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South Africa - Premium SMS, Short Code Requirements


The regulations in South Africa caters and covers all of the Mobile Payment types, that includes Premium SMS BillingStandard Rate ServicesShort Codes, WAP Billing and Operator Billing.



waspa_logo.gif WASPA - Wireless Application Service Providers Association 

WASPA was initially formed in 2004 as a voluntary self-regulatiory body with a remit of representing and self-regulating mobile-based value added service providers, otherwise known as WASPs. It now has over 250 members, while membership of WASPA has been made compulsory by Vodacom, MTN and CellC as a condition of them providing services to WASPs.




vodacom_logo.png Vodacom

Vodacom is a pan-African mobile telecommunications company and was the 1st cellular network in South Africa. It providesGSM service to more than 35 million customers in South Africa, Tanzania, Lesotho, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Revenue for the year ended 31 March 2008 was 48.178 billion South African Rand. It was owned on a 50:50 basis by the South African telecommunications group Telkom and the British mobile phone operator Vodafone. On 6 November 2008 Vodafone announced that it had agreed to increase its stake to 65%, and Telkom said that it would spin off its remaining holding by listing it on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. On April 1 2011, Vodacom officially unveiled its new change in branding from blue to red. This is in keeping with its UK parent company, Vodafone.


logo_cellc.gif CellC

Cell C's website states: "In 2010, we rebranded and repositioned as the possibilities provider that really puts the customer at the centre of everything that we do. With the aim of taking the lead in the mobile communications race, we are making a tremendous effort to positively transform the lifestyle and livelihood of our customers. So in an industry where innovation is key, we were the first to operate on a dual band network. We were also first to offer cost-effective call options like per second billing. And right now, we’re working on even more firsts, like building the first H+ 900 network in South Africa which already covers close to 67% of the population of South Africa with a network that provides customers with a stronger signal both indoors and outdoors."


mtn_logo.jpg MTN 

As a major communications company, MTN is focused on the African continent. We believe that through access to communication comes economic empowerment. The MTN Group operates three business divisions: MTN-SA (South Africa), MTN International, and Strategic Investments. We are listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange under the Telecommunications Service Sector (which falls under the Industrial Non-Cyclical Services).



Market Statistics


South Africa’s telecom sector boasts the continent’s most advanced networks in terms of technology deployed and services provided. In a virtually saturated voice market, four mobile networks – Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom SA – are competing for market share in the next growth wave, mobile broadband. 3G/HSPA mobile broadband services now rival available DSL fixed-line offerings in terms of both speed and price, and consequently subscriber numbers. 2010 also saw the first trials of the next generation of mobile technology, LTE (also referred to as 4G) in South Africa. While emerging as the country’s leading broadband providers, the major mobile operators are also branching out into fixed-lines, fibre backbone networks, international fibre connectivity, mobile banking and entertainment in a rapidly converging environment. Fixed-line incumbent Telkom SA has reacted by launching its own 3G mobile network and the country’s first commercial WiMAX service, but various competitors are hard on its heels rolling out the same technology, including second national operator Neotel.



Area: Total: 1,219,090 sq km Land: 1,214,470 sq km Water: 4,620 sq km
Cities: Pretoria (administrative capital)
Terrain: vast interior plateau rimmed by rugged hills and narrow coastal plain
Climate: mostly semiarid; subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

Nationality: Noun: South African(s) Adjective: South African
Population: 49,004,031 (July 2011 est.)
Annual population growth rate: -0.38% (2011 est.)
Language: siZulu (official) 23.82%, IsiXhosa (official) 17.64%, Afrikaans (official) 13.35%, Sepedi (offcial) 9.39%, English (official) 8.2%, Setswana (official) 8.2%, Sesotho (official) 7.93%, Xitsonga (official) 4.44%, siSwati (official) 2.66%, Tshivenda (official) 2.28%, isiNdebele (official) 1.59%, other 0.5% (2001 census)
Flag: south_africa_flag.jpg


Type: Republic
Independence: 31 May 1910 (Union of South Africa formed from four British colonies: Cape Colony, Natal, Transvaal, and Orange Free State); 31 May 1961 (republic declared); 27 April 1994 (majority rule)
Constitution: 10 December 1996; note - certified by the Constitutional Court 4 December 1996; was signed by then President MANDELA 10 December 1996; and entered into effect 4 February 1997
Branches: chief of state: President Jacob ZUMA; Deputy President Kgalema  MOTLANTHE; head of government: President Jacob ZUMA; Deputy President Kgalema MOTLANTHE; cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
Political parties: African Christian Democratic Party; African National Congress; Congress of the People; Democratic Alliance; Freedom Front Plus; Independent Democrats; Inkatha Freedom Party; Pan-Africanist Congress; United Christian Democratic Party; United Democratic Movement
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Nominal GDP: $524 billion (2010 est.)
GDP per capita: $10,700 (2010 est.)
Annual GDP growth rate: 2.8% (2010 est.)
Natural resources: gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, rare earth elements, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt, natural gas
Agriculture: corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables; beef, poultry, mutton, wool, dairy products
Industry: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs, commercial ship repair
Trade: Export - China 13.7%, US 10.1%, Japan 8.7%, Germany 7.3%, UK 7.1%, India 4.3% (2010) Import - China 13.4%, Germany 11.2%, US 7%, Saudi Arabia 5.3%, Japan 4.7%, Iran 4.3%, UK 4.3% (2010)



Market Growth

General region↓ Total number of Internet users (thousands)↓ Internet Users per 100 inhab.↓ Total population (thousands)↓ GDP per capita↓ GDP total (thousands)↓ Mobile subscibers per 100 inhab.↓ Total number of mobile subscribers (thousands)↓
 Africa  49053  9.0  49,320  $10,243  505214000  94.2  45000
[source] [source] [source] [source] [source] [source] [source] [source]



The rand (sign: R; code: ZAR) is the currency of South Africa. The rand has the symbol "R" and is subdivided into 100 cents, symbol "c". 

