M-Pesa Service in Tanzania Gets U.S.$4.8 Million Boost

Telecoms

Vodacom Tanzania received a 4.8-million-US-dollar (about 7.2bn/-) grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to improve Vodafone M-PESA service in the country.

Vodacom Managing Director, Dietlof Mare, said that the grant aims to improve the lives of Tanzanians as Vodacom believes that financial inclusion is possible through the use of Vodafone M-PESA.

"Vodacom will use the money to increase the awareness and service benefits of Vodafone M-Pesa specifically to those living in remote parts of the country", he noted, adding:

"Tanzania has a highly dispersed population of around 40 million, which severely restricts access to financial services. Today only two million Tanzanians have access to a bank account while over 18 million are mobile phone users".

According to Mare, Vodacom has been singled out to receive the grant because the company laid the groundwork for the uptake of mobile money transfer services in the country and has invested greatly in the technology.

It is estimated that about five million people are using the M-PESA service in Tanzania. He said that with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Financial Services for the Poor initiative, Vodacom will extend this service to reach the wider "unbanked" community.

The grant was announced yesterday by Melinda French Gates at the Global Savings Forum in Seattle, Washington, as a part of the foundation's 500-million-US-dollar pledge to expand access to savings accounts and help the world's poor build financial security.

The pledge included a package of six grants, totalling 40 million US dollars, from the foundation's Financial Services for the Poor initiative, to support projects and partnerships that will bring quality, affordable savings accounts and other financial services to the doorsteps of the poor in the developing world.

"Savings doesn't just help people mitigate the risks posed by a medical emergency or a bad crop," said Gates at the foundation-hosted event. "It also gives them the ability to marshal their resources to build something better for themselves and their children.

It allows them to fund their own businesses, to look ahead with confidence. Savings help families to take the giant leap from reacting to events to planning for a healthier, happier future."