MTNs Chenosis platform seeks to solve Africa’s API problem

Earlier this month, MTN announced the launch of Chenosis. This is an independent API marketplace built to enable developers and businesses across Africa. It will aggregate open APIs making it easy for developers and interested parties discover and make use of these APIs.


For the uninitiated, we will need to explain what an API actually is. Think of an API as a waiter. Waiter x takes your order > takes it to the kitchen > It’s prepared > Waiter x brings it back to you. You don’t need to know the ingredients or what goes on in the kitchen. You simply request a meal and get one.

Similarly, an API is a computing interface which defines interactions between multiple software intermediaries. It defines the kinds of requests to be made, how to make them, data formats used, and conventions to follow.


…Back to Chenosis

At the launch, MTN announced Chenosis marketplace will cater to many industries including health, telecoms, Fintech, eCommerce, authentication, payments etc.

Chenosis has promised more APIs in the near future:

We have exciting pan-African and international partnerships lined up to publish and monetise their APIs in the marketplace over the coming months. These partnerships will enable Chenosis to become the largest and most diverse developer ecosystem on the African continent.

These partnerships will enable Chenosis to become the largest and most diverse developer ecosystem on the African continent. This is one of the ways in which MTN is investing in the emergence of an open African API ecosystem that is powered by African ingenuity and innovation.

Charles Molapisi – MTN Group Chief Technology and Information Officer

MTN says the API marketplace will provide tools for creators to monetise and promote their APIs by creating subscription plans and product bundles that developers/businesses can purchase. There will be dashboards for publishers and consumers to track revenue and credit balances, view consumption analytics, and API performance.

MTN involvement

The fact that MTN is the mastermind behind this marketplace meant there would be push-back regarding how involved they would be. MTN anticipated this and explained that Chenosis is a separate entity and will have an arms-length relationship with MTN. It will remain open to all MNOs, fintech start-ups, payment service providers, mobile wallet operators and financial service providers. Hopefully, this turns out to be the case.

Why is Chenosis a big deal?

For businesses and developers looking to create solutions, access to APIs has proven to be extremely difficult. In Zimbabwe getting your business to be integrated with any of the MNOs is an extremely painstaking process. If these telcos were to make APIs easily accessible ( e.g placing their APIs on Chenosis ) we would see more products built to utilise USSD or mobile money.

Chenosis definitely seeks to solve a real problem. Can MTN make Chenosis the go-to marketplace for APIs in Africa? Telcos on the continent have tried their hand at many different projects (super apps, media etc) and they haven’t been successful. Hopefully, that’s not the case with Chenosis.

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