An opportunity exploration and best practices analysis for South African mobile value-added companies entering the Ghanaian market

Hatting, Henry Lindo (2015-04)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Mobile penetration in Ghana and the rest of Western Africa is reaching maturity. Mobile operators are looking for ways to complement their traditional revenue streams, as they cannot merely rely on voice and short message service (SMS) income anymore. Mobile value-added services are a good addition to the portfolio, bringing much needed services like transactional banking, commerce, information and entertainment, insurance, and health information services to mobile users that had difficult to no access to the above services until recently. South African mobile value-added services (VAS) companies that have a good relationship with market leading mobile providers, like MTN, have the opportunity to tap into the Ghanaian market as these services predominantly consist of mobile financial services products with limited functionality. Other specific services like agriculture, health, entertainment and insurance have been identified as mobile subscriber needs in the Ghanaian market. The benefit that South African mobile value-added companies have is that they already have developed similar well-functioning value-added services for the local market where comparisons with the Ghanaian market dynamics can be found. These companies can tailor them to the specific needs and requirements of the market in Ghana, saving them time and having the much-needed first mover advantage with regards to new or better mobile VAS in this market. Ghana is seen as the most stable country in the West African region and ease of doing business is good in comparison with neighbouring countries like Nigeria. Ghana is therefore a good entry point for South African mobile VAS companies in the West African market to truly scale their business model. The researcher chose to investigate the opportunities and best ways to enter this market by interviewing a project manager and managing director of a leading mobile value-added services company doing business in emerging economies, including Ghana. Questionnaires were also sent to employees working for various mobile VAS employers with extensive experience in the research and development of mobile VAS in these markets. The researcher derived information on the difficulty of doing business in Ghana; the current available VAS in the Ghanaian market; factors that hinder business growth in this market specifically; drivers of success; the importance of partnering with leading mobile operators like MTN to be successful; how the South African business model can be compatible; South African and other African trends that will most likely overflow to Ghana; together with the size data-enabled VAS which will form part of the portfolio of products that mobile VAS companies can offer and be market ready for in the near future. The findings of the researcher can be used as a starting framework to further investigate and determine specific market size and to conduct in-depth market analysis of the needs and requirements of mobile subscribers with regards to mobile VAS in Ghana with the vision of moving into the rest of Western Africa.

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