South Sudan okays plan to expand mobile money services

South Sudan on Friday granted license to a local private company to commence mobile money and electronic cash transfer in a bid to widen financial inclusion targeting millions of impoverished people without access to financial services.

Ladu Wani Kenyi, director general of National Communication Authority (NCA), the telecom regulator, said they have granted operating licenses to Trinity Technologies and another unnamed company to start transacting mobile money and electronic cash transfers in the country and across the region.

“In the last month, NCA has engaged with Trinity Technologies for granting of a license for the platform that will provide electronic and mobile money services in South Sudan. This process has come to end and NCA has granted Trinity Technologies this license,” Kenyi told reporters in Juba.

Most people in South Sudan’s capital have been relying on small unlicensed mobile operators to transfer money enabled by the platform created by MTN Uganda and Kenya’s M-Pesa platforms.

Kenyi said the unlicensed transactions have been ongoing because there was no alternative due to the fact that over 1 million South Sudanese live in neighboring countries with the majority of them having fled conflicts, hence the need for mobile money transfer.

“From today this thing is going to happen when Trinity Technologies deploy its platform, and then also there is another company already licensed. These shops are going to be closed because now we are going to start with the mobile and electronic money services in the country that are really licensed,” he said.

South Sudan has an estimated 4 million people with access to mobile phones out of 12 million population.

Kenyi disclosed that they hope this development will improve financial services in a country struggling to reinvigorate its battered economy after five years of conflict since December 2013.

“One of the conditions is that the platform has to inter-connect and inter-operate with any other licensed platform or licensed telecom mobile operator so that at least everybody can be able to put the money into their accounts and not carry cash,” said Kenyi.

The major telecom companies still operating in South Sudan include MTN and Zain after Lebanese-owned telecom Vivacell was forced to shut down over license row with authorities.

Richard Raja, director of Trinity Technologies, said the mobile money transfer project is going to transform the economy by creating a cashless society and technology development.

“We have put out a plan of action to take mobile money to every nook and corner of the country. We are not going to restrict to Juba. We are opening offices across all the 33 States of the country,” he said, adding that it will generate employment in the country.

Raja also disclosed that they are setting up a massive merchant network and also agent network across all regions and towns in the country.

“We have a challenge on infrastructure in our country. The only infrastructure we have is the telecom network across the country. So we expect electricity to come to Juba in the next four months we will have the grid running,” said Raja.