Outgoing Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone has urged mobile money service providers to look into possibilities of expanding their services by increasing agent networks and addressing agent liquidity management issues in order to better serve their customer.

Momodu Lamin Kargbo

Momodu L. Kargbo was speaking at The Place Resort, Tokeh, outside Freetown, during the opening of a three-day West African Sub-Regional workshop on mobile financial services.

He said such a move by mobile money service providers would attract more customers, thereby increasing their customer base and support the bank’s effort in promoting financial inclusion.

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He said that following its introduction in 2010, the mobile money financial service provider (SPLASH) grew tremendously with a client base of 30 outlets and 10,000 clients to 150 outlets with 50,000 registered clients in just six months.

“The Bank of Sierra Leone has made tremendous strides to develop the mobile money ecosystem. We launched the mobile money financial services guidelines on November 17, 2015,” he said and implored participants to make the sessions as interactive as possible.

Mr. Kargbo said the forum was of great importance to the bank in view of their determination to use telecommunication as an avenue to ensure that many Sierra Leoneans as possible are included in the formal financial system of the country.

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According to him, the rapid growth in mobile money in Africa was a phenomenon with few precedents in the history of finance and banking, plus implications which are likely to prove profound for the financial sector, business and public policy.

“In this three-day event, we will hear and discuss both the results of academic research and the views of industry professionals and practitioners. Mobile banking has already had a major impact on broadening access to basic financial services in Africa,” the Bank Governor noted.

Meanwhile, a release by the Bank notes that West Africa has lagged behind other parts of Africa in utilising mobile money.

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“Mobile money has improved financial inclusion, increased saving rates, and formalised businesses across much of Africa. However, whilst mobile money has expanded rapidly in East Africa, penetration remains low in West Africa. For example, mobile money penetration has reached 90% in Kenya and only 9% in Ghana,” said the release.

It says the workshop brought together researchers, policymakers, and private sector representatives from the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone to share lessons learnt on mobile money from across Sub-Saharan Africa, and discuss how to address policy and regulatory challenges and opportunities and how it can be promoted in West Africa.