Mobile Money: 4 Services Tackling Wealth Inequality in Africa
Thursday, July 23, 2015
UNTIL A FEW years ago, a typical family of Kenyan farmers lived with constant uncertainty. Periodic drought would throw them back into poverty, and with no access to banks—no accounts, loans for crop inputs, nor insurance to protect their harvest—they were powerless to change the cycle. But then came an unexpected savior. A basic mobile phone with late-1990s-type features is now helping them save money, borrow to buy seeds, and insure crops. More importantly, phones are enabling “financial inclusion” for the country as a whole—deemed by the World Bank as crucial to reducing poverty and jump-starting economic growth.
And while mobile money services are available in 89 countries globally, nowhere are they having more of an impact than in Africa, where 12 percent of adults have mobile money accounts, compared with 2 percent worldwide. In Kenya, a whopping 59 percent of the adult population actively uses mobile money services, with transactions of $2.2 billion per month. Here’s a look at some of payoffs of the mobile-money economy in different regions of Africa, bringing a measure of financial stability where it’s critically needed.