MP for Hornsey and Wood Green
Here’s my latest blog on the huffington post website. I am currently in Mozambique with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
There is money in the air in Mozambique. The deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and I have just watched Nilza and Herculano transfer 100 meticais (about two pounds) via mobile phone. They may both be standing in front of us for this demonstration, but in a country where less than 12% of adults have a bank account, the benefits of these mobile money systems can be large.
The Department for International Development (DFID) supported the launch of M-Pesa mobile money transfer when it was first launched in Kenya in 2007, and we went to check it out ahead of its launch in Mozambique. Mobile money means more small, safe, cashless transactions can happen – urban workers can send money back to rural homes; small shops and stalls can trade more and grow their business.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and international development minister Lynne Featherstone in Mozambique. Picture: Crown Copyright
It is these small and medium-sized businesses that are critical for inclusive growth and job creation in Mozambique. And in the north of the country, in the Beira corridor, DFID is supporting such companies in the agricultural sector, helping them grow and link into supply chains, providing access to funding that might not otherwise have been available through our partner AgDevCo. We met several of the businesses today, and had the privilege of talking to their managers. Their enthusiasm, their commitment, was palpable (and their products weren’t half bad either, I can recommend the Chibuku, a non-alcoholic soya banana and maize drink).
What links these two things, mobile money and support to small agricultural business, is inclusion, in this case financial. 80% of Mozambicans are excluded from the financial sector (be it bank account or loan).
And inclusion matters here. You may have seen Mozambique feature in the news, as large natural resource finds have grabbed headlines. It’s still a very poor country, but these finds have the potential to transform all that within a generation. Yet poised as it is for massive growth, the challenge Mozambique faces is making sure all are included in that growth, that all can benefit. And Nick and I are proud to have seen today the UK already working with our Mozambican partners to tackle this.