Telecom company, Airtel Uganda has launched a new project with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) aimed at scaling up digital financial inclusion among the population in Northern Uganda and West Nile.
The project to be undertaken by the telecom company’s mobile money arm, Airtel Mobile Commerce Uganda Limited and seeks to ensure deepening of digital financial services for the population targets 300 new Airtel Money agents, 400 Airtel Pay merchants and 500,000 active Airtel Money customers to reach the targeted one million newly registered Airtel Money customers in the North and West Nile regions of Uganda.
“Penetration of digital financial services into rural Uganda is often challenged by limited digital and financial infrastructure as well as inadequate access to affordable phones and the lack of relevant product offerings for women, youth, refugees and other vulnerable sectors of society. Our work with UNCDF will enable us to deliver more service points in remote rural areas, helping to improve Uganda’s financial inclusion and driving digital growth for the wider economy,” said Manoj Murali, the Airtel Uganda Managing Director.
He said the project is aimed at supporting the Uganda National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2017 – 2022, to ensure women, youth and rural populations at large are reached by services of the finance sector.
The project will also be aimed at building the digital infrastructure necessary to broaden savings, investment, insurance and reduce barriers to access to financial services.
“While digital services are key in contributing to the attainment of sustainable development goals in Uganda and the world over, many people unfortunately still find it challenging to tap into this opportunity due to limited or lack of connectivity, devices, and client-centered digital services. By partnering with mobile telecom operators and digital money providers such as Airtel, UNCDF taps into the market systems development approach to incentivize digital finance and digital innovation enablers to enter markets they may otherwise overlook, while addressing market challenges like improving infrastructure for connectivity and efficiencies for mobile money agents, and merchant payment points,” said Mike McCaffrey the UNCDF Digital Regional Manager for East and Southern Africa.
Speaking at the same function, the acting UCC Executive Director, Irene Ssewankambo Kaggwa welcomed the partnership that she said would be of great benefit to the communities in the targeted areas.
“As UCC, we take pride in supporting stakeholders who leverage on technology to implement the national financial inclusion strategy. As the regulator, we pledge to provide an enabling environment that promotes digital financial services in the country,”Kaggwa said.
As part of the project, Airtel and UNCDF will help recruit and train as many Airtel money agents as possible but also encourage the public in the North and West Nile parts of the country to make regular use of digital financial platforms like mobile money to pay for groceries, medical and education services among others.