We talk to East AfricaCom speaker Delia Dean, Project Manager BMGF-Mobile Money, MTN Uganda, ahead of the event to hear her thoughts on digital financial services in East Africa.Delia will be speaking at East AfricaCom this coming 6-7 May 2015 at the Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, view the agenda.
East AfricaCom: Please tell us about your role within MTN Uganda and the interplay with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?Delia Dean: I am the project Manager for the MTN- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Accelerator. Under a matched grant by MTN and the Gates Foundation, objectives of the grant activities are to extend Mobile Financial Service to the rural poor. Increase uses case of Mobile Money among the rural poor and extend and improve the Mobile Money agent footprint and Agent quality.
EAC: What are the trends you are seeing in the application of MFS across the region you cover?DD: In Uganda particularly, thanks to the research and technical assistance work done by Helix institute, Microsave and UNCDF, stakeholders (MFI’s, Commercial Banks, MNO’s etc) have become more aware of the opportunities in rural. There are now more discussions on strategy around making MFS affordable and scale able in the rural communities. I anticipate that starting this year we shall see various stakeholders pilot various models in extending their respective solutions to the rural masses.
DD: With respect to the MTN –BMGF Accelerator project our key milestones
for every objective, have a special focus on improving mobile money
activation and usage among rural women. Our product education drives
have a component that is specific to women.
EAC: How has gender become an issue in the effectiveness of digital financial services in rural areas?
EAC: One would assume the challenge stems around rural connectivity and education of what MFS can provide – is this a fair assumption or do the challenges run deeper than this?DD: In addition to connectivity and Education, stakeholders, having identified obstacles hampering the delivery and scaling up of MFS to rural areas, are individually and collectively are working to arrive at solution. Some of the challenges include;
- Industry regulatory and Policy matters
- MFS industry standards issues
- Research and development of products relevant to target market
- Commercial viability of delivering MFS to the bottom of the pyramid
- User awareness and education.
- Public & Private infrastructure
EAC: Please share with us what you are looking forward to at East Africacom 2015 and any message would you would like to deliver to the telceoms/ ICT community attending?DD: I am always looking to learn more about workable solutions that have been piloted elsewhere with regards to DFS in rural communities. Telecoms need to continue investing in R&D to arrive at scalable solutions for the rural poor. Someone has to be willing to be the first to test potential solutions in the market place.
For more information on East AfricaCom and to register, visit: www.comworldseries.com/eaafrica