Most Kenyans consider themselves prosperous even with less than average income

Kenyans, Nigerians and South Africans have an overwhelmingly positive view on how their household situation would change over the next year. They consider themselves to be prosperous, even though their incomes are less than what is seen to be the average.

This is according to PayU’s global survey on financial prosperity, the world’s first financial prosperity barometer. The survery investigated the concept of prosperity across multiple markets and global regions, focusing on the relationship between financial services and prosperity in high-growth markets. 

The report, which target Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa gathered insights from these high-growth African markets and established the limitations of financial inclusion, the value of financial services, and the key characteristics that define prosperity. Kenya (88%), Nigeria (94%) and South Africa (70%), it was discovered, had an overwhelmingly positive view on how their household situation would change over the next year.

The research by PayU, the fintech and e-payments division of Prosus, found that Kenyans considered education (44%) and health (45%) as more important indicators of prosperity than being wealthy (38). They also included a loving family (37%) and a well-paying job (35%) in their top five characteristics of a prosperous person. In Nigeria, wealth (48%) was at the top of the list with a well-paying job (31%) at the bottom, while in South Africa, the top drivers of prosperity were health (45%), education (44%) and a well-paying job (41%).

When asked what the word ‘prosperity’ meant to them, South Africans opted for savings, not having to worry about money, and being happy in their lives as their top three. Nigeria opted for being able to afford anything they wanted, being able to help the less fortunate, and being happy with their lives. In Kenya, the top three were savings, good health and being able to afford whatever you want. The striking insight is that in countries considered poorer by international standards, the values of health and happiness are emphasized over wealth and money.

PayU’s Financial Prosperity Barometer: Perceptions of prosperity in high-growth markets also identified interesting trends around how these countries perceived financial services. In Nigeria, a significant percentage believe that financial services help people plan for their future prosperity (85%) and that the more people have access to financial services, the more prosperous the country would be (72%). That said, only 52% agreed that people could not be prosperous if they didn’t have access to financial services. For the Kenyans, 92% believed that financial services helped people plan for their future prosperity and 77% agreed that the more access to financial services, the better. South Africans dipped the scale considerably with only 63% believing that access to financial services would make the country more prosperous. But all three countries identified the need for their governments to do more to improve access to financial services – the average of 80% significantly higher than most other countries.

The study identified that Africa showed the highest preference for using mobile money providers for managing their money, a fact borne out by the impressive growth of money mobile services in the sub-Saharan Africa region. These countries came in at a much lower rate of use for traditional banking (36%) particularly for saving and growing their money and managing their finances. The adoption of mobile money services has transformed access to financial services and perceptions of prosperity in the region.

The results point to an Africa that’s positive about the impact of financial services on the prosperity of their country and their lives.

“The results point to an Africa that’s positive about the impact of financial services on the prosperity of their country and their lives. The emotional benefits of financial services were easier to identify than the practical ones, with many giving security and peace of mind the highest value,” said Corrie Bakker, head of strategy & business development, PayU Africa.

The report, Mr Bakker said, also highlights how differently prosperity is defined across the different regions, and yet how similar people’s goals remain when it comes to family, health and wellbeing adding that prosperity is driven by more than money, it’s defined by access to services, the health of the people who matter, and their access to stable jobs. 

Technology, PayU Africa’s head of strategy said, lies at the heart of building a truly prosperous continent and is already changing the way Africa banks, manages finances and engages with money.

PayU is a leading online payment service provider in 18 high-growth markets, dedicated to creating a fast, simple and efficient payment process for merchants and buyers. Focused on empowering people through financial services and creating a world without financial borders where everyone can prosper, it is one of the biggest investors in the fintech space, with investments totaling $700 million to date.  

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