A majority (82%) answered affirmatively, stating that
difficulties cropped up occasionally.
When asked exactly what these constraints were, a common response had to
do with the unreliability of information they received, especially when the
source was word of mouth, the preferred channel for receiving information. Word of mouth has, of course, inherent
weaknesses. Information is delivered by
different people and is often inaccurate.
It is common to share hearsay as correct information. In some cases, information is distorted as
it passes from one individual to another, and frequently people with information
do not release it easily when asked.
They hide it. It is presumed
this is a natural consequence of competition and the perceived need to use
information to one's own strategic advantage.
The inability to secure required information was also stated as a
difficulty. This may result from a
variety of causes, including an inability to determine where the needed
information might be, the inability to go to the place the information may be
located, a lack of time to search for information, the lack of a specific place
to get information, ignorance resulting from illiteracy, non appreciation of
information, the incapacity to look for information due to a disability,
failure of telephone lines, information brokers requiring a commission, and the
packaging of information in languages not understood by the information seeker.
Key informants and organizations were asked the same question
regarding possible constraints on information access. They, too, raised issues such as language barriers, illiteracy,
poor absorption and adoption rates, high mobility among entrepreneurs, poor
mobilization, poor timing of information delivery, inaccessibility of many
information sources, and problems in transmittal methods including using
English when many would benefit more from local languages. The cost of radios, poor attendance at
meetings, and lack of demonstration aids were cited as other factors. By age group, it was found that children's
needs were more immediate, usually food, and that they cannot concentrate. Many women experienced husband hazard, i.e., husbands not
allowing them to attend meetings where information could be delivered or
loading them with so much work that they fail to have time or they are too
tired. The disabled were found to be
interested in free things and expect high attention. Many youth require allowances in exchange for attending meetings.
To transcend these problems is one reason entrepreneurs prefer
interpersonal contacts even though this method has its own deficiencies. Possible solutions to constraints were
identified as follows: using a library, paying a commission to an information
broker, attending seminars and social gatherings in the hope that someone who
is sympathetic will leak information, and taking time to look for information.
At this point it was necessary to ask what impact a complete lack of
information would have on their businesses.
Absence of information hindered progress. Uncertainty, redundancy, delayed marketing of products, episodic
depletion of materials or supplies, resorting to peasantry, demotivation, not
knowing when disaster would strike (in the case of fishermen), and ignorance
were the expressed answers.
Interestingly, one respondent answered
for solving the information gap
An overwhelming majority (95%) stated it was possible to provide the
informal sector with information services.
A dismal five percent said this was not possible. Those who said it was possible proposed the
types of information they would like most.
An eleven-option list was provided for their guidance. Findings indicate the following results:
Suggestions for solving the information gap frequency percentage
-information about training 22 11.7%
-information about viable businesses 22 11.7%
-information about capital to start and sustain businesses 21 11.2%
-information about cheaper sources of materials/supplies 20 10.6%
-information about markets 19 10.1%
-government information on business development 18 9.5%
-news about business trends 16 8.5%
-success stories from other countries with similar businesses 15 8%
-information about how to start viable businesses 15 8%
-information about information centres 11 5.85%
-information about banking, machinery, mobile phones,
pricing, advertising 9 4.8%
Those who felt it was not possible to provide the informal sector
with information services said that the sector is very disorganized, people are
doing all sorts of things just to earn a living, some are illiterate, some have
difficulties reading and writing effectively, and some are too poor to sit down
for the sake of information. These are
their feelings as expressed from their hearts.
Those who said it was possible preferred
that such information be presented as follows: it should come with technical details
(33%) and should be complete with packages, models, and designs; it should be
factual (24.2%); it should be in the form of advice (17.1%); it should be
presented as news (15.7%) or as opinion (7.1%). Others felt it should be presented as was deemed fit (2.9%). In addition, they preferred it printed
(36.5%), orally (27%), illustrated (17.3%), on radio (13.5%), or in other forms
(5.7%). The above findings appear to
match the nature of the respondents' activities and levels of education.
