Angola’s digital development is speeding up as Africell launches mobile financial services in the country. Backed by Angola’s newest mobile network operator, the Afrimoney mobile money platform will provide essential financial tools to many of the approximately 50% of Angolans who don’t have bank accounts. Through their mobile phones, Afrimoney users will be able to transact digitally with other individuals and organisations on the network, gaining the ability to transfer, spend and earn instantly.
Angola’s mobile money industry has more scope for growth than most countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the GSMA, Angola has a “very low” mobile money prevalence. This means that mobile money adoption, activity and accessibility in Angola is limited, despite the country’s relatively strong economy and mature banking system. Elsewhere in Africa, mobile money has received enthusiastic attention and investment, with over 150 services processing over $800bn worth of transactions in 2022. In Angola it hasn’t. As a result, Angola’s large unbanked population isn’t fully connected to its formal economy.
Afrimoney will changing this, explains Kátia Da Conceição, Director of Afrimoney Angola.
“Mobile money is highly beneficial to those who rely on cash in their daily activities”, she says. “These are often people in low-income or marginalised communities. Reliance on cash causes problems. Afrimoney is harnessing growing mobile penetration in Angola to offer users a simple, safe and accessible alternative, accessed through mobile phones”.
In other African countries, mobile money services have increased financial inclusion and narrowed gender inequality. (Mobile money gives women more opportunities to control their own finances). According to the World Bank, however, Angola underperforms on many measures of financial inclusion, in part due to the persistent barrier between those with access to financial services and those without. The introduction of an effective mobile money service to Angola will potentially bring millions of people into the formal economy and shrink the distance between the unbanked, underbanked and fully banked. Afrimoney will boost sectors such as transport, which are currently held back by a dependence on cash, and will create income opportunities for thousands of agents. It will also enable quicker direct payments to ordinary Angolans by the government and NGOs.
Africell started mobile network services in Angola in April 2022 and the launch of Afrimoney only a year later is a significant milestone.
“Africell came to Angola with a mandate to change its telecoms sector”, says Ziad Dalloul, CEO, President and Founder of Africell Group. “Launching Afrimoney is a critical step in this strategy. Our network is designed to help customers be better connected, live more efficiently, and access a wide range of digital services. Mobile money has the potential to link everything together, and we expect it to have a huge impact on our business and Angola’s economy”.
Africell is the only US-owned network operator in Africa, with the U.S. government (through the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, or DFC) its biggest external investor. Afrimoney’s launch in Angola demonstrates real progress in the U.S. Government’s strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa, a central objective of which is to “strengthen digital ecosystems” on the continent.
The U.S. is the main bilateral overseas development assistance donor to Africa, and the launch of Afrimoney exemplifies U.S. government success in encouraging American companies to invest more in Africa’s digital sector through partnerships with agencies beyond the core “development” institutions.
The launch of Afrimoney also represents a success for Angola’s government, which is pursuing a long-term economic strategy focused on digital services and technology.
After years of under-investment in Angola’s mobile sector, Africell’s arrival has shaken things up by reducing prices and improving network standards. A high-quality mobile money service directly integrated with a major network operator will accelerate this broader reform program, cutting the gap between Angola and other African countries with more established mobile money sectors. The process of launching Afrimoney has been conducted in close collaboration with the National Bank of Angola (BNA).
To welcome new users, Africell Angola will offer new Afrimoney customers free person-to-person transactions and 100% bonus on all mobile recharges paid for using mobile money. In time, the Afrimoney platform intends to incorporate financial services including credit, saving and insurance.