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Chatbot in South Africa (RSA): Top 9 Vendors in 2024

Cem Dilmegani
Updated on Feb 5
5 min read
Chatbot in South Africa (RSA): Top 9 Vendors in 2024Chatbot in South Africa (RSA): Top 9 Vendors in 2024

Customers prefer interactive communication and value immediate responses. 61% of customers would switch to a company’s competitor after just one “bad” customer experience, like a delayed response.1 

If you are a South African business, you’re in a region with a high2 percentage of messaging app usage, and high interest in chatbots3 So, you should take advantage of your audience’s comfortability with conversational AI tools. 

This article explores the top 9 chatbot vendors that cater to the South African market.

Top 9 vendors of chatbot in South Africa

VendorSize# of B2B Reviews# Of EmployeesWhatsapp & Facebook IntegrationClick-to-Chat Ads
IBM watsonx AssistantGlobal451+300K
Microsoft Azure Bot ServiceGlobal93+280K
HaptikRegional167201-500
FCB.aiRegional11-50
ProtoRegional11-50
BotlhaleLocal2-10
GotbotLocal11-50
BotsZALocal11-50
Hi.guruLocal211-50

Table features:

Our table is in descending order of employee count.

The list includes 3 types of chatbot companies: 

  • Global conversational artificial intelligence providers with offices in South Africa 
  • Regional conversational AI tech providers that provide services to South Africa
  • Local conversational AI agencies/chatbot providers

We narrowed the shortlist by vendors’:

  • # of reviews on review aggregator websites like G2, Capterra, TrustRadius, etc. 
  • # of employees on LinkedIn
  • Integration with popular messaging apps, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger
  • Support of click-to-chat ads that directs user to a chatbot when they click on social media ads

Global conversational AI/chatbot providers

1. IBM Watson Assistant

IBM Watson Assistant is one of the biggest global chatbot vendors.

Pros

  • Ease of setup: The no-code development platform, and pre-built configurations, lets citizen developers easily build bots and deploy them.4
  • Cognition: Besides executing rule-based tasks, ML algorithms enable IBM Watson to learn from data to improve its performances.5
  • Integrability: Deployable on various messaging channels and devices to provide a consistent omnichannel customer experience with text and voice.6

Cons

  • Expensive: IBM Watson Assistant’s price can deter SMEs with limited budgets.7
  • Data heavy: Especially for more cognitive applications, it needs large amounts of data, posing its own collecting challenges.8
  • Lack of analytics: The Analytics features only offer a primitive visibility into the performance of the bot.9

2. Microsoft Azure Bot Service

Azure AI Bot Service is another popular platform, similar to IBM Watson Assistant, in terms of its low-code development and cognitive features.

Pros

  • Integration with Microsoft Suite: Easy integration with MS applications like Skype, Outlook, and Microsoft teams, in addition to other popular platforms.10
  • Flexible pricing: Usage-based pricing lets users pay only for what/how much they use the chatbot and its different features.11

Cons

  • Little documentation: Developer documentation, and community support for DIY troubleshooting, is limited.12
  • Difficult customization: Customization can be limited and difficult, especially if users aren’t familiar with the platform’s SDK13

Regional conversational AI/chatbot providers

3. FCB.ai

FCB.ai’s chatbot can integrate with 21 third-party applications for enhanced versatility in insurance and financial institutions. For example, it can integrate with a cryptographic tool for document and signature authentication during the KYC process.

We can’t provide user-based pros and cons of FCB.ai because we were unable to find any reviews on tech review websites.

4. Proto

Proto operates in Africa and Southeast Asia, offering standard features like:

  • Agent takeover
  • Including media, buttons, links, and surveys into the conversation
  • Automated ticketing

We cannot provide user-based pros and cons of Proto because they don’t have reviews.

Local conversational AI/chatbot providers

5. Botlhale AI

Botlhale AI is a voice-enabled, no-code chatbot that, besides English, supports 8 African languages of:

  • IsiZulu
  • IsiXhosa
  • Xitsonga
  • Sepedi
  • siSwati
  • Tshivenda
  • Sesotho
  • Setswana

Botlhale AI has been used by companies in telecommunication, banking, and finance sectors.  

We can’t provide user-based pros and cons of Botlhale AI because they don’t have any reviews.

6. Gotbot

Gotbot offers insurance, finance, and retail chatbots by re-configuring the SDK to fit these industries’ specific use cases. For instance, their “upselling and cross-selling” feature can be tweaked to suggest insurance packages, financial instruments, or consumer products.

We cannot provide user-based pros and cons of Gotbot because they don’t yet have reviews.

7. BotsZA

BotsZA develops chatbots for WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Telegram, and any other API-friendly platform.

8. Hi.guru

Hi.guru’s is similar to BotsZA and Gotbot in capability. Its distinctive feature is its 3rd-party support for bots built on IBM Watson and SAP Conversational AI, where you can incorporate them into the Hi.guru platform.

We cannot provide user-based pros and cons of Hi.guru because not enough users have reviewed it yet.

Case studies of chatbot implementation in South Africa

2. Digify Africa 

Digify Africa, an EdTech company, used WhatsApp to teach digital literacy to 18-35 year old students and job seekers.14

The chatbot delivered snackable micro-lessons, interactive quizzes, push notifications, and a gamified tracking system for self-paced learning and engagement. The chatbot handled the:

  • Registration of 14.3K students
  • Sending of 3.4M messages
  • Completion of delivering 37.3K individual topics
Image Source: Digify Africa

3. Momentum Metropolitan Life

During the pandemic, Momentum Metropolitan Life, a South African insurance firm, faced a substantial backlog of unresolved claims and high call volumes.15

In 4 months, they developed a WhatsApp bot that was able to:

  • Connect to +10,000 users across different channels 
  • Handle 1.8M conversations in a year, with +95% accuracy
  • Provide +40,000 tax certificates and insurance policy statements on WhatsApp 

FAQ

What are chatbots?

Chatbots are software applications designed to simulate human conversation. They interact with users via text or voice, and are often employed for tasks like customer service, information retrieval, or simple transactions. Chatbots can be rule-based, responding to specific prompts with pre-defined answers, or powered by artificial intelligence, where they use machine learning algorithms to understand and respond to a broader range of user inputs.

What are the types of chatbots?

Chatbots can be rule-based, responding to specific prompts with pre-defined answers, or powered by AI technologies, such as ML models and generative AI to understand and respond to a broader range of user inputs.

What are the use cases of business chatbots in South Africa?

Upon studying the local and regional vendors, the most popular application areas of chatbots in South Africa are:
– Banking & finance
– Insurance
– E-commerce
– Hospitality
– Education

What are the business benefits of chatbots?

– Faster internal processes
– Cost savings
– Increased sales
– 24/7 availability
– Scalability
– Consistency in answers
– Multilingualism
– Personalization

Further reading

Find the Right Vendors

External sources

Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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