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Sub-Saharan Africa jumps in financial inclusion ratings

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Zambia , 03 Apr 2020
Sub-Saharan African countries have relatively high rates of financial inclusion.
Sub-Saharan African countries have relatively high rates of financial inclusion.

A new report says Sub-Saharan African countries have relatively high rates of financial inclusion due to widespread use of mobile money.

The report by Centre for Global Deployment (CGD) finds that just 56% of citizens across 99 developing countries, including Sub-Saharan Africa, have access to a phone, a bank account and an identity card (ID).

However, the report said the widespread use of mobile money services in Sub-Saharan Africa has led to more financial inclusivity than in Latin America where the rate of financial inclusion remains relatively low.

The report said while nearly 80% of Latin Americans have access to a mobile phone, barely more than 50% have a bank or mobile money account.

Research shows that Kenya leads in the use of mobile money within the SSA region.

It added, however, that there are significant gender gaps in access to phones, IDs and especially bank accounts in the region - with men more likely (9 percentage points) to have access to each of these items than women.

Anit Mukherjee, a policy fellow at CGD and a co-author on the report, said, “We found that the lack of bank and mobile money accounts is the biggest gap in digital readiness. It’s difficult to get money to citizens who don’t have either.”

Finance market analyst at Zambia’s Ministry of Finance and National Planning Edith Mwale said it is true that Sub-Saharan countries - including Zambia - have made a lot of progress in ensuring financial inclusivity through the use of mobile money.

She said although in Zambia financial inclusion remains relatively low at 60%, in Kenya, 82.9% of the population are financially included, while other countries including Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria follow Kenya closely.

“While I do not have figures on Latin American countries on where they stand in terms of financial inclusion, I want to agree with the report that Sub-Saharan Africa is way ahead of other countries in terms of mobile money financial inclusion through mobile money,” said Mwale.

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