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Uganda’s mobile financial services expanded

17 September 2014, 15:21 Nechesa Chemoi

Nairobi - IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, Wednesday announced an advisory services agreement, valued at $3.9 million, with Airtel Uganda to expand access to mobile financial services to strengthen financial inclusion.

In Uganda, just over half of the adult population has access to formal financial services, leaving the other half no choice but to rely only on cash and informal practices for transactions, savings and credit, which is costly and risky.

The aim of the three-year project is to assist Airtel Money Uganda in strengthening its mobile money operation to increase the number of its active customers.

These customers will include rural and underserved communities and women. IFC will provide advisory services on agent network management and product development, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We are quite pleased with this support from IFC and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It will help us to further strengthen our distribution capability and involvement in deepening access to financial services and the creation of cashless ecosystems in Uganda,” said Chidi Okpala, Director and Head of Airtel Money Africa.

The implementation of mobile financial services has shown to be a successful way of increasing access to financial services, and thus an important tool in the fight against poverty and the promotion of inclusive economic growth.

Also read: Kenya boasts high mobile money potential

 In Tanzania, recent FinScope data show that the use of mobile money services has helped increase the rate of financial inclusion from 15.8 to 57.4 percent in just four years.

“The lack of access to formal financial services means many Ugandans have no safe or sustainable way of saving or transacting money. Mobile money offers great potential in extending formal financial services also to the low-income market, and our partnership with Airtel Uganda will further that cause,” said Greta Bull, IFC Head of Micro Retail Advisory Services in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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