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Premium Rate SMS Soars in Kenya

January 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 149


Premium Rate SMS (PRS) has been around Kenya for more than a decade now. The price for sending SMS has fallen since. Currently, Safaricom allows subscribers to send unlimited SMS to each other for a flat daily fee of Kes 10 (about USD 0.12).

This pricing is a stone's drop from the Kes 5 per SMS charged in the early 2000s.


As a result, many co-workers collaborate through bulk SMS.

The following excerpt from Safaricom's website shows some of the many applications of bulk SMS:

Bulk SMS Business Messaging Solutions allow you to communicate quickly and directly with your target audience at an extremely affordable price. If you need to send out high volumes of text messages in one go e.g. running competitions and marketing campaigns, sending notifications to employees, notifying customers of deals, promotions and events etc, then the bulk SMS service is for you.

Online tools like facebook and twitter and, now more decidedly than ever, Google+ Circles, allows co-workers to have richer cooperation using varied tools such as smart-phones, laptops and smart phones.

Beyond Collaboration

The smart money is against the usefulness of premium rate SMS, the thesis being that because collaboration can be done dirt cheaply today, charging people to receive collaborative information is not sustainable commercially.

We cannot ignore this thesis as remains very plausible. However, it remains only a thesis. The fact is reflected in an even more plausible proposition: that smart phones and the internet are not even nearly as popular as the basic mobile phone.

According to the Communications Commissions of Kenya, internet penetration in Kenya as at June 2011 stood at 25.9% or about 10m internet users On the other hand mobile penetration was at 65%. The difference is much larger when you look at rural population.

Below is a excerpt from a CCK Gap Study:

According to the study, less than five percent of people living in rural areas use the Internet in spite of growth in the number of internet users from 1.7 million in 2007 to 10 million in June 2011. In most counties, Internet usage stands at below five per cent.

Mobile penetration grew by an average of 31% annually from 34% in 2007 to 65% by June 2011. Mobile subscribers on the other hand increased from 11 million in 2007 to 25million in June 2011.

At the sub-location level, more than 50% of the population uses mobile phones, with sub-locations in Nairobi, Kiambu and Nyeri counties leading with mobile telephone usage of about 70%.

Nationally, mobile usage is almost three times that of internet. In some counties, the factor approaches 10.

Obviously, collaboration is largely a city thing, with co-workers or independent collaborators like real estate professionals such as those in the Real Estate Network of Kenya sending bulk inquiries and information to each other. This might be because of the large concentration of knowledge workers you would find in cities.

But there is collaboration too on issues like alerting thousands of farmers on the price of commodities and inputs, alerting remotely stationed individuals on latest news, etc. These forms of collaborations concern a considerably larger number of people.

That said, even among city collaborators, people still, and widely so, pay to receive valuable information, especially from content providers who furnish information that could only be obtained by the investment of a lot of effort and funds. Here, we are looking at things like language lessons (e.g. daily lessons in French, Gujarati), distressed property alerts, financial news and the like.


Importantly, many people value serendipity, where they delegate the decision as to what content they will receive every day to some other person. Pulling content regularly and consistently from other sources such as the internet is not fun and many find it quite difficult to sustain after a few days. The surprise SMS in the morning with the daily financial analysis or Bible quote is refreshing as it is informational.

For these and many more reasons, premium rate sms have not only survived but grown steadily through the involvement of many small enterprising Kenyans pushing it, to mid level shared short codes like 5242 and the billion shilling soaring successes that the now infamous 6969 lotteries came to be.

Visit today to launch your premium rate SMS service and start earning.

Source: EzineArticles
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