Case Study

Following Mobile Money in Somaliland

Shedding light on issues of legitimacy and trust and the relationship between the state and citizens

Zaad, Somaliland’s first mobile money platform, was launched in 2009 and has rapidly become a feature of a financial landscape hitherto dominated by Somali remittance companies. This report charts the distribution of mobile money across the financial landscape of Somaliland. It examines the way the Zaad service is reshaping livelihoods and business practices, as well as implications of its popularity for the relationship between state and non-state actors, and the effect this might have on Somaliland’s political and financial institutions.

It argues that the narrative of the role that mobile systems can have in supporting financial inclusion runs the risk of obscuring complex political and economic dynamics, especially in the context of Somaliland’s state-building process. The study suggests that the popularity of Zaad is in part due to the specific context in which it operates as well as the business model and outreach strategy of its parent company Telesom. Fundamentally, in the absence of international banks, Zaad meets a widespread demand to help people cope with a volatile economic situation.

About this Publication

By Iazzolino, G.