10 Popular Instant Messaging Apps That Connect Users In Africa

By Peter Pedroncelli AFKI Original Published: September 21, 2017, 5:50 am
Instant messaging apps have become very popular in Africa.Instant messaging apps have become very popular in Africa. Photo: Thinkstock

Instant messaging apps have become indispensable for most modern smartphone users, and Africa is no different, with a number of popular mobile applications being used around the continent.

Engaging with friends and family has never been easier, with mobile phones equipped to facilitate messaging via these apps, making communication affordable and more accessible than ever before.

From Facebook messenger to WhatsApp and everything in between, a list of messaging apps have become popular with African users.

Here are 10 popular instant messaging apps in Africa.

Sources: GlobalWebIndex, GSMA, Hootsuite, ITWeb, AndroidCommunity, DigitalVision.

BBM is still used by those with Blackberry phones. Youtube.com, FuriousTechnology/Blackberry

BBM

This one will surprise some, but Blackberry Messenger is still used by millions on the continent. Whether they use the messaging app because they are nostalgic or simply because they have a Blackberry and enjoy the features of the app, BBM lives on in Africa.

Instant messaging apps have become very popular in Africa.

Instant messaging apps have become very popular in Africa. Photo: Thinkstock

SnapChat

Snapchat is another popular app that allows users to send photos and videos to each other, which can be viewed for a limited time only before they disappear. This concept has found a home in parts of Africa, though high data usage, and therefore cost, have hindered its accessibility.

Google Hangouts is often loaded onto new android phones. Photo - TheVerge

Google Hangouts is often loaded onto new android phones. Photo – TheVerge

Google Hangouts

While certainly not as popular as some of the other instant messaging options on this list, Google Hangouts attracts usage from many Africans, if for no other reason than the fact that it is often pre-loaded on android smartphones.

LINE is not as popular in Africa as it is in other parts of the world. Photo - YouthVillage

LINE is not as popular in Africa as it is in other parts of the world. Photo – YouthVillage

LINE

While LINE has at one time or another been the most downloaded app in 52 countries, the Japanese app has not experienced the same stunning growth in Africa. The app has still attracted some users across Africa, but they are not serious rivals to the likes of WhatsApp on the continent.

Viber founder and CEO Talmon Marco may be surprised at the apps popularity in Libya. Photo: Reuters/themarker.com

Viber

While Viber is popular in Eastern Europe, with the likes of Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine choosing Viber over apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Viber is also popular in Libya and a handful of other North African countries.

Jongla is an instant messaging app that is light on data. Photo - Appsafrica

Jongla is an instant messaging app that is light on data. Photo – Appsafrica

Jongla

Finnish startup Jongla released a data-light instant messaging app in 2016 that saves money and data, assisting them in their aim to challenge other messaging apps operating in the African market. The official launch in Africa led to a huge growth in the continent’s Jongla usage, with Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya all becoming Jongla’s top countries in terms of app usage.

Skype is used for instant messaging and video calling. Photo: Skype.com

Skype

Skype is also present in Africa, and the voice-centric app is popular in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. Skype has not achieved the scale of WhatsApp, however, and is mostly used within smaller market segments or for specific uses, such as international calling.

WeChat is owned by Tencent. Photo: essentialbusinessmag.com

WeChat

WeChat, China’s biggest internet-based mobile messaging platform, is owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent and its 34 percent shareholder South African e-commerce and media group Naspers. The app has gained in popularity in Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana, having focused attention on those markets.

The Messenger app from Facebook is installed on many phones in Africa. Photo: techmagzine.com

Facebook Messenger

Facebook’s Messenger app is the second most popular messaging app on the planet, and in Africa too. The standalone app uses Facebook to chat with friends, and has grown on the back of the social media explosion.

WhatsApp is popular among African users – o1visa.us

WhatsApp

Facebook dominates the instant messaging market in Africa, as the most popular app for instant messaging remains WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook. The cross-platform app for smart phones and selected feature phones is used across the continent. In research conducted by Digital Vision last year, WhatsApp was considered the most popular messaging app in 109 countries, most of which were in Africa.

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