Project Year



East Africa



Project Description

This project will use a dataset, a log of all phone calls and transfers made over the Rwandan phone network over the past five years, to better understand how mobile banking is being used, and what the potential impacts on its users will be. By combining this dataset with data from structured phone interviews, the project seeks a deeper understanding of (i) how mobile banking fits into the existing landscape of formal and informal lending, (ii) how existing social networks facilitate the flow of mobile money; and (iii) how different subgroups of the population differentially benefit from access to mobile banking.


Joshua Blumenstock

About the Researcher(s)


Joshua Blumenstock is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, and a Master’s candidate in the Department of Economics. His current research focuses on the economic impact of mobile phones in East Africa.  More generally, his research aims to understand how different information and communications technologies are impacting the lives of those living in developing countries. Prior to enrolling at UC Berkeley, Joshua worked in industry and academia on a variety of projects involving the quantitative analysis of large datasets, and served as a 2003-2004 Watson Fellow in Africa and Asia. Joshua holds Bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Computer Science from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.

See Josh's YouTube video

25 seconds into the video there is an earthquake! The video depicts call traffic in Rwanda on the day of the Lake Kivu earthquake, February 3, 2008. Data obtained from network traffic logs, and is aggregated every minute for every tower. Red (blue) cells correspond to a large (small) number of incoming calls. The earthquake occurs at roughly 09:30, about 25 seconds into the video. Created by Joshua Blumenstock and Yian Shang, at UC Berkeley.


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