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Most popular African mobile apps in market

In a continent which is fast developing, yet still grappling with poverty, inequality, natural disasters and unstable politics, the need for better infrastructure, more efficient health systems and access to basic necessities is a daily urgency. The good news is that with its mobile penetration of 60 per cent, organisations can bypass bureaucracy and deliver revolutionary solutions directly to the local citizens, empowering them to lift themselves into a better life. Here is list of leading African Apps in the market according to Afritorial, an Africa-focused content-aggregator

1. M-Pesa

An award-winning mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa was first launched by the Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom, an affiliate of Vodafone, in March 2007.

It quickly captured a significant market share for cash transfers, and grew astoundingly quickly, capturing 6.5 million subscribers by May 2009 with two million daily transactions in Kenya alone.

As of 2017,at least 20 million customers were registered on the service. The service has since expanded to Uganda and Tanzania and has also been launched in South Africa, Afghanistan, India and Egypt.

2. M-Pepea

This is a fully automated app set to revolutionise Kenya’s credit system by offering instant loans to workers at a fee via their mobile phones. It targets employees on full-time basis registered for the service and offers small emergency loans ranging from (Sh5,800 to Sh35,000) depending on pay-scale.

Users can access loans anytime anywhere without the necessity of having to wait for advance approvals or having to visit a financial institution to request for emergency money. Launched by Raven Ltd in 2010, a borrower sends a text through a defined number and the request is processed by the software.

3. NikoHapa

This is a social location app allowing users to discover new locations and connect up with friends. It also acts as a loyalty programme by rewarding users who visit certain locations, retailers and restaurants spend money and share these locations with their friends. 

Users scan their phone’s address book to automatically detect when friends have joined NikoHapa and connect with them seamlessly. Loyal customers are the foundation of almost every business today. Going the extra mile to provide outstanding customer service is the first step to customer loyalty which is not seen in many emerging businesses today.

Niko Hapa noticed this gap and provided a unique and innovative solution by allowing businesses to gain customer loyalty and active customer engagement quickly and cost-effectively.

3. Africa Travel Guide

The Africa Travel Guide Offline (phone or tablet) provides comprehensive information on over 1,000 destinations. What is great about it is that no Internet connection is required as all the data is stored within the app, so no matter where you are in Africa you can access it in the most remote places and avoid expensive roaming charges.

The guide allows you to explore all the major cities (hotels, bars, restaurants, nightlife, entertainment, transportation, sights), discover places off the beaten track, and learn about everything in between. You can also add your own notes to each location and keep a list of your favourite places for easy access plus explore locations on a map.

4. M-Farm

It offers real-time market prices for crops, matching Kenyan farmers with buyers. As a transparency tool for farmers, the app allows them to simply SMS the number 3535 to get information about the retail price of their products, buy their farm inputs directly from manufacturers at favourable prices, and find buyers for their produce.

The app allows remote farmers to plug into market updates and as a result, keep up with the competition. Farmers in remote areas who might want to remain ahead of their competition will find the market updates a treasure and vital.

5. Olalashe

It is evident some parts of Africa are not the safest. Today there is an app to help you when you are caught up in a spot of trouble. Olalashe, (which means “brother” in Maasai), on the Android platform, sends an SOS message to all emergency contacts on the user’s mobile, alerting them that the owner needs help.

It allows you to: Enter your In-Case of Emergency (ICE) contacts, choose these contacts from your phone book, send an SMS that you are in trouble with a link to your location to all your ICE Contacts and has a single-click widget button to be located on your home screen for quick access.

6. MedAfrica

Kenyan developers Shimba Technologies launched the MedAfrica app in 2011, that helps users diagnose symptoms and providing directories of doctors and hospitals with the aim of revolutionising how people in developing areas, particularly on the African continent, access and use health information.

Set up as a sustainable business rather than on a “social good” charity model, the MedAfrica platform brings basic information about health and medicine to all phones — not just smartphones — and enabling people to use that information on their own.

In countries such as Kenya, where on average 14 physicians must serve around 100,000 people, this kind of accessible, self-serve information could be vital in improving national health and wellness.

7. Refugees United

Refugees United is an organisation with one important mission: To reconnect refugees with their families, wherever they might be. Their app, also called Refugees United, allows users to search for lost family or friends in the non-governmental organisation (NGO)’s database.

With it you can create a profile and search for family or friends in the Refugees United database. The app is accessible to all refugees – no official papers need to be filled in, and best of all, it is free of charge.

8. MAMA

More of a programme, and less than an app, the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) works with low-income and at-risk mothers and families in countries with high populations of mobile phone users — to provide vital health information through SMS text messaging and simple voice messages.

MAMA provides pregnant mothers and new mothers with targeted health information and care tips using SMS and voice calls. The system allows expectant women to register with their due date for free or affordable information on antenatal care and delivery services timed to their precise stage of pregnancy. The expectant mothers are also advised on birth plans and childcare, including breastfeeding.

9. Ushahidi

Ushahidi Inc. is a non-profit technology company whose mission is to help marginalised people raise their voice and those who serve them to listen and respond better.

It has been instrumental in creating the unique Kenyan tech ecosystem. The organisation uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability, serving as an initial model for what has been coined as “activist mapping”—the combination of social activism, citizen journalism and geospatial information.

Ushahidi offers products that enable local observers to submit reports using their mobile phones or the internet, while simultaneously creating a temporal and geospatial archive of events. The Ushahidi platform is often used for crisis response, human rights reporting, and election monitoring.

10. TomTom App

If you are planning a self-drive safari or want to rent a car while you are away, the TomTom navigation app is a great purchase. It offers detailed road maps, with up-to-date information about points of interest, traffic and speed limits. The latter is especially useful, because being pulled over by the police is often an expensive event in Africa.

Best of all, the maps work offline (handy if you are exploring an area in the middle of nowhere). TomTom’s options include South Africa, Southern Africa, East Africa and West Africa. It is considerably an easy application to navigate since it has local directions with ease through mapping.

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