6 Nov 2014

Top 5 Points African Businesses Must Consider While Procuring Technology Solutions

Africa is one of the fastest growing regions today in the world. After the 2008 global recession when
demand for technology products and services in the developed markets went down, technology firms across the world have focused more on Emerging markets like Africa. While this gives African businesses access to technology which helps in their growth, it is important that the technology solutions they are provided with are relevant to the specific needs and requirements of Africa.

Technology Solutions can revolutionize businesses in Africa but there are certain aspects that one needs to keep in mind while procuring technology solutions. Here are the Top 5 aspects to consider:

  1. Africa Deployment Experience: - The best proof of a technology vendor understanding the African market and of having the ability to deliver is the vendor having existing deployments in Africa. That means that the vendor has actual on the ground experience of deploying their solution in Africa, and so has gone through the learning curve already (Preferably many times in different deployments in different parts of Africa).
    This does not mean that the importance of the vendor’s deployment experience in other markets especially in the developed world goes down. That still is a plus point for the vendor as many companies in the developed markets have a very rigorous vendor selection process and monitor the vendor very closely using strict measures to ensure that they deliver the project. The Africa experience of the vendor is important on top of this, to ensure that the vendor knows how to customize their solution and delivery process to still deliver successfully, despite different infrastructure challenges, unique market dynamics, and work culture in Africa.
  2. Regional Focus On Africa: - It is important that the Vendor has a proper Org wide focus on Africa. This is to ensure that the vendor marshals their best resources in terms of technology and people for delivering projects in Africa at the Sales, Deployment, and Post-Deployment stage. That will ensure that the African businesses get the best technology delivered in time and with high quality, and that they continue to get timely technology support for their business. This is important, since the African businesses are already working in tough, dynamic and competitive markets. They would hence want technology and support to be perfect and of highest quality to help their business.
  3. Solution Should Overcome Local Infrastructure Challenges:- In some markets in Africa, IT and Network infrastructure challenges could exist and the African Technology buyer might want to use e.g. Open Source Database to keep the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the technology lower. The technology vendor’s solution should be able to work in alignment with these needs. E.g. our company Panamax has a Mobile Finance solution called Mobifin which is deployed in 10 countries in Africa, and it very elegantly handles network downtime and network congestion scenarios. The solution has transaction message queues with a retry mechanism, and also sends timely responses to mobile user to let him/her know status of transaction and to prevent multiple transaction attempts by mobile user etc.
  4. Solution Should Be Flexible, Customizable, and Easily Localized: - In many markets in Africa, the regulatory environment is fluid, and so technology solutions should be flexible and customizable to help easily adapt to regulatory changes. Also, many African markets have different languages with their own scripts and also many of the end users cannot read and write, and the technology solutions should be able to address that. That is why our Panamax Telecom and Mobile Finance software solutions are customizable and flexible. Also, our solutions provide Dynamic IVR support to address the market segment which cannot read or write. At Panamax, we have coded our Mobile Finance solution using PHP language to support virtually all language scripts.
  5. Solutions Should have viable commercial models: - While opportunity for business growth is huge in Africa, competition is also tough and like with most other emerging markets funds are also scarce. So African businesses need cost effective solutions provided using favourable and flexible commercial models. So technology providers should like our company Panamax does, provide aggressive pricing to customers in Africa along with the flexibility in commercial model of engagement e.g. We provide both the CAPEX/License Model and the OPEX + Revenue Share Model.

Vijay Krishnan Gopalakrishnan has a keen interest in writing about Telecom Technology and MFS
solutions. His wide experience of working with several clients in Africa has provided him the stimulus for penning down this blog post. He is currently working at Panamax Inc. as a Regional Head for Middle-East & Africa.

Panamax Inc. is the technology solutions arm of the USD 180 Million Bankai Group. We have a great focus on Africa as a region with Panamax software solutions deployed or under deployment in more than 10 countries in the region, and with our parent company Bankai which is one of the world’s biggest wholesale voice player working with telecom service providers across Africa since 2 decades.

