The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Maryam Lawal

Nationality: Nigerian

Year of entry: 2013


Maryam is a recent graduate with extensive knowledge in Information Systems and Cloud Computing, experience in IT and Software Development, Consultancy and an interest in Philanthropy. She obtained her undergraduate degree in BSc. (Hons) Business Information Systems from the University of Hertfordshire in 2011 and obtained a postgraduate degree in MSc. Management, Information Systems & Innovation (MISI) from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 2012. She also holds a certificate of proficiency in German Language (Level 1) and is a native speaker of the Hausa Language.

Maryam’s most recent experience in the IT industry include business systems analysis, process re-engineering, requirements analysis & feasibility study, software & web development, database administration, knowledge management systems, project management and experience with computing packages/languages/applications like Rational Rose, Python, XML, HTML, Dreamweaver, UML, SQL, Microsoft (Access & Visio), SAP’s ERP, Oracle’s Linux & Primavera and so on.

Maryam has also worked with AD Rufa’i Foundation for years on various development projects such as One Laptop per Child, Medical Care and Sustenance packages; medicines, vaccines, mosquito nets, beddings and food for people suffering from HIV/AIDs, Malaria and Tuberculosis as well as preventive awareness programs, capacity building programs for farmers, tailors and cyclists. She was also involved in planning a 500 million fund raising dinner and preparing funding proposals for USAID and NNPC, which were accepted.

Maryam is currently a fulltime Ph.D. student at University College London (UCL) in the DPU and is interested in the social and informal aspects of how Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) can transform rural lives.

LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/pub/maryam-lawal/25/7b6/119/

Research information

Title: The Impact(s) Mobile Money for the Unbanked as a Means of Transforming Rural Livelihoods: The Case of Katagum Community of Northern Nigeria

Keywords: Nigeria, ICT4D, Mobile Telephony, Mobile Money, Informality, Financial Inclusion, Rural Human Development, Capability

Abstract: Guided by Amartya Sen's Capability Approach (CA), the research will assess how access and use of Mobile Money service by rural dwellers can improve their living circumstances and create opportunities to help them lead a life they have reason to value. The study of the impact of m-money in Least Developing Countries roots from wider development studies and shall focus on the social complexities associated with m-money, particularly the transformational potential of the technology because the outcome of its use overlaps with broader level development initiatives such as poverty alleviation and financial inclusion.

The rapid diffusion of various forms of technologies into LDC’s predicated on the assumption that ICTs can contribute to socio-economic growth (Avgerou, 2010), employment and social inclusion (Chabossou et al., 2009). This also prompted network providers and financial institutions to capitalise on mobile phones and deliver value-added services beyond just phone calls and SMS to rural areas (Singh, 2009). This concept of using mobile phones for payment or remittance purposes is believed to have so far made radical changes to way mobile phones are used (Demirgüç-Kunt & Klapper, 2012) because of the opportunity offered to the financially constrained or ‘unbanked’ populations in Least Developing Countries (LDC) (Kapoor et al., 2007). With the advent of m-money, many people living in abject poverty and cash economies (Donner & Tellez, 2008) now use their mobile phones to access financial services (Kapoor et al., 2007). Ngugi, et al. (2010) believes that the main driver of mobile phone adoption in LDCs is the role it plays as a platform for performing monetary transactions due to the lack of access to formal financial services in most populations. It is not surprising as only 24% of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa (Klapper & Hoff, 2012) actually have bank accounts whereas around 2 billion people had mobile phones as at 2011 (Tobbin, 2011).

Some scholars conclude that mobile phones do have the potential to contribute to development because of the identifiable positive impacts evidenced from adoption and use however the rationality behind it is purely economic therefore it bypasses other important aspects of development. While the ICT4D researches have had a long heritage and remarkable theoretical capabilities, they remain weak in providing strong arguments relating to IT enabled socio-economic development (Avgerou, 2010). It is no surprise m-money research is said to heavily rely on practitioner survey rather than academic research, especially for impact studies (Donovan, 2012). Donner & Tellez (2008) points out there has been limited research on adoption and impact of m-money on socio-economic development as well as insufficient literature on cultural, social and economic aspects of its use. It is this vacuum in knowledge that the research intends to cover. It is very important to study how ICT4D initiatives such as m-money impact rural areas to contribute to human development. This is because rural adopters have no access to traditional banks and other financial services but the important role they play in the provision of essential goods and services that contribute immensely to national growth cannot be overlooked.

Primary Supervisors: Michael Walls

Secondary Supervisor: Colin Marx 

Publications and other work
  • The current student representative for 1st Year MPhil/Ph.D. students in DPU
  • Currently in the process of setting up her own business that runs IT (mainly Web, Software & Database development) and ICT4D consultancy in Nigeria.