At least 200,000 families have been saved from extreme poverty by mobile phones, a new report from GSM Association shows. The global lobby for telecommunications service providers determined that thousands of families in Kenya have been pulled out of poverty mainly because they own a mobile phone.
“In Kenya, access to mobile money has lifted two per cent of households (almost 200,000 households) out of poverty. In rural Uganda, evidence shows that mobile money can improve the welfare of rural households by smoothing consumption and curbing poverty,” said GSMA in the report.
The report looks at the impact the telecommunications industry has had on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) globally.
“Mobile money has helped reduce the financial exclusion gap in low and medium-income countries. There were more than one billion registered mobile money accounts by the end of 2019, representing an increase of 460 million since 2015.” added the report.
The report also says that most individuals who are likely to be excluded from financial services have gained a lot from mobile money options.
In Kenya, the use of Mpesa is widespread with a penetration of 98.9 percent of Kenya’s entire subscriber base. Mobile money helps users manage their cash flow, handle risk and build working capital as well as giving them access to loans.
The lobby also noted that mobile money has helped families to save and better handle unexpected life crises affecting their income or assets such as health, environmental calamities or like the most recent Covid-19 pandemic which came with job losses, salary reductions and overall financial shock.
Apart from fostering financial inclusions and a saving culture, mobile phones also provides families with easier access to markets for their farm produce.
Users of smartphones get better advantage as they are able to access better-paying markets on e-commerce platforms and access better farm input at lower prices through similar platforms.