In view of the huge potentials inherent in Nigeria’s mobile phone market, Value Added Service (VAS) providers have stepped up engagement with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), telecommunications operators and other relevant stakeholders, specifically to deepen the scope of the burgeoning market. Analysts told BusinessDay that the market valued at $1 billion remains largely untapped. The Wireless Application Service Providers of Nigeria, (WASPAN), the umbrella body of firms providing value added services in the telecoms industry, has commenced a series of moves which it hopes will result in the development of the sector through a collaborative approach.
To this end, the group has brought together local and international experts in the VAS industry to look at ways of resolving knotty issues in the sector, especially matters bordering on relationship between VAS firms, operators and the telecoms regulator.
In one of such moves, WASPAN invited Leon Pelman, the founder and Board Chairman, WASPA- South Africa, for a special meeting in Abuja recently with the NCC and other stakeholders. While, the details of the meeting were not revealed, a chat with the Pelman showed that discussion revolved around how Nigeria could adopt the model of relationship between mobile network operators and VAS firms in South Africa.
Pelman noted that the current issues that are confronting VAS industry in Nigeria were not peculiar to the country, but were similar to issues that other climes have had to contend with in the past, when they were at the same level of development of their telecommunications industry that Nigeria is today.
It will be recalled that wireless application service providers, (VAS companies) have been embroiled with telecoms operators over revenue share, while copyright issues have also reared come up in recent years, resulting in the NCC calling for collaborative solution to the matters. Pelman stated that in the early days of the mobile phone industry in South Africa, there were a lot of issues that cropped up between operators and VAS companies, adding that when the matters got to a stage, there was a need to form WASPA- South Africa.
He noted that since the formation of the group, which is made up of VAS companies and representatives of telecom operators in South Africa, major issues of disagreement between VAS companies and operators have been resolved. He added that both telecoms operators and VAS companies have since been jointly developing solutions for the public. Simon Aderinola, the National Coordinating Consultant at WASPAN, noted that the group decided to embark on this new collaborative approach because of the belief that it is the best way of bringing everyone involved in the sector to fully understand issues and develop economic potential of the VAS sector.
“Although, VAS firms are competitors, we have come together to help provide a common platform that can resolve issues and also quickly move this industry forward. “We feel that a ‘co-ompetitive’ approach is what is needed now so that we can achieve an industry that is beneficial to all of us.
BEN UZOR JR