NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 22 – Former Safaricom Chief Executive Michael Joseph has landed a World Bank Group posting as a fellow under the group’s new global fellowship program.
The fellowship program seeks to tap new expertise into its development work and strengthen its knowledge network to enable it attract global technical and policy experts for three months to a year to provide new perspectives on policy, performance and implementation.
Mr Joseph will advise the bank and governments on spreading the use of mobile phone banking, drawing on his knowledge and experience at the helm of Kenya’s largest telecommunications service provider.
“I am delighted to work with the leading development institution and be part of the global effort to fight poverty. This shows that Kenya is being identified as an innovator in easing financial access,” Mr Joseph said.
His appointment was made on the basis of the role he played in developing Safaricom’s M-PESA money transfer service that has attracted global interest.
M-PESA has become a key asset for people without access to banks.
As a World Bank Fellow, Mr Joseph will provide strategic advice to the World Bank and governments beyond Africa on policy and regulatory issues to promote development of mobile banking and mobile payments.
World Bank Country Director Johannes Zutt said sharing knowledge on telecommunications innovations, including mobile money, could make an important contribution to Africa’s economic reform and development.
“Michael Joseph’s participation in the World Bank Fellows program will leverage the bank’s interventions in technology and financial services in new frontiers in line with our new Africa Strategy,” Mr Zutt said.
The World Bank says the global sharing of knowledge and innovation will boost growth opportunities for African countries, contributing to better equity and poverty reduction.
Mobile phones are now the leading means of voice communications and Internet access, connecting communities and expanding opportunities for economic development.
In 2010, the world reached 5.3 billion mobile subscriptions, with more than three billion of them in developing countries. These include 450 million in Africa, representing a penetration of 43 percent.
The World Bank’s December 2010 Kenya Economic Update estimated that more than 21 million Kenyans have access to phones, with 15 million using mobile money services.
In December last year, mobile money services in Kenya reached a new record of almost US$1 billion in transactions.
Mr Zutt said key economic sectors the Bank will be seeking engagement on include education, health, public administration, infrastructure, financial and private sector development, agriculture, environmental and natural resource management.
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