Mobile money has revolutionised financial services in East Africa, starting with M-Pesa in Kenya and spreading from there. The global association of mobile phone network operators, GSMA, has recently published a report on mobile money in Tanzania (pdf), which included the following chart, showing the total value of mobile money transactions each year since 2007:
Two things are worth highlighting here. First, though Kenya was undoubtedly the trendsetter here, Tanzania is fast catching up, and looks set to overtake Kenya during 2014.
Second, take another look at the Y-axis label on the left. These figures are in billion US$. In other words, the total value of mobile money transactions in Tanzania in 2013 was US$17.7 billion. This is a huge amount – equivalent to over half (54%) of Tanzania’s GDP*.
Which means in one sense Tanzania has already overtaken Kenya, where the value of mobile money transactions in 2013 was “only” 49% of GDP*:
That makes me wonder if Tanzania is the first country in the world where mobile money transactions are worth more than half the country’s GDP? I think it probably is.
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* GDP Estimates are from the IMF. For 2013, these were as follows: Tanzania US$32.5bn, Kenya US$45bn
Further reading: Tanzania telcos in Africa’s first ‘interoperable’ mobile money pact