Tag Archives: Market Information Systems

Posts relevant to market related IS, or the HCI of technological artefacts.

Esoko blog: Mira Slavova, MIS Researcher

As I’ve been settling down in Ghana and struggling to find the time to start posting more often. Luckily, an invitation from the Esoko blog managed to get me to focus and write something coherent on MIS topics again. I am re-posting the sections, other than the introduction. If you are reading this, you’d know who I am.

MIS as Intermediaries?

I prefer to consider the broad topics of Market Information Systems MIS, Warehouse Receipts Systems and Commodity Exchanges in Africa within the context of the intermediation theory of the firm. According to this theory see Spulber 1999, intermediaries emerge within the space of decentralized trade due to the encountered transaction costs. Firms providing agricultural market information alongside other services exist in Africa because decentralized exchange with agricultural commodities is plagued by transaction costs. Intermediated exchange emerges as a stable form of organization because intermediaries are able to economize on transaction costs and deliver net gains from trade, in excess of the gains obtainable from direct exchange.

The Difference between MIS, Warehouse Receipt Systems, and Commodity Exchanges

In considering MISs, Warehouse Receipt Systems and Commodity Exchanges as intermediaries, it is clear that some of these services are involved in more extensive intermediation than others. MISs often define their role purely as that of alleviating market price information asymmetries. MISs deliver mobile price information to farmers, leaving the bargaining and the details of the transactions to the farmers to sort out for themselves. To say the least, in the absence of consistent grading and sorting practices in many value chains in Africa, verifying the correspondence, between the quality of the commodities the price information refers to and the quality of the commodities being traded, becomes a non-trivial matter. By certifying the quality of the commodities and the identities of the buyers and sellers, Warehouse Receipt Systems go one step further in addressing the transaction costs present due to lack of communication between producers and buyers.

Commodity Exchanges go even further by providing an auction mechanism for reaching agreement on the terms of trade. As market-making intermediaries, they determine the mechanism of exchange and institutionalize that mechanism. Commodity Exchanges provide the market microstructure for the transactions between the buyers and the sellers. The market microstructure includes the details of the process through which the exchange occurs. By contrast, the market microstructure on which MISs rely tends to be the product of recurring, customary behaviors on behalf of the buyers and the sellers. The institutions governing their transactions are informal and based on relational norms, rather than formalized.

Reducing Communication Costs

In considering MISs, Warehouse Receipt Systems and Commodity Exchanges as intermediaries, it becomes clear that the differences among these market systems stem from the different transaction costs they are aimed at alleviating. Clearly, there can be numerous sources of transaction costs. The choice of a bundle of transaction costs which to be addressed is part of the strategic positioning of an intermediary. Within the complex social-business hybrid value chains, encountered within the agriculture sector of developing countries nowadays, communication costs can form a significant part of the transaction costs. Technology platforms such as Esoko enable, for-profit and non-profit organizations interested in streamlining agricultural value chains by acting as intermediaries, to address communication costs.

via Esoko.

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Google Trader launch stuns Accra

by Joseph Appiah-Dolphyne and Kent Mensah, AfricaNews

Google literally brought Accra – the capital of Ghana in West Africa – to a standstill with the public launch of its new product Google Trader. It is a free online classifieds service that allows Ghanaians to buy and sell products and services, as well as search for jobs or just about anything else.

Google Trade launch in Accra, 2 Dec 2010.

The service seems to be catching on fast with traders in the capital in particular as some have already listed items from livestock to stationery. “I’m actually surprised this is for free and I can just do it with a touch of the button on my cell phone,” Kofi Baah, a secondhand clothing seller at the Makola Market – the largest shopping centre in Ghana – told AfricaNews.

“This is incredible. You mean I can really advertise my coconut selling business on the net?” Stephen Agyapong, a coconut seller at Osu queried after he was handed a handout explaining how the service works.

“I’ll give it a try definitely,” he promised. According to Google, Trader can be used by anyone in Ghana, but is expected to have the biggest uptake in major towns and cities across the country. “Individuals can post short ads to buy and sell items and services, whilst businesses of any size can also use the site to reach more customers and increase their sales,” a statement read.

The Ghana launch took the crew through Makola, Kwame Nkrumah Circle lorry park, the Oxford street of Osu where the public was spellbound with a professionally crafted chorographic antics that would eventually be transformed into a video clip for the online community.

The Country Lead for Google Ghana Estelle Akofio-Sowah could not hide her excitement as she watched the large crowd that took a brief break from their daily activities to take a glimpse of the flashmob.

She said: “We are excited about Trader because its free, easy to use, and locally relevant. Having a web version, a mobile web version and an SMS option means that Trader is accessible to everyone, no matter where you are.”

To make sure that Trader is easily accessible to users across Ghana, Google has partnered with AIRTEL and TIGO to offer a FREE SMS option. Users can subscribe by texting START to 6007 on any Airtel or Tigo phone and can start posting and selling straight away.

via AfricaNews – Google Trader launch stuns Accra – The AfricaNews articles of Dolphyne.