Tigo Tanzania, a mobile phone operator part of Millicom Cellular International, has announced it had gained 1m mobile money service users over the past year, a growth of 41.6%.

Tigo has over 6.2m mobile phone subscribers on a total of 27m in Tanzania, in a nation of about 45m people. Tigo Pesa, the company’s mobile money transfer service launched in April 2014, now has 3.4m users.

Diego Gutierrez, the company’s general manager, said: "Tigo Pesa is a key growth area which already accounts for a significant share of Tigo’s total revenue."

Such service allows customers to pay for goods, bills, make deposits and withdraw cash from authorised agents using their phones.

The telco said that it wanted to expand further in this fast-growing East African market, where many people do not have bank accounts.

Earlier this week, Tigo announced a deal with two other mobile phone operators in Tanzania, Bharti Airtel and Zantel, to allow customers of the three firms to conduct mobile money transfers across their networks.

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According to Gutierrez, there is still plenty of growth in the country’s competitive telecom sector, helped by favourable demographics which boast a young population.

In February, Tigo also launched a mobile money transfer service between Tanzania and Rwanda.

In the region, Vodafone’s Kenyan unit Safaricom was the first company to offer mobile money transfers in 2007.

Recently, researchers have predicted that the use of mobile phones as internet devices will increase 20-fold in the next five years, twice more than in the rest of the world.

Fredrik Jejdling, head of sub-Saharan Africa at telco company Ericsson, commented: "Sub-Saharan Africa is currently undergoing a mobile digital revolution with consumers, networks and even media companies waking up the possibilities of 3G and 4G technology.

"We have seen the trend emerging over a few years but in the past 12 months the digital traffic has increased over 100%."

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