Sharma explored VAS trends on the continent in an interview with ITNewAfrica at the just concluded VAS Africa conference, held in Sandton, South Africa.
“Different VAS services have emerged in different markets. In Africa the most prominent trend currently is money,” says Sharma.
“Most operators are excited about money services such as M-pesa from Safaricom. When we consider the operator’s revenue other than voice, mobile money takes the lead,” Sharma explained.
One of the most common VAS trends shaping the African market is mobile money. “Almost all global operators have launched mobile money services. This is an important socio-economic trend in Africa.
Mobile money reaches out to the unbanked and it’s transforming the way people live. It’s good for operators and it’s good for people,” says Sharma.
Another important VAS trend is data. “The growth of data for every operator is tremendous. About 11% of the data revenue for operators is coming from Africa,” he added.
Traditionally messaging has been the largest contributor, but data is growing very quickly. Sharma warns that operators need to manage the cost associated with data efficiently.
“Revenue is growing but data is sometimes not as profitable as traditional voice due to stiff competition. Data prices have really been low in most markets in Africa.”
“Comviva is doing a lot of work in that area, with about 40% reduction in the cost of data platforms”, he added.
The third VAS mobile trend is lifestyle. The lifestyle VAS trend shows the emergence of SMS, USSD or voice products that cater for entertainment, for example TV voting competitions, Ring Back Tone (RBTs) and music on demand.
“In future we will see a different mix of portals being released in the market,” Sharma concluded.