How extensive information should be was also discussed. Many
of the entrepreneurs (48.2%) preferred the information be exhaustive to remove
the need to search for more elsewhere, while thirty-one percent felt it should
be on a selective basis to meet individual needs. Others (20.8%) stated it
should depend on the nature of the information. The preferred languages
of presentation tallied with the respondents' demographic characteristics. English
was most preferred (47.5%), local languages were next (37.5%), and Kiswahili
was third (12.5%). The remaining 2.5% expressed the need
for information in Sudanic languages (Arabic and Kinubi). English is the official
language in Uganda, and Kiswahili is the national language. There are over fifty
The study also attempted to determine the types of information
services the informal sector desired. This received a great deal of response. Respondents
were given a sixteen-item option list from which to select those types they
Results are stated in frequencies as follows: exposure visits-16;
demonstration service-15; one-stop centre for buying and selling
information-13; question and answer service-11; referral (information
brokerage) service-9; inquiry (CAS) service-9; trade information exchange
service-9; public shows-7; lending service-6; packaging of information-6;
advertising, mobile phones, letters-6; film shows-5; photocopying service-5;
and on-line information service-4. These responses appear to imply that
there is a need for a practical information service containing elements such as
information technology, audio-visual aids, print materials, training packages,
translation services, publication services, and exposure visits. This
translates to something like a resource centre with a strong emphasis on
The management and the location of such a centre were important
questions at this stage of the study. Findings indicated a general preference
for a centre run at the committee level. The committee would be accountable to
members constituted as a general assembly. It was felt that people with knowledge
of information management should operate the centre from a central place,
preferably from their district headquarters. There would be a link person at the local
site to collect and disseminate information to others at special times. The
system should recognize all informal trades and be able to gather information
on those trades. The arrangement of information should
also be by trade. Thus the information system would be
were sought regarding how to help the sector grow. As would be expected,
many ideas were submitted. A summary of these in a ranked list of
frequencies follows: provision of loans-17; training-13; support by the
government in the marketing of products beyond what the sector could achieve on
its own-9; provision of modern tools-9; storage facilities-5; improvement of
facilities (electricity, roads, landing sites, bigger workshops, transport)-5;
formation of associations-4; reduction of taxes-3; improvement of links between
suppliers and members of the sector-3; more trainable members of the labour
force-3; induction of appropriate technology-3; widening the scope of
businesses-2; standardizing pricing-2; quality control-2; avoidance of
environmental degradation-1; enforcement of laws and the repeal of outdated
ones such as the Crocodile Act-1; and sustained national security and peace.
To promote growth of the sector, key informants and organizations
suggested training support, loans and grants, the repeal of laws that
negatively affect the sector, the formation of associations, tools, and
improved marketing. Other suggestions included the
development of landing sites, the development of roads to guarantee quick movement,
refrigerators in which to keep fish, the enforcement of improved sanitation,
technology for the breaking of stones, machinery to test the quality of bricks,
and planting more trees to help avoid desertification and ensure a sustainable
In addition to
the proposals from the respondents, key informants and organizations made the
following suggestions for improving information dissemination to the informal
For the fishing industry, it was recommended that fishery management
be introduced in primary schools and that the fisheries (Crocodile Act) law be
repealed. They recommended that family institutions be strengthened by
reinforcing cultural values, i.e., promoting positive cultural aspects. Other
ideas included training for functional literacy, providing practical education,
maintaining continuous interaction with the sector, holding education and
sensitization workshops, simplifying what we call information by breaking it
into components, providing knowledge and skills to the sector formally through
education and informally through workshops, publishing newspapers in local
languages, supporting verbal communication with follow-up readers, attaching a
component of economic activity to information, and offering field trips to help
the sector gain exposure.
Although it is
not advisable to draw final conclusions from a preliminary or small study
directed towards the improvement of research instruments, the preliminary
results of this study have provided information that may stimulate debate from
both economic and information-behavior points of view. The informal sector is
found in both rural and urban areas, being more prevalent in urban areas, and
is dominated by persons with low skill levels. The sector has
information needs that should be met. Although there are many different places
that can provide information useful for the sector, there is not one single
place where these people can obtain all the types of information they may need. The
informal sector faces many constraints when attempting to access information. Sometimes
even those engaged in formal institutions may not be able to obtain needed
information, and the process is much more difficult for inexperienced persons. Also,
although there is some level of information delivery to the sector, forms of
receiving are frequently inadequate. This can be partially attributed to the
personal characteristics of the workers, especially low education. There
is a conspicuous absence of an information system that can link different
information sources to the sector support institutions on the one hand and to
the informal sector on the other. Word of mouth as a source of information
is commonly used by entrepreneurs. Interpersonal contacts, personal
experience, radio, and newspapers are the most prevalent means of accessing
information for the sector. Market information, sources of supplies,
advice, contracts, and government policies are the most important information
needs of the sector. It is essential that this study result
in a model that accurately depicts the information behavior of the
information-poor population and tests whether western/elite models of
information behavior have a role to play in meeting the needs of this sector.
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Kampala : Makerere University B.A. SS dissertation (unpublished).
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enterprises workshop. Kampala:MSEPU/IDRC.
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or laissez-faire?” In ILO Trade unions
and the informal sector: towards a comprehensive strategy. Geneva.
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special reference to Swaziland. Harare:SAPES Books.
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The Monitor Business Directory, 2000. Kampala:Monitor
1994. The experience of the youth in the informal sector: a study of traders
in Gulu Municipality. Kampala: Makerere University B.A. dissertation (unpublished).
1996. Employment and labor market during adjustment in Eastern and Southern
Africa. Kampala: ILO.
Uganda Districts Information Handbook, 1997. Kampala: Fountain
Sierra Leone 1991 training opportunities
in the informal sector of Freetown in Sierra Leone. Bonn:DVV.
1981. “On the user studies and
information needs” Journal of
I wish to
acknowledge Makarere University, Uganda, for funding this study and my
promoter, Professor Dennis Ocholla, for guidance and encouragement in the study
and in publishing my preliminary results.
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