Mobile money penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has substantially grown over the last decade. A 2014 data compiled by a firm called Findex Database witnesses that 30 percent of adults have mobile money accounts in the region. However, Ethiopia’s share per the same source is kept between 0-4 percent. Most countries of the region have used the technology to facilitate financial accessibility, particularly to the rural community.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Ethiopian banks, both public and private ones, are expanding branches across the length and breadth of the country. But still, as compared with the big size of the rural population, the number of bank branches and agents—i.e., 4,300 and 10,500 respectively- is so insignificant.
The majority of the rural population of Ethiopia cannot easily access banking services. Often, people have to march miles to undertake financial transactions at nearby towns. The inaccessibility of the service and the ensuing low awareness of modern banking has created a good niche, among others, for insecure, unsafe and inconvenient savings, if at all leading to poor saving culture.
To make matters worse, bank branches and agents have a higher concentration in urban areas, keeping high the percentage of the unbanked population of the rural community.
The government has to keep on expanding telecom infrastructure while working on the efficiency of network coverage. Banks of all kinds as well should work in concert with pertinent national and international entities specializing in financial areas, communication and the like to expand the services and promote financial inclusion.