Sub-Saharan Africa Home to Two of Every Three Mobile Money Transactions

An article from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) “Mobile Money Mysteries” series highlights Sub-Saharan Africa’s dominance in the mobile money market.

Since the late 2000s, East Africa’s M-PESA has been the go-to model for mobile money service providers across the globe following its launch in Kenya.

There were 35 of these providers in 2009. The number had more than tripled to 111 by 2011. Now, half of all providers operate in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

“Between 47%-54% of operations have been in sub-Saharan Africa consistently for the last 13 years,” reads the UNCDF article.

East Asia & Pacific and South Asia follow with 16% and 11%, respectively. 

These three regions account for 92% of the world’s active mobile money users; more than half are in Sub-Saharan Africa. These regions also make up 95% of the world’s mobile money agents.  

The volume of transactions in Sub-Saharan Africa is more notable than the proportion reflected in active accounts.

Despite the promising numbers, insufficient data in parts of the region means it is difficult to accurately portray the full extent of mobile money usage in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

For instance, Somalia is rarely included in assessments despite having recorded one of the highest account ownership figures in the mid-2010s.  

Ethiopia’s case is similar. The last time the country was included in the World Bank Findex data was in 2017. However, tremendous shifts have taken place in Ethiopia’s digital finance ecosystem in the years since. 

“This means East Africa’s contribution to the initial growth of mobile money is even more paramount than generally acknowledged,” reads the UNCDF article.

Read it here.

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