Electronic money transfer improves in Somalia
Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:47PM
After two decades of war in Somalia, the country is taking its first steps towards a modern electronic state. Several mobile phone companies are now providing Somalis with mobile money transfer systems. The technology is the first of its kind in south and central Somalia.The Somali capital, Mogadishu is regenerating with businesses re-opening up and life springing back to its streets after two decades of civil war and Al-Shabaab militancy. Somalis are fast embracing the power of technology thanks to the prevailing security and stability in Mogadishu. Somalia's major telecom firms Hormuud and Nationlink pioneered mobile money transfers EVC Plus and E-Maal, and besides transferring cash to friends and relatives, the service allows one to pay water and power bills. The system is the first of its kind in south and central Somalia and has made it easy for people to trade and buy basic commodities from the market. The mobile phone service providers argue that the new service is expected to cut security risks posed by carrying huge wads of the Somali currency around the open city markets. Registering for the service is free and one can send money to as far as the semi-autonomous northern regions of Somalia. Once consumers have registered for the EVC plus and E-Maal services, they can deposit cash with the mobile phone and send to other people signed up for the service at the click of a button. For almost two decades the banking sector remained under-developed with little outreach outside the main urban centers, paving way for mobile transfers to become a popular means of money transfer. Despite two decades of anarchy in the Horn of Africa nation, the country's mobile phone firms continue to provide a crucial, cheap lifeline for Somalis to stay in touch with friends and family. A 3G (third generation) network was launched on 29th December by Somalia’s leading telecommunication operator Hormuud Telecom that has more than a million subscribers to allow mobile and computer based users to enjoy fast internet service from the comfort of their homes and offices. For the first time ever, Mogadishu hosted the Social Good Summit in September that brought together those using new technology in Somalia to talk about the impact it is having in their country. The participants of the Social Good Summit debated on the power of innovative thinking and how technology can be harnessed to solve the world’s greatest challenges.