Could M-Pesa be a way forward for financial inclusion in Angola?

Could M-Pesa be a way forward for financial inclusion in Angola?

The Angolan minister of economy and planning, Sérgio Santos, has apparently invited the Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom to invest in the country.

Apparently the reason is M-Pesa, Safaricom's mobile payment solution, something discussed last week on a video link by Santos and Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, the general manager of M-Pesa Africa, along with Ogugua Adegbite, director of strategy and international expansion of M-Pesa Africa.

But why M-Pesa? The answer appears to be in the role it could play in advancing financial inclusion. According to Ecofin Agency, financial inclusion in Angola was estimated at below 30 percent in 2019 and is still not growing fast enough, despite the granting of a mobile money license to operator Unitel. Nearly 80 percent of the Angolan economy is said to be in the informal sector. Mobile money could supply a way to bring banking services to this area of the economy.

In addition, the National Bank of Angola, in the national plan for financial inclusion, wants to increase the number of citizens with access to basic financial services to 50 percent of the population by the end of 2022. Some would argue that mobile money might offer an effective way to make that happen.

It seems that Santos invited Safaricom to participate in a seminar to be held soon in Angola and to take the opportunity to explore possibilities for partnerships in the country.

M-Pesa’s involvement could also help to increase competitiveness in the national mobile money segment and, of course, could help to offer a new source of revenue for the public treasury.

How Safaricom has responded to this request – and the investment opportunity it could offer – is as yet unclear.