Panamax has the following world class software solutions for the Telecom and Finance Industries: (i) End-To-End Carrier Wholesale Needs including billing, routing, and mediation, (ii) Class 4 B2B IP Soft switch with Billing and Routing capabilities, (iii) Class 5 B2C IP Soft Switches, and (iv) A Comprehensive Mobile Finance and Payments Solution.

Panamax Inc. will be at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town on Stand B18. AfricaCom is your essential destination for networking, learning and business development - no other emerging market communications event compares! It is the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision makers from the entire digital ecosystem.

Click here to register now!

Satellite Expands Horizons Over Africa

Africa’s digital landscape, much like the continent’s physical landscape, can best be described as one that is both vast and expansive. Improving economic conditions over the last few years have led to fast growth rates in telecom, which in turn helps create opportunities that impact all aspects, both socially and professionally.

According to Deloitte, on average, mobile subscription penetration has reached 72% across Africa (with penetration rates varying by country). Further growth in subscriber levels will be driven by better network coverage in rural areas and operating models adapted to serving such remote connectivity needs and mobile data connectivity, among other factors.

This speaks well to the growing opportunities for satellite communication in Africa. Up to this point, improvements in satellite connectivity have helped lower the cost and bridge the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world. But coming innovations could mean that satellite’s most prominent role is still on the horizon.

While the majority of satellite capacity demand across Africa remains allocated to media and direct-to-home, opportunities in enterprise connectivity continue to take shape across the continent. This is driven in part by a growth across multiple segments like finance, health, offshore oil and gas and mining along with changing market dynamics for traditional satellite markets like mobile backhaul. Taking oil and gas, for example, VSAT connections have become an ideal technology in these markets for sending large data files such as seismic images and supporting greater use of video, among other bandwidth-intensive applications.

Add in the ongoing role that government is playing in adopting digital communications and the influx of mobile applications, including mobile banking, mobile health and even various agricultural-based solutions and the need for capacity in Africa is accelerating.

The coming of high throughput satellites (HTS) should help to meet this accelerated demand for bandwidth that is building across Africa. Statistics from NSR project the Middle East and North Africa region to be among the more diverse markets for HTS applications with 50 Gbps of demand by 2023, 16 Gbps of which will be driven by enterprise. In the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, 95% of HTS throughput utilized will be enterprise and broadband access.

And while the coming of HTS helps to handle this influx of demand, an important piece will be associated with the wireless transport of such data in a reliable and cost-effective manner. As such, mobile backhaul remains one of the most significant of growth markets on the horizon. Satellite with its unique capabilities of ubiquitous coverage, high reliability, fast installation combined with new wireless infrastructure capabilities utilizing small cells create a more cost effective solution for connecting remote and rural areas throughout Africa.

In all, this speaks to the role that we in the satellite industry must continue to play ensuring the infrastructure is built in the most cost-effective and reliable manner. The industry is changing and new innovations are coming.

iDirect continues to be laser focused on developing satellite infrastructure that enables satellite operators and service providers to deliver the most reliable, cost efficient connectivity solutions to the market. The iDirect intelligent platform including our universal hub, single network management system and portfolio of remote terminals enables connectivity in Africa and around the globe.


iDirect will be at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town on stand B23. AfricaCom is your essential destination for networking, learning and business development – no other emerging market communications event compares! It is the biggest and best tech event in Africa that gathers together senior decision-makers from the entire digital ecosystem.

Click here to register now!

5 Nov 2014

Digital Africa Analyzer Tool: Connectivity empowers Africa’s digital transformation

This year Ovum has published a report especially for AfricaCom 2014, the Digital Africa Analyzer Tool: Connectivity empowers Africa’s digital transformation. Downloadhere for more information on this service, which contains data-sets from Ovum’s World Cellular Information Service, World Broadband Information Service and Broadband Development Index, as well as results from Ovum’s Digital Africa 2014 survey.

We are pleased to ahve Ovum as the Official Research Partner for AfricaCom 2014.

