March, 2014 No Comments Career, Cover Stories

Zoona was honoured to be awarded a prestigious continental Kalahari Award for the “Best Use of Mobile Money in Africa” at the 2014 Mobile Money Expo that was held last month in Lagos, Nigeria. This is in recognition of the innovative ways in which Zoona is using mobile money to promote financial inclusion for all and contribute to the development of the financial sector in Southern Africa.

The theme for the expo was ‘Promoting financial inclusion through the use of mobile money’  and it was hosted by Mobile Money Africa, an organization that recognizes mobile money initiatives across the continent. I was asked to do a presentation on ‘Being deliberate about financial inclusion in strategy‘ and you can download a copy of it by clicking here

You can also download a copy of our press release here

Did the honours of jotting down my thoughts on the whole trip below:

– Day 1: Day before the conference started
Arrived at 9 pm and was picked up by one of my friends there. It was hot and humid and it took 40 mins+ to clear immigration. Excited to be in Lagos. Such bustling energy! Lots of traffic and pedestrians on the street even at night.
– Day 2: Day one of conference 
The conference was well organized. There were 3 segments for discussion each day with about 4-5 presentations from different companies in each segment plus a panel discussion where people were allowed to ask questions. On day one discussions were categorised as follows:
1. Delivering  innovations to scale up mobile financial services adoption in Africa.
2. Enabling merchant businesses with Mobile financial services in Africa (this is where we were featured).
3. Building  public trust identification systems and innovative customer enrolment  applications  to deliver mass financial services.
I delivered the presentation and some of the questions that were asked in the panel directly to me was around how we incentivise our distributors to keep using our system, whether our agent Sandra’s results were typical of most agents, what our coverage around Zambia is and our relationship with the regulator.
– Day 3: Day two of conference and awards 
People were a little tired on this day and some were rushing out by 5 oclock to catch flights so just as well we got a day one slot as it got us lots of attention. The 3 segments for discussion were:
1. Evaluating technology requirements to bridge the financial services gap for Micro finance, agency Banking and Mobile financial services.
2. Insuring and protecting the bottom of the pyramid leveraging the mobile technology.
3. Building and incentivising the agency Network.
– Awards
Awards were presented thereafter and I wrote down the bulk of them but some of note were:
– Best Micro-insurance: Micro Ensure
– Fastest growth and expansion: Airtel Money
– Best mobile money innovation: EcoCash
– Best mobile money platform: mFino –
General thoughts
– A loud observation for me was how under represented women were at the expo (+/-10%). Of the 31 speakers on the line-up of presenters only 3 were women (with an additional one running a short workshop in between day 2 presentations). We clearly need more women in the ICT sector and at such big industry events!
– After this conference I want to go to the central Bank of Zambia and kiss everyone in the payments department … on the mouth 🙂 ! There are some horrid regulators out there! Heard horror stories of regulators who are just counter-productive and/or non-responsive/don’t engage. So it felt like Zambia was pretty ‘forward’ in that aspect. Thank you BOZ for being an engaged, listening and supportive regulator to payment systems and mobile money operators in Zambia. We are truly in this together and with your continued support we shall certainly change the financial landscape of Zambia to one that is supremely inclusive of everyone at different levels of society
– Days 4 and 5
Spent the weekend with friends there and fell sick from the ‘new food’ (its super spicy and oily) but was well taken care of by my friends Julie who lives in Lagos and hosted me for the weekend and Joy who traveled all the way from Oweri to see me.
Below are some pics from the event
Lelemba in Lagos 1 Lelemba in Lagos 2 Lelemba in Lagos 3 Lelemba in Lagos 4 Lelemba in Lagos 5 Lelemba in Lagos 6 Lelemba in Lagos 7 Lelemba in Lagos 8