Review Article

Digital transformation of small and medium enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa: A scoping review

Mourine S. Achieng, Masike Malatji
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 18, No 1 | a1257 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v18i1.1257 | © 2022 Mourine S. Achieng, Masike Malatji | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 June 2022 | Published: 20 December 2022

About the author(s)

Mourine S. Achieng, Department of Digital Transformation and Innovation, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa
Masike Malatji, Department of Digital Transformation and Innovation, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa


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Abstract

The economic activities of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) drive much of the region’s economic growth and development. Despite their importance, SMEs tend to fail in their first two years of operation compared to macro enterprises. Digital transformation (DT) of organisations fosters resilience; however, DT of SMEs in SSA has been slow because of several impediments. The objective of this article is to establish how SMEs in the context of SSA can develop comprehensive strategies for integrating digital technologies into their operations to build resilience. Arksey and O’Malley’s systematic scoping review (SR) is used to identify and map articles over a 5 year period using inclusion and exclusion criteria. A total of 44 articles were included for in-depth analysis to address the issue under investigation. The results indicate toward economy-based, market-based and sociotechnical contextual factors emerging as themes that impede DT of SMEs in the SSA region. In the SSA context, SMEs face numerous regional constraints that create barriers in their operations, such as limited access to profitable and value-added markets.

Transdisciplinarity Contribution: To develop strategies for integrating technologies, it is critical to have a thorough understanding of SMEs’ operational context. This is vital if SMEs in the SSA region are to fully realise the transformative potential of integrating digital technologies into their business operations and gain long-term resilience. Through digitally enabled resilience, SMEs can continue to play their critical role in the economic growth and development of the SSA region.


Keywords

small and medium enterprises; digital transformation; sub-Saharan Africa; resilience; economy.

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