For last minute tickets to AfricaCom, please click here: http://africa.comworldseries.com/register/

Wi-Fi Calling and Venue Wi-Fi: Two Big Trends for 2015

By Johan Terve, VP Marketing, Aptilo Networks

AfricaCom will be buzzing with two of the hottest trends for 2015: Wi-Fi Calling and Venue Wi-Fi. These trends are crucial for carriers looking to monetize Wi-Fi.

While the ability to make voice calls over Wi-Fi has been around for some time, next-generation Wi-Fi Calling has come of age thanks to some bold moves in our industry. Next-gen Wi-Fi Calling uses any Wi-Fi network for transporting voice calls that would normally go over cellular networks. All of a sudden mobile operators can offer coverage for their voice services everywhere people are connected to Wi-Fi.

Don’t mix this up with the Voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) solutions, with third-party clients in the device, that have been available for many years. This is a next-generation Wi-Fi Calling with VoWiFi and VoLTE support natively integrated in the smartphone dialer, which offers a totally seamless user experience (will also work for GSM).

The Aptilo Wi-Fi calling solution, with our advanced 3GPP AAA, performs the critical functions of authenticating users and applying any necessary policies for the Wi-Fi calling service and provides some innovative features to make it all work in real-world deployments.

With Wi-Fi Calling mobile operators can take care of 100% of their subscribers’ need for voice – a significant customer retention opportunity.  They can do this without deploying a single Wi-Fi access point. However, there are at least two very good reasons why mobile operators should deploy Wi-Fi:

  • According to a recent study by Mobidia, without Wi-Fi footprint mobile operators will potentially end up taking care of just 10-20% of their subscribers’ data traffic. This will have a significant impact on churn.
  • They will get better control of quality of service (QoS) for Wi-Fi Calling in their own Wi-Fi networks.

Another big trend for 2015 is Venue Wi-Fi, and Aptilo SMP bridges the gap between Carrier Wi-Fi and the kind of Wi-Fi one would find in, for example, a sports stadium. Carrier Wi-Fi is focused on providing a secure, automatic login of users while venue Wi-Fi requires user interaction for branding and advertising. By combining the benefits of Carrier and Venue Wi-Fi, operators can offer venue owners Wi-Fi services to deliver an engaging end-user experience that will keep users coming back for more.
They can do this while providing a secure carrier-class service with automatic authentication flows for selected user groups.

For instance, Wi-Fi can be integrated with various types of applications and information to engage with consumers, drive social media exposure and learn about users/guests to provide more relevant services. Custom-branded Wi-Fi portals can anchor site- and event-specific advertising and marketing initiatives. Wi-Fi landing pages and login pages and advertising can be branded to reflect the venue, teams, sporting events, and even sponsors. These branded opportunities reach guests in a unique and memorable way.

Visit Aptilo Networks at stand B3 at AfricaCom to learn how we can help you to Step Up Your Wi-Fi which is our theme for this year’s event. Register for your AfricaCom pass here: http://africa.comworldseries.com/register/


4 Nov 2014

Mobile Monday are hosting an End of Year Bash to kick off AfricaCom 2014!

To celebrate this extraordinary year in mobile and South Africa's 20th anniversary of telecommunications in the country, they have an amazing speaker lined up. 12 time published and the man of mobile Tomi Ahonen will be the key note speaker at this years’ function!

The event will take place at 18:00 on Monday the 10th of November 2014 at the Pepenero Restaurant in Cape Town! Drinks and snacks will be served to help celebrate this past year! It will be a great way to start Africa Com 2014 and a fantastic opportunity both to network and have fun!

Email momo2014@mobilemonday.org.za to secure your seat!

For the 2nd year running Mobile Monday will be chairing the AfricaApps sessions at AfricaCom!

AfricaCom is Africa's premier communications congress and exhibition returns to Cape Town on the 11-13 November for its biggest and best year yet!

This year’s conference programme will cover a host of new topics affecting companies in Africa’s digital market. Experience strategic content from 300+ business supremos and digital gurus, representing the entire communications ecosystem across Africa and beyond. Africa Com is your essential destination for networking, learning and business development - no other emerging market communications event compares.

