15 May 2012

CEO of Saya Mobile speaks out on VAS in Africa

Robert Lamptey is the CEO of Saya Mobile - an Angel funded technology startup in the Meltwater incubator which launched a mobile chat application for feature phones and smartphones in emerging economies. In the 2 months since it launched it's flagship app Saya, it has seen download numbers exceeding 150 thousand, 2Million messages sent on the system, and 37 thousand active users.

The Com World Series caught up with Robert to learn a bit more about Saya, ahead of Robert's presentation at VAS Africa - Johannesburg, 3-4 July.

CWS: What does VAS mean to you?
RL: VAS to me is the provision of services that supplement any other services a user may have, or be using, on a Telco's infrastructure. VAS is the icing on the cake for Telecoms services and may come in different flavors to suit a particular demographic.

CWS: How would you describe the growth of Value Added Services in Africa over the past year?
RL: I think over the past year, Data services have become cheaper thereby fueling a new and improve breed of VAS in Africa. We have seen more creative VAS being implemented across Africa because of this. 

CWS: What do you think has been a major change in the nature of value added services in the past year?
RL: a. The influx of cheap smart phones (in particular android devices), b. Cheaper data services, and c. More mobile-centric software developers.  These have influenced a lot of changes in how VAS are being implemented and consumed in Africa.

CWS: How important do you think cost-efficiency is for the delivery of VAS and why?
RL: In any industry, cost-efficiency means more revenues and hence it is expedient that VAS be run cost-efficiently. This will also allow for more innovations to take place.
CWS: Who do you think are the major players in the African market (or your region) affecting the VAS industry?
RL: Firstly short code providers (examples from Ghana are Rancard Mobility, SMSGh, Mobile Content.Com, etc), and secondly Mobile App Developers (like Saya, Streemio, Nandimobile, Mobile Web Ghana, 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?
RL: a. Data services, b. Mobile Devices & Mobile Operating systems, and c. Voice VAS services.

CWS:  Which key message do you want to highlight during your participation at VAS Africa in Johannesburg later this year? 
RL: That there are increasing mobile developer communities in Africa, and that we are seeing greater investment in mobile software apps by Telecoms companies. It's good news all round.

Robert is a Co-Founder and CEO of Saya Mobile, a mobile software development company in Ghana, and responsible for identifying and exploring new business opportunities & markets, coordinating sales & product development, and for negotiating & managing partnerships at Saya. He is an avid software developer with over 8 years of experience. Prior to Saya, he had been leading technical teams to develop international standard software applications for various multinationals in different industries.

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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