FrontlineSMS let users send, receive and manage SMS over a mobile network.

I am working on a media project in Nairobi using FrontlineSMS with independent journalists.

We would like to reimburse them for the money they spend to send us SMS, but I am not sure that it is something that is possible with FrontlineSMS. I know there is FronlineSMS:Credit, but I understood it is not ready yet. Any suggestion?


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Traditionally, you may need to talk to the telco who those users belong to and get the above thing done. But practical and simply solution is to give them a SIM Card for SMS purpose.
Hey, Anahi.

I know that in some countries it's possible to transfer credit to a phone using a specially formatted code. For example, in Botswana (on MASCOM) it starts w/a "*" followed by a 3-digit code (e.g. "319"), plus the number of the person you're transmitting airtime to, the value of airtime (e.g. "25") then a "#" - or something like that!

Anyway, the point is that you can setup FLSMS to send this code out to a phone in response to a special keyword. This is what Josh & co. did in Malawi. If I'm not wrong, this is how they made it work:

0. Make sure the SIM attached to FLSMS has plenty of airtime!
1. Assign each journalist/phone (e.g. "1234567") a number/code (e.g. "001").
2. Create a keyword to credit each phone based on the code (e.g. "CREDIT-001")
3. Set up an auto-reply for the keyword that generates the airtime top-up message (e.g. "*319123456725#")
4. Have your journalists send in their keyword (e.g. "CREDIT-001") when they need a top-up.

So, I just wrote this up w/o ever having done it myself & w/o even looking @ FLSMS :P But I think that should be pretty close. Josh, if you're listening in, how did I do?!
Thanks James,
actually Josh replied to me and gave me some good tips on how to do it. But I also guess that your system can work. I will try both and let you know! :)

Here is Josh's e-mail:

One common system is to have CHWs request units as they're needed,
e.g. "UNITS" or "[ID#] UNITS" which triggers delivery of 100 units to
that user's phone. FLSMS then keeps a record of unit requests and
messages received. We explain to users that those should match up, and
we very rarely see cases of abuse.

Second, you could work with the telco to create closed calling/texting
groups, with all costs paid by one purchaser.

The FrontlineSMS:Credit team is automating top-up and payment
mechanisms, e.g. if a user texts once (or ten times), that user is
subsequently topped up with units to cover their texting. That plugin
isn't quite finished.

Thanks again to you and to Josh!
Hi Anahi - how is this initiative going? I am around Nairobi and interested in similar applications. I work with community radio.

can you tell us more of what you are doing?

Hey Bart,
I am not in Nairobi anymore.

I have the contacts of who is running it, please write to me privately and I will give you all the contacts:


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