The number of mobile subscribers as well as the penetration rate for mobile phones grew more than fourfold in Africa over the period 2005-2012 (Figure VII.1). Nigeria counts the largest number of subscriptions, with 140 million subscribers. Egypt and South Africa follow suit with respectively 78.3 and 50.5 million subscriptions by end-2011. According to the GSM Association (GSMA)1 , 25 African countries have penetration rates that exceed 90%.
Africa is currently leading the trend of mobile financial services with over 56 deployments in place (see Box VII.1 for examples). Notably, Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for over 45% of the world’s total mobile money deployments (Map VII.1). A GSMA survey performed in June 2011 shows that East Africa has become the most active mobile money market in the World with 46% of mobile money transactions processed in June 2011 originating from the region.
The growth of mobile financial services in Africa has allowed millions of people who otherwise would have been excluded from the formal financial system to perform financial transactions relatively cheaply, securely, and reliably. For instance, in Kenya, where the M-Pesa service was commercially launched in 2007, 68% of adults report using mobile financial services (end 2011), out of which 43% do not have a formal account (Demirgüç-Kunt and Klapper, 2012).