At the usually busy Nakawa market, it is not business as usual. The often busy market bursting with crowds of shoppers and loud chatters as vendors beacon customers, looks desolate.
“Business is generally slow. There are few clients but we are still managing because food is a necessity and we also need to survive” says Lucy Ninsiima, a vegetable stall operator in the market.
Ninsiima has not left the market since the lockdown started early last week, following President Museveni’s directive for workers, such as market vendors to stay in or near the markets during this time to prevent the transmissions of the deadly novel Corona virus.
Back home, Ninsiima, has a family to support, not to mention her parents back in the village that she has to send up keep money regularly.
However, this is the least of her worries.
“I have been sending my people money for upkeep using MTN mobile money. I am so happy that it is free. In such hard times, any extra shilling saved is very important and means a lot,” says Ninsiima, a smile playing about her weary face.
Ninsiima says that the free person to person mobile money transactions have come in handy for her business since people are not moving.
“All I do is send mobile money using my MTN phone to my suppliers and the produce is delivered to my stall,” says Ninsiima, the single mother of four.
Additionally, some of her customers are finding it convenient to send her money for their groceries that she sends to their homes by boda boda motorcycles.
“I think you can see how these free mobile money transactions have helped us during these hard times,” Ninsiima says as she packs an assortment of vegetables to be delivered to yet another one of her other clients who sent mobile money.
Like Ninsiima, all MTN Mobile Money customers have been sending any amount of Mobile Money every day to other MTN Mobile Money customers free of charge since the offer was made, two weeks ago.
The offer was designed to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus by avoiding physical exchange of currency notes.
Apart from avoiding the physical exchange of currency notes, this offer is helping MTN customers to take care of their families, friends and loved ones through sending them Mobile Money at no cost during these times of restricted movement amid the covid19 pandemic.
Edward Masaba, a public servant has nothing but praises for this move to zero rate the sending of Mobile Money.
“As soon as I got my salary, I was able to send money to all my dependents upcountry for free. I saved a lot of money since I had many people to send money to. Now I know my people have something to eat,” Masaba says.
Solome Nakimbugwe, a shop keeper in Kyaliwajjala, a Kampala suburb admits that it is much safer to receive payments on mobile money rather than take physical cash from people since that could transmit the dreaded novel corona virus.
“MTN did well to consider our safety,” Nakimbugwe says. “The fact that people can pay for their goods using MTN Mobile Money for free means that they are safeguarding us from exposure to the virus and it shows that they care for people like us who are always handling cash that has gone through so many hands.”
As reiterated by Nakimbugwe, the offer is meant to reduce the risk of transmission of the lethal corona virus that has paralyzed day to day life across the world
While communicating the offer to the public, MTN CEO, Mr. Wim Vanhelleputte described this season as an extraordinary time when MTN needed to stand up and be counted on to do the right thing.
To facilitate the flow of information, MTN Uganda has zero rated Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO) websites so the public can access information about the virus at no charge. They include www.who.int, www.health.go.ug and www.covid.gou.go.ug
While the country is contending with this imminent catastrophe, MTN has come out as a dependable partner and is committed to continue working with government, to reduce the impact and disruption that the covid19 pandemic is having on the lives of Ugandans.