Project Year



Southern Africa


South Africa

Project Description

The proposed research aims to improve our understanding of the impact of mobile money by situating it within critical bodies of development theory that, as of now, are largely disconnected from studies of mobile money. The research will consider mobile money as an emerging infrastructure with utilization by diverse entities whose interests and goals may not always coincide with those of the poor. Following a critical analysis of how mobile money is perceived and functions, the project will seek to develop productive recommendations for how the development goals projected onto mobile money might be fruitfully achieved. The research will take place while based in Cape Town and will focus on the South African experience.


Kevin Donovan

About the Researcher(s)

Kevin P. Donovan is currently a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Cape Town. His research focuses on the impact of new technologies—including mobile phones and biometrics—on poverty alleviation and privacy. His IMTFI project draws on science and technology studies to examine the techniques through which South Africa's social protection scheme is implemented. Previously he worked at the World Bank's infoDev division, including researching the impact of mobile money. He graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service with a degree in Science, Technology & International Affairs. More information can be found at

Synopsis of Research Results

Link to his blog post: SIM Registration and Financial Inclusion in the "Silicon Savannah"


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766