African countries like Nigeria, Kenya, and Tanzania have been predicted to rule the world in mobile money transactions, which include mobile banking and mobile wallet, in the next few years, going by the continent's population and zeal for technology advancement.
Head, Marketing and Strategy at Ericsson, Mr. Shiletsi Makhofane, who made the prediction in Sweden, while unveiling the company's Digital Agenda for Africa, advised banks and tele-communications operators in Africa to see the opportunities and take advantage of them to boost African technology development.
He also called on the banks and the telecommunications operators to invest in infrastructure that would help in leveraging on the opportunities to address the challenges of the unbanked across Africa.
Substantiating its prediction, Makhofane said developed countries of the world that have adopted mobile money, are currently battling with stiff competition with international organisations like MasterCard to deepen mobile money penetration in their countries.
He explained that such competition was yet to surface on the African continent, a situation, he said, became a comparative advantage for African countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania that were already driving mobile money penetration in Africa.
"Apart from competition, Nigeria and some other African countries have population advantage to leverage on, especially on the large population of the unbanked in rural communities," he said, adding that Africans were denied such opportunities in the past, and would be glad to embrace the mobile money technology in full force, owing to its many advantages that would address their needs.
According to him, the same pressing needs helped the fast deployment of M-Pesa in Kenya, which has today become a success story in just few years. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the policy on cash-based transactions in 2010, which has been successfully implemented in Lagos, and is gradually spreading to other states and communities.
The policy was introduced to drive development and modernisation of payment system in line with Nigeria's vision 2020 goal of being among the top 20 economies by the year 2020. The cashless policy, which is a key enabler for economic growth, is capable of reducing the cost of banking services and drive financial inclusion by providing more efficient transaction options and greater reach.
In Kenya, M-Pesa, which is a mobile-phone-based money transfer and micro financing service for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania, has remained the most developed mobile payment system in the African countries.
M-Pesa allows users with a national identity card or passport to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money easily with a mobile device. Its customers can deposit and withdraw money from a network of agents that includes airtime resellers and retail outlets acting as banking agents.
Speaking on Ericsson's digital agenda for Africa, Makhofane called on African leaders to consider five parameters in driving the agenda. He listed the parameters to include harmonised spectrum policies, accelerated infrastructure rollout, implementation of light-touch regulatory policies, incentivising innovations, and improved regional integration.
He laid more emphasis on harmonised spectrum policies and accelerated infrastructure rollout, which he said would boost Africa's digital agenda, if strictly adhered to.