Digital finance for energy access in Uganda: Putting mobile money big data analytics to work

This working paper leverages anonymized data on mobile money transactions from October 2016 to December 2018 to gain customer and market-level insights on digital energy financing in Uganda.

The data we collected included customer gender, transaction dates, transaction types (for example PayGo payments, cash-in, cash-out, savings), mobile money activation dates, location (by region, district and cell tower area), and which energy service provider (if any) a customer is using. With this information, this study evaluates the geographic penetration and growth patterns of PayGo solar market by district, province, provider and number of new customers. By overlaying aggregated mobile money penetration17 and transaction data onto electricity-access maps we can identify geographic areas with potential PayGo customers.

We further evaluate the ability of customers to pay for clean energy by examining their PayGo solar transactions over time. Finally, we test whether digital energy financing contributes to wider financial inclusion and apply this to measuring the effects of the (temporary) mobile money tax on the digital energy finance markets.

This working paper is part of a wider development project that established a data partnership with the Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA) and supported its members with technical and analytical know-how in using customer data for market scoping and customer-centric product development. In collaboration with Dalberg Data Insights (DDI), Schatz Energy Research Center and USEA, the project aims to fill some critical gaps in information about the solar market in Uganda, enabling businesses and policymakers to improve energy access and households to make more informed choices of solar products.

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