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Infrastructure deficiencies and adoption of mobile money in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Mothobi, Onkokame
  • Grzybowski, Lukasz


We use survey data conducted in 11 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2011 to analyze how the availability of physical infrastructure influences adoption of mobile phones and usage of mobile services. The availability of physical service infrastructure is approximated by data on nighttime light intensity in the areas in which survey respondents reside. After controlling for a number of individual and household characteristics including disposable income, we find that adoption of mobile phones is higher in areas with better physical infrastructure. However, mobile phone users who live in areas with poor infrastructure are more likely to rely on mobile phones to make financial transactions than individuals living in areas with better infrastructure. On the other hand, the use of mobile phones to access services such as email, skype, social media networks and Internet browsing is not dependent on the availability of physical infrastructure. Our results support the notion that mobile phones improve the livelihood of individuals residing in remote areas by providing them with access to financial services which are otherwise not available physically.

Suggested Citation

  • Mothobi, Onkokame & Grzybowski, Lukasz, 2017. "Infrastructure deficiencies and adoption of mobile money in Sub-Saharan Africa," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 71-79.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:40:y:2017:i:c:p:71-79
    DOI: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2017.05.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Malm, Meagan K. & Toyama, Kentaro, 2021. "The burdens and the benefits: Socio-economic impacts of mobile phone ownership in Tanzania," World Development Perspectives, Elsevier, vol. 21(C).
    4. Luc Jacolin & Joseph Keneck Massil & Alphonse Noah, 2021. "Informal sector and mobile financial services in emerging and developing countries: Does financial innovation matter?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(9), pages 2703-2737, September.
    5. Cariolle, Joël, 2021. "International connectivity and the digital divide in Sub-Saharan Africa," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C).
    6. Alfonso Siano & Lukman Raimi & Maria Palazzo & Mirela Clementina Panait, 2020. "Mobile Banking: An Innovative Solution for Increasing Financial Inclusion in Sub-Saharan African Countries: Evidence from Nigeria," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(23), pages 1-24, December.
    7. Lorna Katusiime, 2021. "Mobile Money Use: The Impact of Macroeconomic Policy and Regulation," Economies, MDPI, vol. 9(2), pages 1-19, April.
    8. Serge Ky & Clovis Rugemintwari & Alain Sauviat, 2019. "Friends or foes? Mobile money interaction with formal and informal finance," Working Papers hal-02000982, HAL.
    9. Georges V. Houngbonon & Erwan Le Quentrec & Stefania Rubrichi, 2021. "Access to electricity and digital inclusion: evidence from mobile call detail records," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 8(1), pages 1-11, December.
    10. Houngbonon, Georges V. & Le Quentrec, Erwan, 2019. "Access to Electricity and ICT Usage: A Country-level Assessment on Sub-Saharan Africa," 2nd Europe – Middle East – North African Regional ITS Conference, Aswan 2019: Leveraging Technologies For Growth 201728, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    11. Joël Cariolle & David Carroll, 2020. "The Use of Digital for Public Service Provision in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers hal-03004535, HAL.
    12. Jenny Aker & David Carroll, 2022. "The State of Digital Financial Services in Francophone West Africa," Working Papers hal-03642499, HAL.
    13. Komlan Gbongli & Yongan Xu & Komi Mawugbe Amedjonekou, 2019. "Extended Technology Acceptance Model to Predict Mobile-Based Money Acceptance and Sustainability: A Multi-Analytical Structural Equation Modeling and Neural Network Approach," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(13), pages 1-33, July.
    14. Barry, Mamadou Saliou & Creti, Anna, 2020. "Pay-as-you-go contracts for electricity access: Bridging the “last mile” gap? A case study in Benin," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C).
    15. Oluwarotimi Ayokunnu Owolabi & Asa-Ruth Oboku Oku & Abidemi Alejo & Toun Ogunbiyi & Jeremiah Ifeanyi Ubah, 2021. "Access to Electricity, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and Financial Development: Evidence From West Africa," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 11(2), pages 247-259.
    16. Ky, Serge Stéphane & Rugemintwari, Clovis & Sauviat, Alain, 2021. "Friends or Foes? Mobile money interaction with formal and informal finance," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1).
    17. Mamadou Saliou Barry & Anna Creti, 2020. "Pay-as-you-go contracts for electricity access: bridging the « last mile » gap? A case study in Benin," Working Papers 2006, Chaire Economie du climat.
    18. Koomson, Isaac & Bukari, Chei & Villano, Renato A, 2021. "Mobile money adoption and response to idiosyncratic shocks: Empirics from five selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 167(C).
    19. Luc Jacolin & Massil Keneck & Alphonse Noah, 2019. "Informal Sector and Mobile Financial Services in Developing Countries: Does Financial Innovation Matter?," Working papers 721, Banque de France.
    20. Hisahiro Naito & Shinnosuke Yamamoto, 2022. "Is Better Access to Mobile Networks Associated with Increased Mobile Money Adoption? Evidence from the Micro-data of Six Developing Countries," Tsukuba Economics Working Papers 2022-001, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba.
    21. Scott Burns, 2018. "M‐Pesa and the ‘Market‐Led’ Approach to Financial Inclusion," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(3), pages 406-421, October.

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    More about this item


    Mobile money; M-Pesa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Nighttime light data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications


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