The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Maryam Lawal

Maryam Lawal


Name: Miss Maryam Lawal

Nationality: Nigerian

Title: A Capabilitarian Account of the Potential of Mobile-Money for Rural Poverty Reduction in Northern Nigeria

Keywords: mobile-money, rural poverty, human capability, ICT4D, Nigeria


Profile (introduction, research summary and professional experience):

I am an analytically minded PhD. candidate studying the link between ICTs and socioeconomic development with primary concentration on rural poverty reduction through mobile-money. I have developed a range of technical and analytical techniques required to understand commercial and regulatory frameworks within which mobile services are deployed to accelerate financial inclusion in LDCs. I possess research and empirical skill-sets related to international development, poverty alleviation as well as the application of novel technology, innovation and big data to facilitate the implementation of ICT4D interventions in LDCs, primarily encapsulated within telecommunications, finance, health, education and economic development. Technical capabilities; I am skilled in object-oriented systems design, data modelling, cloud computing, database management and comfortable using a range of software tools/packages to aid the development of robust end products in an agile manner to solve complex problems.


My interest in the interplay between ICTs, poverty alleviation and socioeconomic development - particularly in education, financial inclusion and health - stems from a deep-rooted desire to contribute to unlocking Africa’s latent demographic and economic dividend in an effort to enhance human capabilities of the world’s most vulnerable populations and advance human development. As such I was driven to focus my doctoral thesis on producing “A Capabilitarian Account of the Potential of Mobile-Money for Rural Poverty Reduction in Northern Nigeria” My thesis employs the Capability Approach as a conceptual and analytical theory to offer a nuanced lens to assess the disruptive and transformative potential of m-money in improving the living circumstances of rural dwellers of the impoverished Northern region of Nigeria. Research insights furthers our understandings on the human capabilities (and functionings) that are enabled or constrained by m-money in order to excavate the necessary arrangements that underpin approaches to foster financial inclusion in rural contexts. My research adopts a qualitative approach to obtain primary data (through semi-structured and life history interviews) covering various respondent groups across 7 seven villages in Bauchi State. Data analysis is grounded in a thematic network approach and analytical themes were derived from the theoretical constructs of the Capability Approach.


My professional expertise span areas of information technology, international development, health and education within the private and public sectors. I manage a portfolio of a broad range of programmes including enterprise systems design and analysis, master planning development interventions, public policy and strategy development. My expertise has contributed to the success of a number of high-profile programmes where I worked closely with two of Nigeria’s most renown Cabinet Ministers and a State Governor. These programmes have delivered millions of dollars of primary healthcare services and poverty alleviation schemes to rural communities that support the aspirations of delivering the SDGs in Nigeria. In addition, I recently spearheaded research that generated a landmark industry report based on 30 countries. This was launched at the renowned Mobile World Congress (Barcelona). In addition, I have made similar presentations at the WAS #7 (Dubai) conference meetings to over 1,000 delegate attendees from across the mobile industry. Prior to this, I jointly delivered a ground-breaking programme under the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN), which enrolled 11 promising innovations that were nurtured over a rigorous 12-month development programme in order for these to achieve market readiness and scale. Similarly, I led the operationalisation of an initiative that supported the emergence of young entrepreneurs and dynamic public-sector leaders to mobilise human capital in Nigeria. Finally, I also oversaw the rolling out of capacity building projects in vulnerable communities that improved the lives of some 800 rural dwellers in partnership with local civil society organisations of 6 Northern States and also participated in various youth empowerment projects to promote Girl Child education among disadvantaged groups.


In my spare time I enjoy reading inspirational books, making pastries and Parasailing.


Primary supervisor: Dr Michael Walls

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Colin Marx


Web profiles:



  • Board membership: AD Rufa’i Foundation, Moweesh Industries Trust
  • Advisory council: Girl Child Concerns (GCC)
  • PhD. student academic representative (StARs) | UCL
  • UN YA Delegate | United Nations
  • Youth Spark Coding Certificate | Microsoft
  • International Development Seminar | World Bank/IMF
  • Volunteer certificate | US Gateway National Park
  • Certificate of Proficiency in German Language | LSE