CEO Weekends: Kenya’s M-PESA Concept Least Likely To Take Off In Nigeria, Safaricom


M-PESA as a mobile concept for money transactions is budding in Kenya. However, in a more economically stable country like Nigeria, M-pesa is lagging behind due to factors such as unawareness, poor target market,  noted Bob Collymore, Safaricom’s CEO.

Collymore in an interview noted that mighty lobbies in most African countries don’t want M-pesa due to the belief that they would lose out.

While Nigeria is a middle income country with an emerging market with expanding financial, service, communications, technology and entertainment sectors, it is ranked 26th in the world in terms of GDP and is ranked as the largest economy in Africa, set to become one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. But despite expanding financial sectors, reports and experts like Collimore concur that a high population is not ready to use the M-pesa services.

In Kenya, M-pesa has been on the soaring. According to the World Bank, there are more mobile phones in Kenya than there are adults and nearly four fifths of the 43 million people that make up the population with mobile phones in Kenya use them for mobile-money services. Worldwide, while there are approximately 60 million mobile-money users, one in three of the mobile users in the world is Kenyan. Annual money transfers in Kenya has reached 10 billion, reports say.

That is because, explained Collymore, the Kenya was set to deepen financial inclusion in the country, thus M-pesa was supported by the government as it could help achieve such motives without lobby groups being hostile towards the concept. More so, GSM Association of mobile operators research has found that mobile phone operators are capable institutions to launch and scale mobile-money services and to lead the partnership with banks.

However, that has not been the case in Nigeria. Yet, the Central Bank of Nigeria is set to develop and pursue a strategy of financial inclusion to reduce the percentage of adult Nigerians excluded from financial services from 46.3 per cent in 2011 to 20 per cent by 2020.

Reports claim that CBN is reluctant to hand over mobile-money licenses to mobile network operators in Nigeria. despite the fact

And according to a survey conducted in August 2013 by NOI, an opinion research company in Nigeria, slightly more than half (59 per cent) of the population is unaware of mobile money services with only 13 per cent of those aware are yet to adopt it.

In addition, the report found that 93 per cent of mobile-money account holders operate them in connection with their bank accounts, of which, means that the unbanked population in Nigeria were not using the services.

While M-Pesa was found to be a solution to Kenya in which money made in cities is sent to families in need in financial support in rural areas through a mobile phone, Collymore concurred that what works in Kenya may not work in other African countries like Nigeria.