It's not too late! Secure your conference pass or FREE exhibition ticket here: http://africa.comworldseries.com/register/

This year’s event is brought to you by Intel and WeChat

MNOs cash in on Africa’s growing banking sector

By Nour Al Atassi, Regional Vice President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Syniverse.

Africa is taking a cue from global GSMA forecasts indicating that more than 350 mobile network operators will launch LTE services by the end of the year. More and more of Africa’s operators are bypassing 3G to rollout LTE networks in preparation for the country’s increasing smartphone penetration that is being driven by a rising economy and falling prices for connectivity and components. The mobile technologies enabled by high-speed LTE are creating a mobile revolution in Africa that outpaces some big-name cities in the developed world as African nations are increasingly turning to mobile to overcome challenges associated with the lack of infrastructure and accessibility.

One of the major users of mobile technology in the region is the financial sector, which is leveraging mobile’s versatility to reach those who find it difficult to access ATMs, accounts, credit cards or cash. Mobile payment wallets are enabling subscribers to transfer money, pay their bills and purchase goods via their phones. The proliferation of this type of mobile interaction was highlighted in a GSMA report revealing that 52 percent of the 219 mobile money deployments made around the globe in 2013 were in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile banking in Africa is largely conducted via SMS, which would make up a major portion of the $10.4 billion in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) operator revenues for 2013 that Portio Research reported in its 2014-2018 Mobile Messaging Futures report. Additionally, some industry analysts report that operator revenues in MENA will reach up to $96 billion by 2018.

Pressing on the banking opportunity in Africa is the influx of more than 33 million international business and leisure travelers who’ve come to rely on their mobile devices for daily activities, including banking, and need the same quality of mobile service while traveling anywhere in the world.

Global Mobile Banking Trends Impacting Africa 

With only one in three people having subscribed to a mobile service in Africa, there is much room for growth. There are few other regions in the world with as much room to scale. As smartphone penetration increases, device banking will enable operators in Africa to create new revenue streams by selling the subscriber data they hold on their mobile users to local and international financial institutions. This data, known as mobile context, looks at a user’s browsing behavior, geolocation, purchasing preference and opt-in consent. Financial institutions can integrate this mobile context data with their own customer databases to create a complete customer profile that tells the unique story of where an individual frequents, their purchasing preferences and their social networks. As a result, customers can gain banking access and personalized services.

Advanced use of mobile context allows financial institutions to cater to individual accountholders by providing real-time account updates and notifications, fraud protection, customer service updates and loyalty campaigns. These communications can come via multiple channels, including SMS, MMS, web, social networks, mobile app push notifications and email.
An example of how this type of data is being used for those traveling to and from Africa is the fraud protection pilot program between Syniverse and MasterCard. The service ties the geolocation of a customers’ opted-in mobile device with the location of their credit card transaction to confirm that the mobile device is in the same location where a sale or purchase is taking place. With 80 percent of declined transactions made abroad actually being legitimate, these types of services are essential to reducing the amount of declined transactions for traveling banking customers.

Because this data is so valuable to enterprises, including financial institutions, the mobile context market is estimated to be worth $44 billion annually. The key to tapping into this market is by investing in LTE and leveraging partnerships with a global mobile transaction provider.

Banking on LTE

While LTE provides the bandwidth necessary to provide subscribers with next-gen mobile banking services, a mobile transaction processor with global reach can eliminate the costly complexities associated with managing the behind-the-scenes business and technical relationships between operators and financial institutions. To fully benefit from LTE, it’s essential that operators in Africa are able to use a single connection to a transaction processor to obtain flawless interoperability with their partnering operators and are able to exchange mobile context data with financial institutions. The one-to-multiple connections approach allows operators to focus on how to best meet subscriber needs without concerns over disparate network and technology standards.

Implementing LTE infrastructure will remain a critical element in enabling African nations to sustain their rising number of smartphone subscribers, mobile context users and their growing banking sector— all of which rely on fast mobile connections.

