Kenya is fast becoming one of the world’s tech hubs. In the last decade, the country has seen a massive technological surge. So much so that the region is now referred to as the Silicon Savannah. Many consider Kenya a benchmark for tech innovation across the entire continent.
The East African region is taking its new role very seriously. It wasn’t long ago that the government invested another $210 million into ICT, fuelling projects like Konza Technopolis. Konza Technopolis is a developing smart city on par with the best in the world. The National Optic Fibre Expansion is also well underway. It all goes to demonstrate just how fast innovation is occurring nationwide.
At the centre of Kenya’s tech surge is the mobile money market.
The Mobile Money Phenomenon
Financial technology or FinTech is driving innovation in Kenya. The country has seen a push towards mobile money, bolstered by increased mobile phone penetration. Combined with increased internet connectivity, FinTech has become a significant path for further development.
In essence, Kenyans may now send and receive money more effortlessly than ever before. Mobile money networks are fast, easy, and very accessible. This, in turn, has given many Kenyans the confidence to establish their own businesses. So, it isn’t surprising that the country is now amongst the biggest mobile money markets in the world. Only China is ahead and may soon be left behind themselves.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that 35 million Kenyans make up the local mobile money network. In more detail, mobile transactions totalled Ksh9.4 million in 2020. That number skyrocketed to Ksh15.3 million in 2021.
M-Pesa Rules the Local Market
Ruling over the Kenyan mobile money market is M-Pesa. M-Pesa is, in turn, owned by Safaricom. The company controls 99% of the market, making them a financial behemoth. In fact, Safaricom is recognised as a global player due primarily to mobile transaction revenue.
Thanks to FinTech, other areas of Kenya are seeing a boost. Agriculture, telecommunication and power are all benefiting. Most of all, online betting benefits. The truth is that an enormous source of revenue for Safaricom is online betting transactions. All betting site deposits and withdrawals are through M-Pesa, and by extension, Safaricom.
Boosting Local Development
The company revealed that betting transactions are their second biggest source of revenue. To put it into perspective, Kenyans spend Ksh463 million betting daily. A percentage of this goes directly to Safaricom.
Of course, Safaricom isn’t the only organisation that gets a percentage. The government also gets its piece of the pie. Betting revenue is taxed, which means that the state is also benefiting in a big way. Betting tax collected is diverted into infrastructure and other developments.
It can be said that the mobile money market is the best economic boost Kenya has seen in some time. There is no telling how far the technological surge will go and how much it will elevate the country.