The first VAS Africa event closed yesterday in Johannesburg after two days of rich debate, best practice sharing and networking between over 250 VAS specialists: mobile operators, solutions vendors, content owners and aggregators, applications developers, consultants and more.
All participants agreed that such an event was long needed in Africa: as the market is developing, it is crucial that all stakeholders get together and discuss how to make it work for everyone, and in particular for the end-user.
The service that dominated the debates was mobile money. Mayank Sharma of Comviva compared Africa to a Silicon Valley in terms of its leadership in mobile financial services. Content was a major talkingpoint on the second day: speakers discussed partnerships between operators, content providers and applications developers, as well as the optimum pricing and revenue sharing models. The need for relevant local content was highlighted by most speakers, and of course social networking was mentioned as a great opportunity.
However speakers pointed out that the success of value-added services will not be down only to the attractiveness of the services: affordability and simplicity of use will be crucial to seize the potential of value-added services in Africa.
The event was attended by VAS specialists from the major players in Africa: pan-african operator groups (Airtel, MTN, Orange, Vodacom, Econet Wireless, Etisalat), local operators (Cell C, TNM, Mcell, 8ta and more), content providers (BBC, SABC, Multimesh), VAS solutions suppliers (Comviva, Ericsson, Huawei, GandD, SSD-Tech, DSG, Buongiorno), and many more companies or individuals with an interest in sharing ideas and networking with their peers.
This was the first event dedicated to value-added services in the Com World Series, and it met a need in the market. "The atmosphere throughout the event was very inspiring", says Julie Rey, Research Director at organisers Informa Telecoms and Media; "what we saw was a community of like-minded professionals getting together to ensure the success of their market".
VAS Africa will return in 2012 with an expanded programme of discussion to make the debates most fruitful for all the players in the market. Before then, VAS specialist can meet at AfricaCom in Cape Town on 9-10 November, where the programme includes special sessions on VAS, innovation, social media, mobile money and marketing and pricing.
Find out more about attending next year: www.comworldseries.com/vasafrica