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Background

The uptake of mobile money (MM) especially in developing countries has been tremendous. The impact of the uptake has equally been felt including increasing financial inclusion and changing people’s lives. There is need to explore ways to further increase the scale and sophistication of MM. evaluating adoption; impact and design of various MM applications need a solid research foundation. Kenya’s success of M-Pesa and the general MM sub-sector has continued to set the pace for the rest of the world. The School of Computing and Informatics (SCI) wishes to launch an interdisciplinary MM research team with a clear aim of enhancing MM adoption and impact in Africa. This is part of execution of the research strategy of the Multi-disciplinary Centre of Excellence in Computing for Societal Development (MCCSD), a centre of excellence associated with the School of Computing and Informatics in the University of Nairobi that carries out multidisciplinary research in collaboration with internal and external partners.

Objectives

The objectives of AMMREC are:

  1. To conduct research on relevant areas of MM
  2. To support development and piloting of MM applications
  3. To develop capacity in MM research
  4. To share the MM knowledge generated with researchers and practitioners

How we do it

To achieve the objectives, AMMREC will initially work with interested partners who wish to contribute as sponsors, volunteers and experts to advance MM in Africa and beyond. At the University of Nairobi AMMREC will involve undergraduate, masters, PhD students and experienced researchers interested in MM research and will provide an environment for mentorship to ensure that cutting-edge research is done. The students are expected to apply appropriate methodologies and generate peer reviewed research papers as well as valuable MM based products. Academics interested in MM research are paired up with students within to conduct research in specific MM areas. AMMREC will continuously look for grant to support specific research projects across different environments. Based on nature of grants, AMMREC will establish the most appropriate teams of researchers and students to conduct the studies.

Outputs

Below are some of the expected outputs from AMMREC initiative.

  • Publications on MM
  • This will be achieved through periodical publication on MM covering various aspects such as agent networks, regulation, adoption, impact, deployments, design, BoP, MM models among others. Through research done at the University and beyond, AMMREC aims to publish papers in peer reviewed journals. Besides developing the MM research space, AMMREC aims to contribute in policy development of MM and financial inclusion in developing countries through policy briefs and white papers.

  • Conference on MM research
  • Conferences are ideal for disseminating content generated, research conducted and applications developed. Working with other partners, AMMREC aims to establish an international conference on MM with an academic emphasis. Students from Universities across the world will have an opportunity to present their research work on the various aspects of MM and will get a chance to qualify for publishing their work.

Guiding principles

MM research is not only a technological innovation; it’s a transformative development that has changed people’s lives. The desire to further innovate and extend this impact cannot be over stated. Below are the guiding principles for AMMREC.

  • Multidisciplinary
  • As an ICT for Development (ICT4D) area, MM research cannot be done purely by computing or ICT experts. To comprehensively study adoption or impact, a technologist must work with an anthropologist, economist and sociologist. To design appropriate technology for Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP), a natural language expert needs to work with a design thinker. AMMREC will consistently invite experts from other disciplines within the Universities and outside; within the country and beyond to share ideas and develop the MM sub-sector to the next level.

  • Summer school on MM
  • Summer schools are known to be good platforms for intensive learning, where best practices are shared and industry leaders mentor others. AMMREC will establish a summer school that will attract participants interested in MM research, from across the globe to share a learning platform. The summer school will be ideal for individuals from research institutions, central banks, micro-finance institutions, mobile operators, commercial banks among others. The training will range between one and two weeks and will be designed in collaboration with other stakeholders

  • Collaborative
  • It’s no longer possible to work alone. The success and growth of MM requires a high level of collaboration. AMMREC will work with the private sector, government and development partners. Within the University, AMMREC will collaborate with other departments to achieve synergy to grow the sub-sector. The private sector provides the practical experiences while the academia provides the research skills. The government provides a facilitating environment while the development partners provide resources to support research.

  • Innovative
  • Innovation happens either by accident or in a planned manner. AMMREC will create an atmosphere where both can occur. Housed at the School of computing and Informatics, of the University of Nairobi, innovation will be at the core of AMMREC work. By guiding many of the university students at undergraduate, masters and Phd level interested in MM research, AMMREC will nurture various projects in a controlled and programmed manner. Besides, AMMREC will closely monitor the student developments with the aim of commercializing the viable ones. Being at the university environment, AMMREC will nature radical ideas for purposes of lesson learning to inform the industry at large.

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