Home Community Insights Sub-Saharan Africa Emerges as The Region With Highest Level of Mobile Money Adoption – Report

Sub-Saharan Africa Emerges as The Region With Highest Level of Mobile Money Adoption – Report

Sub-Saharan Africa Emerges as The Region With Highest Level of Mobile Money Adoption – Report

In a recent GSMA report, Sub-Saharan Africa has emerged as the region with the highest levels of mobile money adoption.

The region ranked first amongst other regions with 156 live services, 835 million registered accounts, $62 billion worth of transaction volume, and $912 worth of transaction value in 2023.

Mobile money’s significant positive impact on lives and livelihoods in Africa is evident in its contribution to the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which at the end of 2022 was more than $150 million billion or equivalent to increasing GDP by 3.7%.

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In East and West Africa where mobile money adoption is highest, GDP increased even more by 5.9% and 4.1% respectively by the end of 2022.

Over time, registered accounts have continued to surge significantly across the globe, with sub-Saharan Africa’s share of registered accounts increasing for two consecutive years to 48% in 2023, the highest since 2019.

In 2023, more than 70% of the growth in registered accounts were in Sub-Saharan Africa and a fifth in South Asia. Within Sub-Saharan Africa, West Africa’s share of registered accounts doubled between 2013 and 2023 while East Africa’s was almost halved. These two subregions, together with South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific account for more than 85% of all current registered mobile money accounts.

In 2023, there were 435 million active mobile money accounts. Like registered accounts, active account growth was slower in 2023 (9%) compared with 2022 (13%) and 2021 (15%). More than half of all active accounts are in Sub-Saharan Africa. While East Africa maintains a dominant share of active accounts, this is less than half its share in 2013.

Like registered accounts, West Africa’s share of active accounts more than doubled over the same period to 19%. In 2023, more than two-thirds of active account growth was in Sub-Saharan Africa while nearly a fifth was in South Asia.

At a regional level, activity rates in Sub-Saharan Africa fell from 29.7% in 2022 to 28.1% in 2023. This is mainly due to registered accounts growing faster than active accounts in a few markets, particularly where new services were launched. In other cases, such as in Kenya, the reintroduction of transaction charges that had been zero-rated during the COVID-19 pandemic influenced customer behavior.

Notably, agents remain a core part of the mobile money ecosystem and continue to play an important role in delivering and enabling services to customers. In 2023, mobile money agents digitized $307 billion (the total cash-in transactions), up 12% from 2022. This is more than two-thirds of all the money entering the mobile money ecosystem.

The number of registered and active agents continued to grow in 2023. Registered agents grew by 22% in 2023 to reach 18.6 million. Of these, 8.3 million were active on a monthly basis, 14% more than the previous year.

Most of this expansion came from Sub-Saharan Africa, where registered agents grew by a third, Active agent growth slowed, as much of the progress in 2022 was due to the launch of new services in Ethiopia and Nigeria. Home to nearly half of all registered agents in 2023, agents remain key to mobile money in West and East Africa.

In West Africa over the past few years, West Africa has led the growth in access to mobile money. The proportion of new registered accounts and new active 30-day accounts originating from West Africa has risen sharply since 2021.

In 2023, over a third of new registered and active 30-day accounts globally were from West Africa, more than any other region. Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal were the main drivers of growth in the region. West Africa’s vibrant mobile money ecosystem has developed differently from East Africa’s, with regulation playing an important role in how services have evolved and in the products mobile money providers offer.

For instance, West Africa had the highest regional share of inbound remittance payments. However, outward remittance payments are still not permitted for many countries in the region West Africa has also seen more non-mobile-network-operator (MNO)-led mobile money services emerge to compete with MNO-led providers. This has led to significant growth in use cases, such as merchant payments in Senegal, and some services focusing entirely on the business-to-business segment.

Much of the significant rise in agent networks globally in 2022 occurred in West Africa, with regulations in Nigeria driving this trend. With several mobile money providers now holding a license to operate in Nigeria, the country has seen a rapid rise in the use of digital financial services. This special feature focuses on how regulation, mobile money providers and investment has impacted access to financial services and financial inclusion in the region.

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