Telecommunications and information technology services provider Airtel Uganda has today announced a partnership with Samsung, and Asante Financial Services Group (“Asante”) to launch a Pay-on-Demand mobile platform and drive the digital economy across the country. The solution is to enable digital access to smartphone devices for under-served consumers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and is poised to help drive financial inclusion and generate improved economic possibilities for people and businesses.

Built by Mastercard Labs, the platform directly aims at tackling the ongoing socioeconomic difficulties and therefore bringing about convenient financing opportunities to consumers, entrepreneurs and merchants across Uganda, helping to combat the socioeconomic problems they face from restricted access to financing.

The service dubbed Kwata Essimu, will offer Airtel Uganda customers a chance to own selected Samsung 4G smartphones: the Samsung A01, A3 Core and A11 through provision of effective hand-set loans for consumers. These smartphones are now available in Airtel customer care centers/ shops countrywide and they come preloaded with 500MBs of mobile data, and a subsequent 100% data bundle bonus on all daily, weekly and monthly bundles loaded.

To request the smartphone loan, customers will have to dial *284# to opt in and view available offers. They will then have to complete registration before visiting a service centre to receive their device. Customers  have an option of paying the loan in 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months.

This new partnership will help deliver affordable asset financing to consumers and MSMEs through the convenience of their smart handsets at a low upfront cost while distributing payments over time. As the product is used, importantly, the individual or business will establish a digital transaction history, making other financing solutions accessible, such as credit, savings, investments and insurance.

For small business owners and entrepreneurs, this is particularly beneficial as it offers opportunity to obtain financing to drive their business forward as well as build digital capabilities for their everyday business. Pay-on-Demand users will also be able to access digital payments through Mastercard’s virtual card and Mastercard Quick Response (QR Codes) functionality on their Airtel mobile money app enabling them to make digital transactions across face to face and online merchants.

Speaking at the event that was held at the Kampala Serena Hotel, Hon. Judith Nabakooba, Minister of ICT said; “The current pandemic has created a paradigm shift in the way we live as Ugandans. Now more than ever, there is an apparent need for digital presence most especially for businesses. I applaud Airtel Uganda, Mastercard, Samsung and Asante for recognizing this and championing yet another cause to drive smartphone and digital penetration in Uganda.”

Minister of ICT, Hon. Judith Nabakooba and Airtel's Managing Director
Minister of ICT, Hon. Judith Nabakooba and Airtel’s Managing Director at ‘Kwata Essimu’ partnership launch  (Picture: Sky Reports)

“Samsung is proud to be the provider of world class devices with an end-to-end security platform with always-on protection. This partnership will benefit the people across Africa starting with Uganda and will create affordable payment plans to access Samsung devices. There is so much growth opportunity in the region and we believe that this partnership will help accelerate economic growth in the mobile industry.”, remarked Charles Kimani, the Director Products (Samsung).

“Our mobile money services are changing customers’ lives across Uganda. This innovative partnership will help Airtel feature phone customers upgrade to smartphones and pay with Airtel Money on flexible instalment plans. This opens up the digital economy and creates additional opportunities for Uganda’s entrepreneurs.” commented Airtel Uganda’s Managing Director; Manoj Murali.

Chidi Okpala, the CEO, Asante Financial Services Group mentioned that: “Our purpose in Asante Financial Services Group is to advance financial independence and improve the well-being of Africans and African businesses. This bold Africa-wide initiative, starting with Uganda, is aimed at facilitating convenient ownership of smart devices for underserved segments and will catalyze a future for Africa that is built on shared prosperity.

There are 14 markets being considered across Africa, with first in Uganda and later other markets that include Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria, DRC, Gabon, Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Seychelles, Chad, Niger and Congo Brazzaville. This partnership builds on the broader digital transformation partnership between Mastercard and Airtel Africa across sub-Saharan Africa. The. This partnership also builds on the global partnership with Samsung to provide Pay-on-Demand mobile devices.