It’s not news to say that the ground-breaking smartphone has unearthed a minefield of applications. And as with most inventions, some are relevant, and some…some are just a waste of space, energy and resource. One thing you can rely on though is fellow Africans to show the world how technology can really change the world for the better. With that said, we still need a filter for these world wide web of apps.  Personally, whenever an obscure webpage sets off to make a compilation of anything to sway my already easily changeable judgment I’ve decided the best way to test out the lists’ accuracy is to go through the comments section. I have found that this helps because a majority of the time this seemingly rowdy crowd has actually used the product. With that said as I brush off a few chuckles and eyebrow rising comments these are my findings for some of the more useful apps that cater to the continental audience!

bbmandroidios1_2040_large_verge_medium_landscapeBBM for Android

Break out the champagne glasses and BIS and have one on us because BBM is available for all! With over 10 million new users on it’s first day of release it seems that my fellow iPhone and Nokia users and everyone else who’s in between were in deed experiencing a bit of what we like to call #FOMO. We have to hand it to Blackberry though, they are the best way to communicate in ‘real time’. Added benefits are BBM Voice (over WiFi), BBM Video with Screen Share (just like Skype – whoop!) and of course the connected apps that allow you to over-share.


Refugees_United3Refugee United

Their mission is to help families reconnect with missing loved ones in the case of political unrest or tragedy through a mobile search tool. This non-profit organization was founded by two Danish brothers, David and Christopher Mikkelsen, after they identified the lack of family tracing programs that utilized collaborative technology across the globe. So far, Refugee United is helping over 200 000 displaced refugees find their missing loved ones using family data  collected through WAP, USSD, SMS and the web. This start-up is dynamic, and empowers the 45 million displaced people that could easily have fallen through the cracks of society. You can register a missing person, search through their database or make a connection. What a milestone for Africa.


imagesMara Connect

With more mobile phone users than America and Europe a voice calling app that can take on thee likes of Skype for Africa is a big deal. According to Ugandan businessman, Ashish Thakkar it’s finally Africa’s turn to shine and the download numbers don’t lie.  Features include free unlimited calls to all other MaraConnect users worldwide, free social calling and texts for Android phones (no more wondering why your Facebook friends aren’t responding to your wall post) and low-cost worldwide calls. In a time where picking up the phone and making a simple voice call seems to be a daunting task this is definitely going to help us mend some bridges.


kenya-transactionM – Pesa

‘Over 15 million lives changed” – that’s a large number of people! Launched in 2007 by Safaricom in conjunction with Vodafone, M- Pesa is now used by 17 million Kenyans to transfer money to each other using their cellphones. No more carrying around bundles of cash in suitcases, fellow Africans! This is a safer alternative and it’s quicker, more convenient especially for those who want to “Send Money Home“. The mobile banking app has since extended it’s service to countries such as  Afganistan, Tanzania, India and I can attest to seeing the ads on South African screens (I also got free airtime for signing up.)



Now this app could literary save your life. Olalashe  (which means brother in Maasi) is a geo-alert application that helps you send an emergency message to your ‘In Case of Emergency’ contacts when you’re in a sticky situation. I know what you’re thinking, it’s not exactly ground breaking stuff or at least from where I’m standing, but it did win a Google app award back in 2011. The idea to develop this app came to developer, David Lemayian after hearing many victims of carjacking incidences narrate how they were helpless they had been when confronted by gun-wielding thugs. After the dreadful Westgate mall incident I figure it would be beneficial to all to download this app.



As you know there are 196 countries in the world today (unless you are one of those people that count Taiwan as a country), 55 of which belong to Africa. What apps are causing some serious waves in your part of the world?

Noluvuyo BacelaNoluvuyo Bacela is a Cape Town based creative. As a freelancer Noley, as she is known, writes about entertainment, media, trends and everything in between.  You can find Noley on Twitter chatting all things social.

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