In the case of mobile connectivity, a rising tide does not lift all boats. As more people use and benefit from mobile services, the divide between adopters and those left out will grow exponentially. This creates a greater economic divide and leaves the poor further and further behind. In Kenya, M-PESA may, in fact, be driving a new wealth divide. While it’s helping many Kenyans access savings in a more efficient and safer way, M-PESA is also leaving a substantial portion of the nation’s poor in even more dire straits.
Though the practical benefits for users are unarguable, mobile money can be relatively expensive on a per-transaction basis, with costs rising for off-network activity such as transferring funds to someone on another provider or moving funds to a bank account.
For examples from Ghana see Airtel and MTN’s charge breakdowns – GhC 0.50 to GhC 1 is standard for a transaction fee – and compare to Ghana Statistical Service figures on household and national income (both pdfs, and you’ll have to root around a bit in the first). Bear in mind though that the very popularity of these services suggests that those who can afford to adopt them see the cost offset by greater business efficiency, security etc..