Julius Sirma, Tabitha Kihara


Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are some of the core elements involved in increasing levels of employment in East African region at large. However as competition from large national or international firms increases, which then result in a decrease in prices, customer base or both continue hurt the growth of SMEs and the whole economy. This is so because large firms adopt ICTs more swiftly hence digital divide. The adoption and use of appropriate Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can help SMEs remain competitive. The aim of this paper is to conduct an empirical investigation to identify tangible benefits derived from the adoption and use of ICTs among SMEs in East African region. Its aim is to improve the understanding of the role ICTs can play in improving SMEs through better trade facilitation. Trade facilitation includes the simplification and harmonization of international trade procedures. The main findings of this study are that SMEs are still in the early stages in the use of ICTs in trade. Several factors were found to be responsible for this, including finance, employee education including ICT skills, high cost of ICT infrastructure and shortage of skilled human capital. Greater advocacy, awareness and facilitation for ICTs use and adoption are recommended.

Keywords: SMEs, ICTs, trade facilitation, simplification, harmonization, international trade procedures, internet.

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