Safaricom will free of charge wire Sh1 billion in government funds to households in drought-stricken counties via its mobile money platform M-Pesa.
More than 360,000 homes in the 23 arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) counties will receive Sh3,000 monthly under the agreement with the State Department of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs, and Special Programmes.
“Cash transfers have proven as the most effective way to reach vulnerable persons in times of emergency. The use of digital financial systems such as M-Pesa will not only ensure we continue supporting cashless transactions as a recommended measure in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic but will also enhance efficiency and accountability,” said Prof Kobia.
Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa stated that the telco has also waived transaction fees for the beneficiaries.
“We are delighted to partner up with and support the government’s nationwide efforts to provide immediate relief to affected households in ASAL counties.” We have waived transaction fees in addition to facilitating direct cash transfers via our M-Pesa bulk payment service (transfer and withdrawal). This will allow the beneficiaries to receive the full amount of Sh3,000,” Mr Ndegwa explained.
The telecom charges Sh51 and Sh50 to transfer and withdraw Sh3,000, respectively. Unregistered users are charged Sh112 per transaction.
Prof Margaret Kobia, Public Service Secretary, commended the partnership, noting that digital financial systems improve accountability.
The government’s money transfer program is part of its intervention efforts after President Uhuru Kenyatta declared a national disaster in parts of the country in September.
Food insecurity affects over 2.5 million people in the country as a result of insufficient rains, which is exacerbated by the damage caused by desert locust invasions, particularly in northern Kenya.
To supplement the State’s efforts, development partners such as the World Food Programme, Unicef, Oxfam Kenya, Red Cross, Concern Worldwide, and the Shikilia coalition, among others, have launched cash transfer schemes.