Mobile money accounts are slowly replacing traditional bank accounts in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new report by GSMA — the body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide.
The report, The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa 2017, shows that there were 277 million registered mobile money accounts in the region at the end of 2016 while the number of live mobile money schemes had reached 140 across 39 countries, accounting for more than half of the 277 mobile money deployments worldwide.
The study also shows that more than 40 per cent of adults in Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe are active mobile money users.
Kenya remains a global leader in mobile money with its hugely successful M-Pesa service which is celebrating 10 years of operations.
“Mobile money is now achieving mass market adoption in all corners of sub-Saharan Africa, enabling millions of people to access financial services for the first time and contributing to economic growth and social development,” said GSMA director general Mats Granryd.
From being used to perform basic transactions — including airtime top up —mobile money has evolved to enable additional financial services including paying bills, merchant payments and international remittances which nearly quadrupled between 2014 and 2016, accounting for about 17 per cent of all mobile money transactions.
The growth of mobile money in sub-Saharan Africa rides on the back of the region’s impressive mobile phone penetration curve, which is expected to cross the half a billion mark in the next three years.
Mobile technologies and services generated $110 billion of economic value in sub-Saharan Africa last year, representing 7.7 per cent of GDP, and supporting approximately 3.5 million jobs in the region.