22 May 2012

Mxit CEO Alan Knott-Craig gives his opinion on the South African VAS market, and says there needs to be a viable alternative to operator customer billing solutions...

Alan is founder of World of Avatar and CEO of Mxit, Africa’s largest social network. World of Avatar is a holding company for a number of mobile web companies focused on Africa. The biggest company is Mxit, Africa's largest social network without over 50million registered users.  The Com World Series team sat him down to gain a few insights into the South African services, content and apps market, ahead of his participation as a VIP speaker at VAS Africa. 
CWS: What does VAS mean to you?
AK-C: Products sold via the mobile operators, usually billed on premium rated SMS
CWS: How would you describe the growth of Value Added Services in Africa over the past year?
AK-C: In South Africa it has been stagnant. Outside of SA the revenue shares are simply too small for 3rd parties to make any money.
CWS: How important do you think cost-efficiency is for the delivery of VAS and why?
AK-C: Most of African mobile usage is via prepaid airtime and users are very sensitive to cost. Any costs in the process of delivering services hinders take-up, so a primary aim is always to reduce the cost of service delivery.
CWS: Who do you think are the major players in the African market affecting the VAS industry?
AK-C: Still the operators (MTN, Vodafone, Airtel, etc.)
CWS: What do you think are the 3 key areas VAS providers need to focus on in order to succeed in the African market?
AK-C: Usability across all handsets, (including WP7, Blackberry, iOS, Android and feature phones), exploring new ways of marketing, and finding alternatives to mobile operators for billing consumers.
CWS: Which key message do you want to highlight during your participation at VAS Africa in Johannesburg later this year? 
AK-C: The rest of the world is starting to awaken to the opportunities in Africa. The time to move is now, and our target market is not smartphone users. It is feature phone users.

Alan is founder of World of Avatar, and between 2003 and 2006 co-founded five companies in the mobile telecoms sector. In 2006 Alan was appointed managing director of iBurst, a wireless broadband network operator in South Africa. In April 2008 published Don’t Panic, a bestselling book aimed at persuading emigrant South Africans to return home. In June 2008 he founded The Trust, an NGO focused on assisting charities access skills and capital. In 2009 Alan was named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Alan is a qualified Chartered Accountant.

VAS Africa is the continent’s most exciting value added services, content & apps event, and when it launched last year it was hailed as a massive success. Participants praised the quality of the speakers, the depth of conference content, the breadth of discussion and the targeted networking with VAS decision-makers from across Africa.  Therefore the 2nd year promises to be even bigger and better. Sign up today to be part of Africa’s only dedictaed value added services conference and exhibition.  Sign up to for the 2012 agenda and event updates,  find out more about joining in the speaker line-up and apply today to sponsor or exhibit.

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