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Hot Gossip: Twitter Returning to Africa with Zain!

By Wayan Vota on August 18, 2009

Last year the microblogging service Twitter, pulled its outbound SMS service from Africa. While only a few technology elite bemoaned its loss, for me it was a great disappointment. Twitter didn’t see that the SMS carrier fees Twitter had to pay ($1,000 per account per year on average) to send SMS to African subscribers were worth future value of these users.

Now ArabCrunch reports that Twitter is in talks with Zain to bring outbound SMS alerts back to Africa for its subscribers. And that’s a big deal!

Why Twitter Matters to African ICT Businesses

Twitter is an amazingly convenient way for businesses to reach their best customers, quickly, with breaking news. In the USA, its mainly a web application. In Africa, with its small Internet user based but explosive mobile phone penetration (greater than light bulbs!), Twitter’s SMS return can herald a whole new way to get and keep customer attention with targeted messages. For example:

  1. Daily specials and sales
  2. Location updates of technicians or sales reps
  3. Quick feedback to customer questions
  4. Service outage or downtime updates
  5. Virus or hacking threats

That’s just the internal use of Twitter. Add in the sales possibilities around training clients how to use Twitter or upgrading them to hosted SMS options like Frontline SMS or RapidSMS and the return of Twitter to Africa could become a real boost to ICT adoption. Just look at its Facebook in Africa, Twitter already become a must-have for the tech elite and leading companies, and its just getting started. Expect it to rival Facebook due to is amazing ease of use and immediate gratification for both sender and receiver of the tweet.

Africa-Focused Twitter Experimentation

At Inveneo, we’re experimenting with Twitter and hosted SMS options to develop solutions for the African market. Just this past weekend, we ran a real-time SMS feedback demo at Maker Faire Africa, using Frontline SMS and Twitter. Of course, to keep up with our ideas, be sure to subscribe to:

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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