MOBILE PHONES AND LIVELIHOODS: The Synergy of Mobile Banking Services and Livelihoods. A Case Study of Using M-PESA in the Urban and Peri-Urban Areas Of Kisumu, Kenya
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- Institutt for geografi 
The growth of mobile phones in Africa is increasing at a rate of 40% per year and Internet connectivity is expanding with the installation of the latest fibre optic cables (Radelet, 2010). Recent studies show how a variety of mobile money transfer system innovations, such as M-Pesa in Kenya, have evolved in the Global South, implementing platforms for mobile phone based financial services to poor people, mostly in the rural areas. In 2007 Safaricom (Vodafone Group), the leading mobile operator in Kenya, launched M-Pesa; an agent assisted mobile money transfer system that allows individuals to send, receive, save and bank money. The M stands for mobile and P for pesa, a Swahili word for money (Jack and Suri, 2010). This study intended to explore how mobile phones and M-Pesa have impacted lives and livelihoods of users and agents in Kenya`s, Kisumu City and the surrounding peri-urban areas of Ahero, Luanda and Yala. It was committed to exploring their perceptions, experiences, practices and aspects of power related to the ownership and use of the technologies. It considered a combination of the two ICT innovations as a livelihood asset. The underlying assumption was that the existence of mobile phones and M-Pesa in Kenya is a result of the rising global technological expansions. Globalization, mobility and Information Technology for Development (ICT4D) concepts, Actor Network Theory (ANT) perspectives and Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA) framework were employed to give a comprehension in the interrelations existing between global change, human and non-human entities, and how they can affect everyday lives of individuals, internationally and locally. Semi-structured interviews, group discussions and personal observation were the primary sources of data. Secondary sources of data included prior studies and other related literature. The study concludes that mobile phones and M-Pesa have impacted people`s lives in Kisumu City and the peri-urban areas. There were notable social transformations and a difference in the diffusion, the use, the understanding and perceptions of M-Pesa between the urban and the peri-urban areas. This applies to both the users and the agents. Mobile phone ownership has given people a notion of empowerment and social inclusion. As a standalone business, being an M-Pesa agent seemed not to be profitable unless it was integrated with other existing business. M-Pesa was not innovated to improve people`s livelihoods or income but to enhance money transfer. Nevertheless, many people got involved with it in different ways and this has directly and indirectly improved their livelihoods.