10,000 Datapoints: Exploring Senegal’s Financial Access at the Commune Level

> Posted by Joy Kim, Financial Inclusion Analyst, MIX

Figure 1 (click to enlarge)

Today we launched the Senegal Financial Inclusion Workbook 2.0. Since its first iteration in 2013, MIX added a significant number of additional datasets at a more granular level: The total number of financial access points amassed increased from 1,903 to 10,155. Most of the datasets can now be inspected at the commune level, an important change from the initial workbook where the datasets were only displayed at the region level. In addition, we were able to map microfinance correspondents that did not exist back in 2013.

Senegal Makes Significant Progress in a Few Short Years

Since March 2012, when Senegal’s Ministry of Economics and Finance signed the Maya Declaration, it has introduced greater regulatory oversight of the microfinance industry. At the same time, the agency has helped create an enabling environment for the provision of digital financial services. Efforts to improve data and measurement, consumer protection, and implementation of a national financial inclusion strategy are ongoing. As a first step in implementing a national financial inclusion strategy, the Microfinance Branch (DMF) of the Senegalese Ministry in charge of Microfinance and Solidarity together with the National Agency of Statistics and Demography (ANSD) launched a national survey on financial inclusion in January of 2015. The survey is intended to investigate physical access to financial services, users of formal and informal services, financial needs of households, and more.

New Workbook Highlights Key Aspects of Financial Inclusion Progress

-Is Mobile Money Changing the Financial Services Landscape?

Not surprisingly, almost half (47 percent) of all access points are concentrated in Dakar. Even when we exclude mobile money, 41 percent of all financial access points are in Dakar. The distribution is similar with or without mobile money, but the physical number of access points across the country tells us that all 14 regions are benefiting greatly from the addition of over 8,000 mobile money access points (see Figure 1). Using the workbook’s functionality, MIX was able to map the locations of the two biggest mobile money providers (Tigo and Orange). However, it’s important to note that this only paints part of the picture because the dataset does not include two large over-the-counter (OTC) providers, Wari and JoniJoni. Though we were not able to map agent locations for Wari and JoniJoni, we know from conversations with Wari that they have at least 10,000 agents around the country, with approximately 1.5 million transactions a day.

-Urban, Yet Underserved

Figure 2a (click to enlarge)

Figure 2a (click to enlarge)

Figure 2b (click to enlarge)

It is natural to focus on the relatively underserved rural areas that are significantly lacking in access points. Yet, what often goes overlooked is the underserved population within the urban areas. A lack of financial access and coverage in urban areas is also a serious issue, but it is often masked by the abundance of financial access points in a few major cities. Even in Dakar, when drilled down to the commune level, we can see that almost half of the communes fall below the median in terms of supply (financial access points) and demand (population) (see Figure 2). Financial service providers could benefit from focusing on these areas with proven demand. One caveat is that this graph includes commercial banks, MFIs, and PosteFinances but not mobile money or OTC agents and microfinance correspondents because datasets at the commune level were not available for these access types. We hope to update the workbook in the future with granular datasets on mobile money, allowing for a more complete analysis at the commune level.

What’s Next: A Robust Market for Digital Financial Services

Senegal’s financial inclusion landscape continues to evolve. Benefiting from hosting the regional regulator BCEAO (Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest), and the West African headquarters of multiple stakeholders, Senegal has served as an entry point for many digital financial services providers in the region, and this competitive environment can benefit end users. Stay tuned as MIX plans to update the workbook with increasingly granular data in the future.

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