Poll jitters slow down mobile money use in Kenya in August
The use of mobile money in Kenya declined by the biggest margin in August, pointing to jitters related to East African nation polls first held on Aug. 8.
Kenyans transacted on mobile phone 2.8 billion U.S. dollars during the month, down from 3 billion dollars in July, Central Bank of Kenya data showed Wednesday.
It was the biggest fall since the start of the year, with mobile money transactions recording rise and decline in use in separate months during the period.
According to the apex bank's data, the highest transaction Kenya recorded in the first eight months of the year was 3.2 billion dollars in March. That equally was the highest the country has ever transacted in the history of the technology.
And the August reading is the lowest in 2017 so far, as the rest of the transactions in the other months standing at between 2.9 billion dollars and 3.1 billion dollars.
Kenya in August held one of the most competitive elections which saw President Uhuru Kenyatta re-elected but his win was cancelled by the Supreme Court on Sept. 1 due to irregularities and illegalities.
The East African nation is set to hold repeat polls on Oct. 26, from which the opposition has announced a withdrawal, plunging the country into a crisis.
Before the August polls, there was fear of violence making some people travel to their rural homes while others stockpiled food and other basic items, including cash.
This, therefore, saw Kenyans cut mobile money transactions that include remittances to their kin as uncertainty loomed, what analysts attribute to the drop in usage.
"It is not possible to send money to friends or even family if you are unsure that you would make more the next day. This is the situation Kenyans faced during the August polls. The lengthy electioneering period I believe would also hit September and October transactions," said Ernest Manuyo, a business management lecturer in Nairobi.