Africa: Mobile Phone Technology to Help Women Access Financial Services
Mobile phone technology can help bring financial services to the 80 per cent of African women who do not have a bank account.Mobile phone technology can help bring financial services to the 80 per cent of African women who do not have a bank account, Nigeria's finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said on Monday (November 24th).
A dozen government, finance and business leaders were meeting in Nairobi to roll out a plan to bring financial services to more poor African women.
According to Okonjo-Iweala:
"Unless we can make access to finance easier for women in their businesses, we will be missing out on a significant portion of growth within our economies."
The finance minister believes mobile banking is a key in this process. One example of how this technology works in practice is Nigeria’s Diamond Bank Beta saving account. Their sales representatives go to Lagos open-air market each day and open saving accounts for traders via mobile phone in a few minutes.
Kenya is also a leader in mobile banking. The challenge is that in poor families, the phone is often controlled by the man.
That is why Kenya Women Holding, the largest microfinance network in Kenya, wants to offer women loans to buy a mobile phone. "It's very important for empowering women and providing control," declared Jennifer Ririaa, chief executive at the financial institution.
These efforts should help reduce the gender gap in the use of formal financial services and promote growth, as according to experts, women are better at repaying loans and saving money than men.