100 ZAR in £GBP

100 ZAR in $USD

100 ZAR in €EUR


Approval Process

As part of the application process for a short code, you will need to complete a txtNation Customer Care Form (CCF).


Promotional Guidelines

You should read and review the WASPA Code of Conduct saved at the bottom of this page. You can find the latest version here.

As per section 4 of General provisions in the Code of Conduct: 

Content control - 4.5

  • Members must not knowingly transmit or publish illegal content.
  • If a member becomes aware of illegal content under that member's control, the member must, immediately suspend access to that content. Where required to do so by law, the member must report the illegal content to the relevant enforcement authority.
  • Members must co-operate with any content orders lawfully issued by enforcement authorities.

Decency - 4.8

  • Members will not provide any services or promotional material that:
    - contains a visual presentation of explicit violent sexual conduct, bestiality, incest or rape or extreme violence which constitutes incitement to cause harm;
    - results in any unreasonable invasion of privacy;
    - induces an unacceptable sense of fear or anxiety;
    - encourages or incites any person to engage in dangerous practices or to use harmful substances;
    - induces or promote racial disharmony;
    - causes grave or widespread offence; or
    - debases, degrade or demeans.


As per section 5.8 of the Code of Conduct - The full terms and conditions page of each service, must include the following points:

(a) the registered company name of the WASPA member providing the service;
(b) a customer support number;
(c) unsubscribe instructions (for subscription services);
(d) any handset compatibility requirements for the service;
(e) an indication that network fees may apply;
(f) an indication of how billing errors are handled;
(g) a statement that the service must only be used with the permission
of the bill-payer (for services);
(h) a statement that the service must only be used with the permission
of a parent or guardian (for children's services); and
(i) the following statement: "[member name] is a member of WASPA and is bound by the WASPA Code of Conduct. Customers have the right to approach WASPA to lodge a complaint in accordance with the WASPA complaints procedure. [member name] may be required to share information relating to a service or a customer with WASPA for the purpose of resolving a complaint. WASPA web site:".


Any adult service must be clearly indicated as such in any promotional material and advertisement, and must contain the words "18+ only". Members must take reasonable steps to ensure that only persons of 18 years of age or older have access to adult content services. Reasonable steps may include the customer confirming his or her age prior to or as part of initiating the service.

For further information surrounding the rules and regulations, please see the Code of Conduct.


Messages Flow Requirements

R200 Notifications are required for all other services excluding subscriptions

Subscriptions: These no longer require a notification sent at R200 however the user must still be informed monthly that they are subscribed to a service. 

> Welcome message
15.16. Once a customer has joined a subscription or notification service, an SMS message must immediately be sent to the customer confirming the initiation of the service. This message is referred to as the “welcome message”. The customer must not be charged for the welcome message.

15.17. The welcome message must be a single message and may not contain any line breaks or carriage returns. The welcome message must begin with the word "welcome" and then contain only the following additional information:
(a) the name of the service,
(b) the pricing information,
(c) a customer support number,
(d) instructions for terminating the service, and
(e) (optionally) a link to a WAP landing page or a web page describing the service.

> Reminder messages
15.18. A reminder SMS message must be sent to a subscription or notification service customer within 30 days of the initiation of the service, and once per calendar month thereafter. This message is referred to as the “reminder message”. The customer must not be charged for any reminder message.

15.19. The reminder message must be a single message for each service the customer is subscribed to and must not contain any line breaks or carriage returns. The reminder message must begin with the word "reminder" and then contain only the following additional information:
(a) the name of the service,
(b) the pricing information,
(c) a customer support number,
(d) instructions for terminating the service, and
(e) (optionally) a link to a WAP landing page or a web page describing the service.

15.20. Some notification services are of a seasonal nature (example: sports-related notifications). During calendar months where a member does not send the customer any notifications and where no billing takes place, the member is not required to send a monthly reminder message.


Service Types

Please see the Code of Conduct at the bottom of this page for further information in relation to these service types. 

Section 18. Promotional competitions

Section 19. Charitable promotions

Section 20. Contact and dating services

Section 21. Interactive voice response services

Section 22. Adult services - see WASP Adult Content Policy & Guidelines PDF at the bottom of this page for further information on what is allowed. 

Section 23. Children


Billing Types

We operate on Mobile Originated (MO) billed line on dedicated lines in South Africa. See forum entry "What are the SMS billing types available?" for more information on these billing types.


Short codes 

On our dedicated code in South Africa, we operate on a 5 digit short code for each carrier. 



The current South Africa rate of tax is available via Wikipedia. The out-payments on our rate cards are exclusive of VAT, so if you are VAT registered you can claim a higher out payment than is shown.


Dedicated Codes 

Dedicated codes are available with a 2 - 5 week lead time depending on carrier availability, the carriers approve based on their backlog, the time of year, price point and service type. You can read more about Short Code Coverage, SMS Billing Services and Mobile Payments in South Africa via the txtNation Gateway.


South Africa has the following Mobile Payment options available, all of which fall under these regulations:

  • Premium SMS (P-SMS) including Short Code services
  • Operator Billing (Direct-to-bill)
  • WAP Billing
  • MSISDN Pass-through

Additional options for Mobile Payments and Messaging in South Africa include:

  • HLR Lookup
  • Bulk SMS

 Note: This page is updated as frequently as possible when we are informed from the regulators or mobile operators in South Africa of a change or update in regulations. There may be a latest version of Premium SMS, Mobile Payments or Short Code Regulations in South Africa. Please contact your account manager for more information.

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