Behavioral change tops challenges for mobile money use in West Africa

Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji

"Sierra Leone is about half the size of Zimbabwe, so assuming the same cost per head, we could easily be looking at a $25 million spending spree just to blitz the market and build the distribution network to support our services," Osei-Antwi added.

Nonie believes sales promotions are needed, including long-term investments by mobile money companies for as much as $100,000 to $250,000 for subsidizing purchases made with mobile money.

Also, a new idea like mobile money needs an ecosystem of institutions championing it and encouraging people and organizations to give it a try, said Osei-Antwi. As with most new technologies, there will be early adopters, but most people will need some time to build trust in the mobile money services before giving them a try.

"I have no doubt that mobile money will change the face of Africa's financial services sector within the next 10 years," Osei-Antwi said. "As we've already seen, things will pick up faster in some countries than others. For Sierra Leone, I think the growing credibility from working with organizations like NPA, DSTV, government institutions, international NGOs and others will help us to really penetrate the market this year."

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