Mobile Money Ecosystem in Somalia

Usages of Mobile Money

Mobile phone penetration is very high in Somalia, with as many as 92% of Somalis above 16 owning one or more phones.

Mobile money usage is widespread with 80% of people being mobile money users. Of those, 76% own a mobile money account and an additional 4% either use an account of someone they know, or perform an over-the-counter transaction with an agent or at a shop.

Mobile money is relatively more used by urban residents and nomads, with 78% of urban residents and 86% of nomads having personally subscribed to mobile money, versus 66% of rural residents and 60% of IDPs. The penetration rate for nomads is high as nomads spend prolonged periods of time on the move and need a phone/mobile money for communication purposes, ordering goods remotely and emergency situations - 96% of nomads who use mobile money agree that mobile money fits well their lifestyle. Nomads are also more likely to have subscribed to mobile money to cope with the drought.

Mobile money is widely used by Somali women, which creates opportunities for closing gender inequalities.

59% of the most vulnerable households subscribed to mobile money services in the last 1-2 years, which signals a very high adoption of mobile money among the most vulnerable during the last drought. The least vulnerable were the fastest to adopt mobile money, with about 75% subscribing to mobile money before the drought started.

9% started using mobile money to cope with the drought, and 8% started using it to facilitate their move from their former places of residence or in anticipation of moving.

Mobile money was the most common transfer modality to receive financial assistance during the drought, with 58% of people using mobile money either through their own account, that of someone else or performing an Over-The-Counter transaction. By comparison, Hawala transfers were only used by 14%.

Mobile money as a modality was a key mechanism to cope with the drought, notably to channel key sources of assistance and income (assistance from friends and families, transfers from NGOs) and support critical purchases.

Sending and receiving money domestically as well as paying for groceries are the most commonly used services across population categories. Receiving money from abroad through mobile money is also common, although much less so for the most vulnerable. Using mobile money for borrowing purposes is most common among the most vulnerable.

Somalis value mobile money for increased ease in performing financial transactions and savings gained in time and money. Access to financial services through mobile money has contributed to reducing vulnerability. Indirect positive impacts on resilience include savings in time and money, and increased connectedness to the family and community, which is also important in times of crisis.

Phone ownership
Mobile money account subscription
Timeline of subscription
Reasons for using mobile money
Perceived benefits of mobile money
Opinion on whether mobile money is helpful during…
Channels that were used to receive financial assistance during drought