Half of Tanzania?s Population on Phone

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A research team at the University of Dar es Salaam says half the Tanzanian population is currently hooked to mobile phones, and that it takes just a handset to run a business in the country. Led by Prof Ophelia Mascarenhas of the university, there is no need for offices, visiting cards or huge capital investments.

He is joined by Dr. Raphael Mmasi and Dr. Hezron Makundi of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) in his findings.

The team however remind mobile phone firms to take a more serious approach to mobile banking services, where they argue there is “great potential for ’banking the unbankable.”

A Tanzania newspaper reported to-date; such opportunity is dwarfed by fun gigs giving people access to the latest ’music vogues’ or ’pseudo-gambling’ assets promising millions overnight.

“It is time to address the more serious aspect of the mobile (handset) – through mobile banking … it is of no use to the poor to be able to ask for help if the help in the form of remittance of cash cannot be made because the service is still not available in both the urban and rural areas,” they argue.

In one case, a customer had to travel 35km just to collect an unspecified sum of money sent through M-Pesa, incurring 6,000/- in commuting to the nearest service point.

The Tanzanian study is part of four-nation initiative code-named PICTURE-Africa. The other countries currently doing similar studies are Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – all financed by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Source: AfricaNews.com (link opens in a new window)