Mobile Water Payment Innovations in Urban Africa

Evaluating the uptake of mobile water payments in urban Africa
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This report examines the impacts and implications of mobile water payments with a comparative assessment from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia. It analyzes levels of adoption, customer motivations and barriers, and the distribution of costs and benefits across stakeholders. Evidence from 20 urban water service providers (WSP) serving over 12.5 million customers is evaluated against the deployment strategies of mobile network operators (MNOs) and the responses of national water service regulators. The report concludes by identifying mobile payment applications that could help low-income and vulnerable groups tackle ongoing service delivery challenges relating to public standpipes, pre-paid metering, and rural water supplies. Its findings include:

  • Key barriers to adoption are delayed reconciliation of billing systems, limited customer awareness, high transaction tariffs, and convenience of alternative pay points;
  • High time and cost savings were revealed as principal motivations for adoption, with women benefiting most from time savings;
  • Technological, behavioral, and structural constraints currently hinder greater customer uptake of mobile water payments throughout the region;
  • WSPs should strengthen their financial base through timelier bill payments, higher collection efficiencies, and lower administrative costs;
  • Transaction tariff structure, regulatory position, and competition determine these costs and benefit distribution.

About this Publication

By Hope, R.A., Foster, T., Krolikowski, A. & Cohen, I.