The role of digital financial services in reaching unserved populations

Picture: UOMA

This new report focuses on innovative models that can leverage digital financial services (DFS) to accelerate energy access. It addresses the current state of DFS for off-grid energy in Uganda, potential innovative partnership models, and challenges and opportunities for the space.


The report highlights as challenges and opportunities that limited consumer education and other market challenges will continue to affect DFS for energy access:

1. Limited knowledge and trust in DFS and solar services

  • Though knowledge of PAYG is rising, rural populations in Uganda have limited knowledge of
    other DFS capabilities and use cases; digital payment solutions may not be readily embraced
  • Energy may be important to customers who have the ability to pay. However, other priorities
    like food and school fees often take precedence.

2. Seasonality of farmers’ income

  • A majority of the rural population are farmers and with seasonal incomes
  • DFS payment models (e.g. lease-to-own models) for solar are riskier since a farmer may lack
    cashflow at certain points in the year

3. Regulation of DFS creates potential limitations in its use to increase solar access

  • Taxation of mobile money, which increase costs, creates a disincentive for use by last mile
  • Difficulty in the onboarding of informal and semi formal merchants and agents who may not
    meet the KYC requirements makes it more difficult to expand agent networks

4. Technical integration challenges

  • Potential challenges arise from connecting SHS mobile payment APIs with MNOs, or from
    integrating digitally with banks to process payments

Download the full document here.