Made For Africa: SA Innovators Create Social Media App That Doesn’t Need Data

By Kevin Mwanza Published: July 29, 2016, 4:31 am
TetaLisa Phendla and Themba Moyo (Image: timeslive.co.za)

Teta Mobile Chat, an instant messaging and social media app that allows users to chat with one another, exchange photos and videos without any data or airtime is likely to become a big rival in Africa to WhatsApp, the world’s most popular social media app.

Like many other messaging apps, Teta allows its users to chat, send and receive files without incurring any form of mobile data charges so long as they are accessing the service through a participating network provider, Hit Teknology reported.

The mobile app is currently available to smartphone users on Vodacom in South Africa.

It is built on a Vodacom-developed platform that is currently being used by Absa Bank to allow customer to access banking services even when they don’t have airtime on a data plan on their mobile phones.

Teta was invented by Lisa Phendla and Themba Moyo.

The ability to communicate without data or airtime will greatly help people across the continent where the cost of communication is a major drawback, the inventors told Tech Central.

“Right now, [electronic] communication is a privilege,” Phendla said. “This is our attempt to solve an African problem, which is the cost of communication.”

Moyo said once Teta has established a user base in South Africa, the continent most industrialized nation, it will use advertising revenue to expand to other countries in the region by targeting regional telecom operators like the MTN Group.

The app is currently available for download in Google’s Play Store and will be on Apple’s App Store in 2017.

Currently, U.S.-based Whatsapp is used far more widely across Africa than any other instant messaging app, but other global competitors like WeChat — China’s biggest internet -based mobile messaging platform —  now want a piece of the market.

New entrants to the African market like Teta and WeChat are trying to lure users with add-on services.

WeChat offers an array of services that include money transfers, prepaid electricity and airtime purchases and it has a lot of experience selling these to lower income users in China.

Government on the continent are however getting wary with the increase in social media and encrypted instant-messaging apps by their citizen and are quickly moving to clamp down on their access, AFKInsider reported.

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