Since the mid-1990s a telecommunications revolution has taken place in Ghana. The telecom sector has been privatized, the fixed line network has been extended and improved, and the number of mobile phone users has sky-rocketed. This project seeks to analyse the impact of this development on the business practices of traders in cloth and agricultural produce. The actors in these markets largely operate on a relatively small scale, sales often take place in 'traditional' marketplaces, and transactions in the commodity chain almost always involve personal trust-based networks that extend widely in space - between rural and urban areas and sometimes abroad. The paper describes the situation in Ghana with regards to traders' access to telecommunication services, the way in which they make use of these services, the extent to which phone use saves them costs, and whether the new technology bring about changes in geographical trading patterns. The analysis is based on the presumption that with a tool for more efficient communication over long distances - in most cases a mobile phone - transaction costs will reduce and traders are able to improve the profit potential of their business. An important underlying focus will be to investigate whether communication technology has an impact on the way in which relationships of trust in trade networks are initiated and maintained.

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