RapidPro Messaging Gateway in Interactive Two-way Texting


I have read about using Rapidpro as a messaging gateway, and wanted to find out more regarding the setup in the following context:

  • We do not have a SMS aggregator to work with, and are considering using the CHT gateway for messaging.
  • There is an existing shortcode and one MNO, Airtel, is willing to offer zero-rated SMS to support the initiative.
  • We have 8 workflows, each with an average of about 6 outgoing and incoming texts already configured in Rapidpro.
  • Rapidpro triggers the flows daily at 4pm and skip logic is applied based on the attributes of a contact sourced from the CHT.
  • There are about 60 active contacts with the number intended to grow to ~1500, using two network providers (Airtel and Orange).

While this would be a no-brainer if we had a SMS aggregator, we have to think otherwise.

  1. Would using Rapidpro as a messaging gateway in such a setting be even feasible?
  2. What are the options?
  3. Are there significant changes to the flows configuration required to support such interactive messaging, if an option?
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Hi @kitsao, can you explain how the existing shortcode would work? I don’t remember ever coming across a shortcode that wasn’t accessible through API and SMS aggregator. Would they give you a SIM card for that number?

I don’t think cht-gateway would work with RapidPro. The cht-gateway calls specific APIs in cht-core and hasn’t been configured to work with RapidPro directly. It may be possible to reconfigure your configuration to generate messages in cht-core then you could drop RapidPro altogether, but this will be a significant effort given where you are now.

The other option is to use the RapidPro Android Channel which is their equivalent of the cht-gateway designed to work directly with RapidPro. I don’t know much about the actual app so I can’t confirm whether it’ll work for you or not, but it’s something to look in to.

Hi @marc, the MNO would make the shortcode work directly on their network, and I am yet to know how they would do so (but there was indication that they had done a similar set up before with Unicef).

@gareth indeed it would require huge effort. Rapidpro Android Channel was already unstable during the pilot phase that had 60 participants and would make it worse scaling up to 1500 participants, in addition to the 330 messages/hour limit.

We already communicated the recommendation of a SMS aggregator and how pursuable alternatives would look like.