While the African teleco market may not capture the headlines as much as other parts of the world, that’s not to say it’s being overlooked by the industry.
So it’s good to see the organisers of West & Central Africa’s largest telco event announcing record pre-registered attendance for the AfricaCOM event in Abuja, Nigeria.
Ian Hemming, CEO of event organisers Informa Telecoms & Media, said the 554 companies from 53 countries that are attending represent a 44 per cent uplift from last year.
Getting underway today, the two-day event caters for the region’s whole telecom ecosystem – fixed, mobile, wireless, satellite and integrated operators and service providers, investors, regulators, vendors and analysts.
Among the companies attending for the first time is Movius, the Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered messaging, collaboration and mobile media solutions specialist.
Michael Edgett, director of product marketing at Movius, said the company – formed in 2006 with the merger of IP Unity and the Messaging Division of Glenayre – has had a presence in Africa for a long time.
Its most recent dealings have largely been through channel partners, such as Nortel and Nokia Siemens, and South Africa-based operator MTN, which works throughout the region.
However, he told smartphone.biz-news they also did some direct sales and, as part of the drive to build on these, Movius representatives are attending the AfricaCOM event for the first time this year.
"Most of what we have been doing in Africa has been very simple voicemail and a few off-shoots," he said. "But we are seeing more growth opportunities and doing more ourselves."
Edgett said this meant the company has been able to extend its presence in the area and show off some of its other products.
For instance, Movius’ Voice SMS enables a user to send and receive an audio message, with a text message alert – allowing longer messages to be left.
"We are starting to see a lot of interest in Voice SMS in parts of the world where literacy is low or there are multiple languages," said Edgett.
The Voice SMS suite consists of both clientless solutions as well as Fun Talk SMS, a client solution that includes avatars, ringtones and background music.
Movius’ Visual Mail Suite includes MessageMe Plus, a clientless visual mail service that functions on any phone using SMS or MMS.
"There has been a lot of interest in Visual Voice Mail as a clientless solution and Voice SMS in general," said Edgett.
Another area receiving attention is Community Messaging – which provides a service to people without phones by giving them a personal phone number that can be checked from a public phone.
Edgett said this was attracting a lot of interest, particularly in rural areas or where people had moved to cities but wanted to contact friends and family in rural areas.
Edgett said focused shows such as West & Central AfricaCOM have proved to be of real value in developing new markets.
"We have continued to see a lot of growth in Africa and do not expect that to change," he said.