About Syniverse 
Syniverse is the leading global transaction processor that connects more than 1,500 mobile service providers, enterprises, ISPs and OTTs in nearly 200 countries and territories, enabling seamless mobile communications across disparate and rapidly evolving networks, devices and applications. We deliver innovative cloud-based solutions that facilitate superior end-user experiences through always-on services and real-time engagement. For more than 25 years, Syniverse has been simplifying complexity to deliver the promise of mobility – a simple, interoperable experience, anytime, anywhere. For more information, visit www.syniverse.com, follow Syniverse on Twitter or connect with Syniverse on Facebook.

Syniverse will be at AfricaCom 2014 at Stand - Dont miss out! Register here: http://africa.comworldseries.com/register/ 

3 Nov 2014

Mobile Phone and SMS Use: A Perspective for Africa


SMS is here to stay. Yes, really, it’s not going anywhere.

The reasons for its staying-power are many, but the ones that are considered most prominent are two: it is the most ubiquitous means of communication and by far the cheapest. SMS does not require sophisticated smartphones, data connections, 3G or LTE but works on anything from an underlying GSM network to more advanced and sophisticated technologies.

Simply put, any phone can send and receive SMSs at affordable rates.

Although SMS was originally intended to be a means of communication between subscribers, today it has evolved into an effective marketing and communication tool used by companies to reach out to their clients or attract new ones. Additionally, there are mobile phone and SMS uses that are highly applicable to Africa as outlined in this article.

Mobile phone ownership in Africa

According to recent research carried out by Gallup.com, Sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest growing mobile market in the world after Asia, with the GSMA forecasting the region's mobile users will reach 346 million by 2017. However, unlike the rest of the world which has firmly embraced smartphones, according to Informa, African smartphone penetration is growing at a slower rate.

In spite, or maybe as a result of the low smartphone penetration rates, Africans have devised innovative ways to improve their quality of life with whatever mobile phone they own.

This boils down to the fact that SMS can be sent or received on any mobile phone, irrespective of age, model or brand.

Mobile phones are changing lives in Africa

By being used creatively in industries such as banking, education, entertainment, disaster management, agriculture and health, mobile phones are improving the lives of many in Africa.

Today, mobile money is used for bill payments and to buy goods, teaching material can be accessed on a mobile phone educating children who are unable to receive a formal education. In times of crises, mobile phones can help reconnect family members, whilst farmers make use of SMSs to share weather updates, crop prices and micro-insurance schemes. The health sector has also benefitted greatly from SMS, using it to verify whether medicine is genuine or counterfeit, deliver health and lifestyle tips and send check-up reminders.

Messito fits right into this climate 

In a continent enveloped in mobile and SMS use which shows no signs of abating, Messito can service various industries to send SMSs to multiple or individual mobile phone users in Africa and beyond, reliably, efficiently and at advantageous rates.

Other industries that may consider the use of SMS for informational or promotional purposes are aviation, e-commerce, retail, hospitality, recruitment and travel.

Messito’s user interface is easy to use and loaded with fantastic features to make the sending process simple and straightforward. Features include scheduled sending, custom sender name, multi-user accounts, statistics and more.

Messito also offers the option of sending SMSs with minimal human interaction through the use of its API feature. This powerful, yet easy to integrate API, provides programmatic access to Messito’s growing range of functionalities.

SMS could be the foundation for your next business venture

The demand for SMS in Africa is real.

Messito is offering the opportunity to repackage and resell the Messito SMS platform, with no initial investment. With the technology here for the taking, this is the right time to consider a new business opportunity in the SMS communication industry.

Let’s get to know each other at AfricaCom 2014 - register here: http://africa.comworldseries.com/register/

To find out more about Messito and how your business can benefit from our solution, come by stand P16 for a chat or contact us on info@messito.com to schedule a meeting.

About Messito

Developed in 2006, Messito is a web-based SMS marketing platform, capable of sending high volumes of SMSs. With access to over 800 networks worldwide, Messito reliably delivers text messages, irrespective of location or mobile network provider. Messito can also be “white-labelled” enabling interested parties to embark on their own bulk SMS venture. Alternatively, Messito’s API is available for those businesses who need to connect their various IT systems or web applications to Messito.

Messito is owned and managed by Fortytwo Marketing, a provider of online, user-friendly and cost-effective marketing solutions.