Dr. Chuks Otioma

Information and Communications Technology Capabilities, Innovation and Economic Performance in Africa: The Role of Framework Conditions, Entrepreneurial Activity and Firm Learning

Year: 2023

Fred Gault & Lili Wang


This thesis comprises four empirical studies that contribute to understanding the links between ICTs, innovation and economic performance in African countries. The first part explores the pattern and framework conditions of technology-based entrepreneurial activities (TBEA) in Africa. The results demonstrate that the archetypical cases show consistency of TBEA with strong knowledge base and institutional conditions. The second empirical part employs mediation analysis to examine the role of organisational learning in the relationship between Information Technology (IT) capability and innovation performance of firms in Kenya. It finds that IT capability has a significant effect on innovation performance of firms, and that this effect is realised mainly through the mechanisms of explorative organisational learning, while firms leverage IT to exploit existing (in-house) knowledge base to drive innovation performance to a significant extent. The third empirical part examines the effect of digital infrastructure on employment in the services sector, using data on Sub-Saharan Africa countries over time. It finds that the positive effect of digital infrastructure on employment in the services sector depends on education, institutional quality, and macroeconomic conditions. The fourth empirical part conducts an in-depth case study of digital enterprises in South Africa to understand the dimensions of institutional voids and strategies deployed in filling them. The study finds that skills gaps, limited financing opportunities and adverse regulations form the major recurring institutional voids in South Africa’s digital business environment. Digital enterprises adopt external skills sourcing as a mechanism to augment skills gaps. Skills sourcing is oriented towards emerging Asian economies, pointing to an emerging market-emerging market knowledge network. In contrast to filling skills void, the digital enterprises in the study tend to adopt inwardly-oriented financing approach, relying on lean operational models to cut cost. The thesis draws on the empirical chapters to put forward reflections that provide opportunities for advancing research and policies on the digital economy in African countries.

Selected publications by Chuks Otioma