Hanlie SmutsWe talk to VAS Africa speaker Hanlie Smuts, General Manager, Product and Digital at MTN ahead of the event to hear her thoughts on the future of digital services in Africa.

Hanlie will be speaking at VAS Africa this coming 30 June – 1 July 2015 at the Sandton Maslow, Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information, view the agenda.

VAS Africa: What is the future of digital services in Africa and what do you think are the top 3 major trends affecting your business in the region?

Hanlie Smuts: You know that some research show that digital revenue is forecast to grow by 80%. It is key that as we business we need to understand the changing dynamics of how digital media content including video, games, music, etc. is created, sold, distributed, and consumed across different platforms, and how it can be monetised through advertising. From a customer perspective you need to match most watched content, for example music videos with most needed content (e.g. education) with most used platform (in our case, mobile).

VAS: Are we just at the tip of the iceberg with VAS in Africa and its potential for ROI?

HS: The market is evolving rapidly and there is a lot of convergence where non-telco players such as banks and retailers are entering the telco space and are providing services that have traditionally been offered by mobile network operators. In addition, platform owners are becoming independent service providers and we are seeing that with media houses launching VOD dongles. The world is increasingly moving into the digital space and we are seeing an uptake of e-commerce which is expected to become a significant revenue contributor.
We expect to see a lot of development in the VAS space, and I believe that what we are seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg – I would dare to venture that, as with N ICEBERG, 80% is “still under water.”

VAS: How central to operators’ business models should VAS be going forward?

HS: As you are aware, traditional revenue streams such as voice are declining and therefore alternative revenue streams have to be considered. In order to gain first mover advantage, telcos need to move up the value chain by leveraging on the ubiquity of smartphones,  and explore areas of monetisation.

VAS: Can you update us a little on the progress and uptake of MTN Frontrow?

HS: This week MTN showcased the benefits of FrontRow to the media when it streamed high bandwidth video content onto multiple mobile devices using its video on demand (VOD) offering. We are encouraged by the initial uptake of FrontRow and we believe that this service will gain traction as customers discover the product’s key differentiators.


 

VAS Africa will be taking place this 30 June – 1 July in Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information, or to register for VAS Africa, please visit: www.comworldseries.com/vasafrica

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