Mobile Money in Kenya : Life cycle assessment of ICT enablement potential

In rural areas in developing markets such as Kenya, the banking infrastructure is limited. This makes it necessary to travel to the nearest town to pay for water and electricity and to refill a mobile phone prepaid account. Making a loan repayment requires a daylong expedition to the nearest bank – 12 km away – if the money sent from relatives abroad has arrived.
Mobile Money in Kenya

With the Mobile Money solution, all this can be achieved without leaving home, making it unnecessary to travel. Three of the main uses are: money transfer, local payment and bank services.

In Kenya, there are 6.5 million subscribers who currently carry out 10 million banking transactions a day, with an average value of $20.


In this case study, the ICT system includes the use of the mobile network and mobile phones to perform the transactions required in the different cases. The application software is assumed to be deployed in a data center including power, cooling, building infrastructure, etc. The same applies to the back office call center.

The traditional Business As Usual (BAU) system means that individuals are forced to travel from rural areas to more central villages and bank offices in the cities in order to make payments and carry out other bank transactions. Typical transactions include remitting money, paying bills, etc.

The primary enabling effect of the Mobile Money service is less travel by bus (or by car, which is done in some cases, but is not considered in this study). Even though banking is usually a coordinated effort from the village (one individual may make the trip to handle banking errands for several other people) this results in extensive travel and security risks.


The figure summarizes all potential effects that were identified.


The results in the figure below is based on a mix of secondary and modeled data.


The following assumptions were used:

Money transfer:

  • 1-2 transactions a month per subscriber
  • 1,000 agents travel to town instead of subscribers
  • 1 person normally handles money for 5 people in BAU

Local payment:

  • 1 payment a month made using the mobile service (for 3-4 bills)
  • Distance to local town/agent for utility/water/phone company: average 2 km each way
  • Bus travel
  • Normally a payment takes half a day

Bank service:

  • 1 bank service every 6 months (loan payment, microfinance)
  • Bank branches: one per 1,000 km2
  • Average 12-km distance each way
  • Bus travel

Taken together, the three cases have the potential to reduce CO2e emissions by up to 22 kg CO2 per subscriber a year while only adding 0.34 kg CO2 per subscriber a year. The absolute reduction would be about 140 tonnes CO2/year if adopted by 6.5 million subscribers in Kenya, while 2.1 tons would be added.

The potential reduction ratio over a 20-year period could be 1:65, depending on whether the infrastructure is included and, if so, to what extent.



  • Consumers and government in Kenya, Safaricom

Enabling effect

  • Travel substitution


  • Banking

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