U bood dhigaalka

Centring Somalia’s mobile money ecosystem in global debates


The recent GSMA report puts Africa at the forefront of the mobile money revolution. In 2021, the industry processed over $1 trillion in transactions — 70% of which were in Africa alone. In Somalia, digital payments have transformed our economy. Not least because of the scale of mobile money proliferation.

Approximately 155 million mobile money transactions are recorded in Somalia per month and over 70 percent of adult Somalis use mobile money services. This is not by chance. Since its inception, Hormuud carefully considered mobile money’s evolution and so designed our services to meet on-the-ground realities.

We knew that in a rapidly rebuilding country, with so much potential, we needed a way to safely transact in an environment where 98% of our currency is counterfeit. We have always been intentional in growing mobile money access — understanding how we can make this as easy as possible for the business community, as well as families and individuals.

This is why we introduced a mobile money service (EVC Plus) that is free at the point of use. This was, and continues to be, a key part of our business strategy. With 76 percent of Somalia’s population being unbanked, we believe that mobile money allows those who have been financially excluded to access the formal economy.

Continuing to chart the road ahead for digital payments is deeply intertwined with our wider development aims. Access to formal markets and financial institutions is on the rise — but we need to provide more digital infrastructure alongside fostering mobile money usage. Somali users have access to the cheapest data in Africa, and the third cheapest in the world. But without increased access this is meaningless.

Looking forward, while data is not currently needed to facilitate mobile money transfers, what our services (like the cheap mobile internet) have proven is that increasing rural 4G and smartphone access is crucial. Like the proliferation of mobile money, this increase in data access will unlock new potential for our customers. This will create a wider financial ecosystem of services and provide a multiplicity of benefits from e-healthcare to online education tools to training and skills provision.

We are excited to continue playing a role in, and continuing to prioritise, Somali innovation.

By Ahmed Mohamed Yusuf, CEO and Chairman, Hormuud Telecom