In July 2012, eight Afghan university students were presented with awards in Kabul as winners of a mobile money contest open to students around Afghanistan. Applicants were asked to think of innovative ways to expand the use of mobile money.
Keeping in mind what would be best for Afghan citizens, businesses, and social services, more than 5,000 applicants proposed several ideas for mobile money applications on a mobile phone. The ideas ranged from payment of university tuition, traffic, and passport fees to grocery shopping and purchasing construction materials, handicrafts, and other products.
One winner from Nangarhar Province, Mr. Azizullah, suggested using mobile money in construction and engineering. He noted the challenges that businesses face when buying equipment and materials in remote areas. Using mobile money would save countless hours traveling to banks in distant districts and would reduce the risks of carrying cash.
A winner in the government category, Rahima Rahmani, recommended using mobile money to issue and pay taxes. She thinks it would greatly reduce corruption, as taxpayers would not be misled and would be able to trust that the taxes they pay are fair and accurate.
Through USAID funding, Chemonics’ Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan project, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education, and the Association of Mobile Money Operators of Afghanistan — an association of four major mobile networks — held the contest from April 18 through June 17, 2012. It included 33 universities across 18 provinces targeting students who are at the forefront of business challenges faced in Afghanistan.
As a reward for their exceptionally original work, the contest winners received a cash prize each, while their universities received five desktop computers with Internet connections for their university libraries.
As a further prize, each of the four major mobile network operators that offer mobile money services — Afghan Wireless Communication Company, Etisalat Afghanistan, Mobile Telephone Networks, and Telecom Development Company Afghanistan, Ltd. (Roshan) — will introduce two new mobile money applications chosen from among the contest winners’ ideas.
Click here to read USAID’s news release about this great success.