Mobile applications are slowly transforming African society. Over the past few years, more and more Africans are turning to their mobile phones for services. These stretch from banking services to agricultural advice and, now, dating.
With 20% of Africa’s 1.1 billion-strong population now online, and 70% of internet users using mobile phones, the impact of applications is set to reverberate across social, political and economic spaces. The uptake of apps across the continent has been surprisingly high, in Kenya 99% of internet access is from a mobile device, 61% of views on BBC’s mobile site are from Nigeria and in South Africa 84% of mobile users have downloaded a mobile app.
According to MobiThinking Africa, the top mobile activities for mobile-only users are related to apps: downloading games (55%), downloading music (54%) and social networking (52%).
Some of the most popular traditional apps addressed the locally relevant “needs” of African society. Kenya’s money-transfer application, M-Pesa, revolutionised day-to-day banking for millions in rural areas who do not have access to traditional banks. KUZA Doctor is an app which gave huge support to farmers with critical knowledge to increase their rates of production while learning the value of conservation farming. A gap in the lack of healthcare provision brought about M-health, an app that provides information about health in general and can even connect patients to qualified doctors. Today, the “needs” have expanded to romance.
As needs change and the handsets adopted become more sophisticated (currently 80% of handsets in Africa are basic) we can expect these dating apps to become more and more popular. In a search through the top 100 downloaded apps in Africa, using information gathered from App Annie, a site that aggregates IOS top apps along with other IT market data, and “World Hot Apps”, which aggregates the app rankings of all app stores, we have come up with a “Top Ten List” of Africa’s most popular dating apps.
Hidden amongst car racing apps, sex position apps, Bible and Qur’an apps, apps that hide folders and pimp your screen apps were the dating apps. Almost half of all African countries have a dating app in their top 100 list and, surprisingly, the most popular dating app on the continent was Grindr, an app specifically designed for homosexual or bisexual men. It was clear that in the traditionally conservative African societies that dating apps were the way around the usual barriers of engagement.
Here are the top ten dating apps we found on the continent, listing the countries where they were particularly popular:
Countries: Algeria, Nigeria, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, South Africa
Calling itself the number one dating app, Zoosk allows singles to chat with other local singles. A special feature is the “Behavioral Matchmaking™” engine which will set a user up with their “perfect match”. This dating platform is used by over 25 million people worldwide.
Countries: Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Tunisia
An app specifically designed for homosexual or bisexual men, Grindr is a social network that allows gay, same sex, bisexual men to chat and meet each other. With more than seven million guys in 192 countries, the app claims that “there are always more than 300,000 guys online at any moment!”
Countries: South Africa, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco
A very straightforward app, Tinder allows users to connect with people in a certain vicinity of the user. Users can swipe right to like or left to pass and if someone likes them back, it’s a match. They can then have the option of chatting with a match or snap a photo to share a moment with all of their matches at once.
Countries: Swaziland, Mali
This app provides a network for finding, chatting and dating, with over 12 million members worldwide. Lovoo has live radar that allows users to connect with people nearby.
Countries: Ghana, Sierra Leone
One of the world’s fastest growing dating apps, SpeedDate has 13m users worldwide. The site offers singles the ability to have real dates in real time and start chatting immediately.
BeNaughty (BN) Dating
BN is one of Nigeria’s highest grossing apps. This application allows users to meet, flirt and date other singles. Special features include; the most beautiful singles – users can vote for the ones they like, participate, and join the Top 100 members. Allowing everyone to “see how awesome you are!”
This app’s claims to help new users find love by chat, meeting and dating new friends. The unique feature being that users can find potential ‘mates’ on a map and meet and date new people nearby.
Countries: Sierra Leone
A flirt, meet, chat app, Tagged has over 300m people on it and is said to the leading social network for meeting new people. It allows users to meet in social games and check out the potential.
Instant messaging and searching for singles within a close proximity has made instadate a hit in Liberia
AYI – Are You Interested?
AYI is a very simple dating mobile dating Facebook app specifically made for grown-up singles. The app is fully integrated with Facebook, allowing users to browse and upload photos, see who likes them, and see who messaged them.