EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Karim Khoja, CEO of Afghanistan operator Roshan, argues mobile money is filling a void in a country where the only alternative is hard cash, speaking with Mobile World Live.
The new government in Kabul plans to pay the country’s army and police using M-Paisa, the operator’s mobile money service, using it as an anti-corruption tool, said Khoja.
Roshan started running a trial with the police force some time ago, initially blundering by sending 250 police officers a text about their wages. Not one of them could read so text was swapped for voice messaging.
“The next month we did voice calls, 250 policemen came and kissed me on both cheeks and I wondered why and they said ‘thanks for giving us a pay rise’. In five years they had never got their full salary because money was being eroded down the food chain.”
Recipients paid via M-Paisa can cash out at a local agent or forward the funds to their home village rather than having to take the cash there themselves, so cutting absenteeism. Paying police officers in full tends to reduce corruption too.
Currently, the police are paid in cash by an agent who, quite literally, carries around “a bag of cash”, said Khoja. The officers might then have to travel seven hours to find their nearest bank. In Afghanistan, there are only 50-90 bank branches in the leading cities. “We have 2,500 agents across the country. You can see the difference that makes,” added Khoja.
Watch the full video here.