A technology startup named AfroReach Technology Plc has launched a locally made, enterprise-grade SMS platform called AfroMessage that enables Ethiopian businesses and developers to leverage the power of SMS with zero infrastructure setup as well as maintenance cost.
The platform, which went through a soft launch in April 2022, is a collaborative effort between Ethio Telecom and AfroReach, where the former provides the underlying SMS infrastructure support and the latter provides all the tooling and API functionalities.
“Adding SMS support to systems and business processes has been challenging in Ethiopia, mainly because no local businesses were providing adequate tooling and API support, and the international options were super expensive!” says Eshetu Abebe, the lead developer of AfroMessage and co-founder of AfroReach Technology Plc.
The traditional way of adding SMS support for businesses usually involves leasing a shortcode from Ethio Telecom along with a VPN line and trying to set up connectivity from a computer on their premises. This approach quickly becomes painful for businesses, mainly because of connectivity issues due to power outages or malfunctioning VPN lines.
This is not to mention the need to have dedicated manpower to monitor the day-to-day operations of the setup. There is also the issue of not getting as many brand names as you want with this setup. Usually, one brand name is associated with one shortcode.
But these problems are nonexistent at AfroReach as its servers are located at Ethio Telecom data centers. Businesses can also request as many brand names as they wish as long as they can verify their ownership of the brand names they request, which is a considerable value addition for businesses.
“With AfroMessage joining the market, individual developers, as well as businesses of different scales, will be able to leverage the power of SMS communications because the cost per SMS is only 5 cents, and there are different subscription packages for businesses of any size,” added Eshetu.
The platform is equipped with a powerful dashboard that enables users to organize themselves across different specialized teams, in addition to easy-to-use API endpoints for system integrators to add SMS support to their products.
The collaboration between AfroReach Technology and Ethio Telecom allows the former to approve businesses to use their brand names in their SMS communications both from within the platform dashboard as well as API endpoints.
SMS is an old but very powerful communication channel, and studies show that the average open rate for SMS messages is more than 90%. Some studies even push this number to as high as 99%.
“Receiving branded and personalized SMS messages is equivalent to receiving messages from a good friend. We strongly believe that the nature of SMS texts combined with the tooling support we have in the platform empowers businesses to put in place a highly effective communication channel,” says Eshetu, emphasizing the importance of their solution.
Since its launch in April this year, the company has been able to onboard many businesses from multiple sectors to use the platform.
“We are already powering up startups of different natures, including ride-hailing services, delivery startups, web hosting providers, e-commerce platforms, online booking services, real estate developers, and even beer companies,” says Eshetu
“The varied use cases these businesses put the platform to, and the reception so far has been very encouraging!” the co-founder added.
In order to use the platform, users will only need to visit The Web Application and create an account there. Once they verify their identity, they can test the platform in “Beta Testers” mode and send as many as 100 SMS texts for free.
As an added security feature, while in “Beta Testers” mode, users will only be able to send messages to verified contacts to avoid spamming and unethical use of the platform services.
For enterprises with full-fledged data centers and the required manpower, the platform is also available for “on-premise” deployment with all the features.