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Mobile money overtakes cash in Somalia

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By Margaret Njugunah

Approximately 155 million mobile money transactions worth US$2.7 billion are conducted in Somalia every month, making it one of the most active mobile money markets in the world.

According to a World Bank finding, mobile money has superseded the use of cash in the country, with over 70 percent of adult Somalis using mobile money services regularly.

Somalia outpaces most African countries in the market, despite its fragility and underdeveloped financial institutions.

Lead ICT policy specialist at the World Bank Tim Kelly says private sector actors have given Somalia a unique opportunity to leapfrog towards widespread financial inclusion.

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“World Bank will continue to support the partnership between the Central Bank of Somalia, the National Communications Authority and the key private sector actors as they deliberate on an appropriate regulatory framework for the sector,” Kelly said.

The country, however, lacks robust consumer protection and know-your-customer requirements.

The challenge for policymakers and regulators is how to mitigate system vulnerabilities and avoid macroeconomic effects in the event of service disruptions.

“Reducing costs and promoting greater stability is a top priority for the overall development agenda for the financial sector, ensuring that regulation does not stifle innovation by leveling the playing field is a very close second,” said Thilasoni Musuku, Senior Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice.

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COVID-19: Friendship renewed as Algeria opens land border with Tunisia

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Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced that it will reopen the land border between the two countries in mid-July.

The border, which starts in the north at the Mediterranean coast, proceeding overland in a broadly southwards directions via a series of overland lines was closed in 2020 during the peak of Covid-19.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune made the announcement at Algiers airport alongside his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied who was preparing to leave the country after attending the festivities marking the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

“We have taken a joint decision to reopen the land borders from July 15.”

Until the pandemic, more than three million Algerians travelled to Tunisia each year, according to local media.

Generally speaking, relations between Algeria and Tunisia have so far been homogenous. Although Algeria postponed the opening of it borders with Tunisia in May.

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The Gambia benefits from World Bank’s $68m grant to revive tourism industry

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The Gambia and the World Bank have sealed a $68m grant deal which will go to support the West African country’s tourism industry, hitherto the biggest contributor to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), before the Coronavirus pandemic hit the global tourism sector, causing a near economic meltdown.

World Bank’s Managing Director of Operations, Axel Van Trotsenburg, who announced the signing of the deal at a ceremony in Gambia’s capital, Banjul, on Tuesday, said the grant is meant to support the diversification and climate resilience of the country’s tourism after the pandemic and economic crisis.

Trotsenburg added that promoting the diversification and climate resilience of tourism will help protect the Atlantic coastline of The Gambia from the effects of climate change.

About 20 per cent of The Gambian economy depends on earnings from its tourism as it is the largest foreign exchange earner for the government but the advent of the pandemic had caused the country’s economic growth to contract by 0.2 percent in 2020, according to the World Bank.

This was as a result of the global restrictions on travelling between 2020 and 2021, which prevented tourists and visitors going to the country, leading to the tourism industry taking a huge hit.

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