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“The future of Africa is Mobilemoney”- Emmanuel Okoegwale on Mobile Money Expo 2014

January 17, 2014

banner-img (1)In a trend that is has been slowly but steadily gathering steam, Africa is moving towards a future of Mobile Money . The affirmation comes from Emmanuel Okoegwale Principal Associate at Mobile Money Africa.Okoegwale who is one of the Chief Organizers of the  upcoming Mobile Money Expo in Lagos, Nigeria says Mobile money is moving into main stream of financial services in many parts of Africa. “Due to strong compelling need of Africans and lack of well developed financial services like other parts of the World, Africans ingeniously started using airtime as a means of exchange and that progressed into using the mobile phone as a channel to access basic financial services,” Okoegwale said. Taking place from Feb 2-4, Mobile Money Expo 2014 focus on addressing financial inclusion Okoegwale said, while confirming an unprecedented high level of participation compared to previous events in an interview with Ajong Mbapndah L for PAV We understand the Mobile Money Expo 2014 will be taking place in Lagos, Nigeria, can you tell us about the event? In its 4th Year now, the mobilemoneyexpo series is the leading mobile financial services conference focused solely on the African continent and held annually in Lagos- Nigeria.it is the gathering of top executives from mobile network operators, Banks, regulators, systems and application providers  in the emerging mobile financial services space across  Africa and beyond. Last year we focused on inter operability and in 2014 we are addressing financial inclusion. May we have an idea of some of the confirmed participants, what will be some of its highlights? The expo gets bigger and better every year! For 2014, leading providers from across the world are already confirmed for the two day event. Verifone MobileMoney, Ingenico, Mfino, CIT Global , Etisalat Nigeria are some of the firms already confirmed. For how long have you been having the Money Expo Events and how have there evolved over the years? The event was established only four years ago to address the strong compelling needs in the African mobile financial services ecosystem. As a stakeholder in the industry, we observed that there is a need to have thought leaders and influencers in the ecosystem meet  and deliberate on pertinent issues in the industry. Over the Years, we have been signing speakers from all around the World and this year, we have speakers from 16 countries and delegates from every continent is represented. And now to Mobile Money, what is all about? Can you explain the concept in plain language and its place in Africa today? Due to strong compelling need of Africans and lack of well developed financial services like other parts of the World, Africans ingeniously started using airtime as a means of exchange and that progressed into using the mobile phone as a channel to access basic financial services. Subscribers can visit local agents and load e-money in exchange for cash which can be stored (Savings), transferred or used to pay for goods and services. It is a service that enabled millions to have basic access to financial services using the mobile phone as a means of authentication in a continent where millions do not have access to formal Banking, no documentation and many often, the Bank branches are very far away but yet all these excluded have access to a mobile phone. Mobile Money helped Africans to commoditized money. Africa has a population that now exceeds a billion people, what would you say is the potential for mobile money? With the record level adoption in some parts of Africa already like East Africa, the future of Africa is mobilemoney and many Government’s cashless initiatives and policies is helping to push the frontiers.  Mobilemoney is moving into main stream financial services in many parts of Africa. In future, some younger generation may interact with money first time via money rather than physical cash. Infrastructure is still an issue, from power, to the millions of people who do not have access to cell phones, what can be done for the mobile market industry to live its full potential? The Infrastructure challenge is still there but we are seeing improvements yearly. Government privatization efforts is moving power generation and distribution from inefficient government owned monopolies to better managed private sector enterprises.We expect significant improvements in coming years. Mobile subscription in Africa is growing rapidly with some countries nearing 90 percent penetration. Ghana and many others are in this category. Nigeria with a population of 160 million has over 110 million mobile subscriptions though impressive but many still lack access to a mobile network coverage or even a mobile device due to economy disadvantage. Can you give us statistics on the industry in Africa, in which countries is the industry growing fastest and what impediments are holding its progress back in others? East Africa is leading in the mobile money race with Kenya as the poster child of mobilemoney. There are more than 200 deployments worldwide with 100 in Africa and 47 of such in West Africa but Kenya with only 7 deployments transacts average of a 1 Billion USD daily according to latest figures released. In 2013, mobilemoney platforms transacted 300 billion usd in Kenya alone. The impediments faced by many others may be due to regulation, inadequate agency network and  non availability of mass access channels like Sim tool kit, USSD needed to reach the masses. [caption id="attachment_7997" align="alignright" width="247"]EMMANUEL OKOEGWALE EMMANUEL OKOEGWALE[/caption] In what ways could governments help in creating the appropriate climate for an ambitious industry like yours to reach its potential? Governments are contributing by way of regulation which creates certainty and appropriates risk in the industry. Many governments are scrambling now to put in place regulation for mobile financial services where they do not currently have, some are reviewing and updating current policies in line with the realities and needs of the industry. In what way do folks in the mobile money industry guard against fraudsters? Fraud is a universal phenomenon and mobile money industry is not excluded however any decent provider will put in place sound risk management processes to prevent fraud and mitigate the effects in case of occurrence. Central Banks around Africa are mandating certain security standards that will help manage and reduce fraud to the barest minimum in the sector. Most of the frauds that had been experienced were those committed internally due to weak governance structure and poorly trained agency network providers. To those who will be interested in joining the expo after this interview, what do they need to do, what does it take to be part of Expo 2014? Three ways to participate namely sign up as speaker but we are pretty over loaded in that aspect now, take up an exhibition space and lastly register as a delegate at www.mobilemoneyexpo.com What next after the expo, any other events of a similar nature slated for the rest of the year? Like I mentioned, the event is annual and the rest of the year is devoted to smaller workshops while we work towards the 2015 agenda.            ]]>

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