TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka
THE rapid growth of Zambia’s mobile money agent network is helping to fill gaps in the provision of financial services and increase financial inclusion across the country.
A latest report has revealed that the number of active mobile money agents in Zambia has doubled between 2015 and 2017 from about 3,200 to over 6,500.
This is according to the geographic information system (GIS) mapping project dubbed Leveraging data to support the expansion of agent networks in rural areas of Zambia by MIX Data Wrangler Eldan Goldenberg and United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) – Mobile Money for the Poor Zambia project and knowledge management consultant Uloma Ogba.
“The number of active mobile money agents in Zambia more than doubled, from 3,225 to 6,590.Building on the financial inclusion Lab’s interactive country dashboard, which was initially launched in 2014, Mix and UNCDF partnered to gain insights into the remaining gaps in mobile money access in Zambia
“While the overall agent network growth is impressive, bringing the national average to 75 agents per 100,000 adults and some of the biggest gains have been in previously underserved rural areas, agent network coverage in Zambia remains uneven,” the report reads.
The report revealed that 13 mainly rural districts such as Masaiti, Mporokoso and Kalabo still have about 20 agents per 100,000 adults, 93 percent of whom have never used mobile money.
On the national front, 91 percent of rural respondents had never used mobile money, even though 46 percent of this group owned a working mobile phone and 70 percent had access to one.
Meanwhile, 51 percent of non-users indicated that they had never heard of mobile money or did not know what it was.
The data also revealed that those who engage in any type of agricultural activity are less likely to be financially included, use mobile money or have any formal savings.
“One likely driver of this phenomenon is that the districts with the largest numbers of seasonal farmers tend to have fewer mobile money agents.
“To compensate for gaps in the availability of financial service access points, we explored the potential of enabling people to deposit and withdraw funds at facilities outside the financial ,” the report reads.
TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka