In January, Alhassan Hafiz Bakarr-Kanu from Sierra Leone made the trial version of Supfrica public and in just three days, it was downloaded more than 100,000 times on Google Play.
An invention for Africans created by an African. This is Supfrica, an application similar to WhatsApp that focuses on the needs of users on the continent and the diaspora and claims products “made in Africa.”
In early January, Alhassan Hafiz Bakarr-Kanu from Sierra Leone released the trial version of Supfrica.
In record time, three days, this application was downloaded more than 100,000 times on Google Play, the digital distribution platform for mobile applications for devices with the Android operating system, even though it was not yet the actual launch.
“Africans and the African diaspora are looking for something that represents them, something of their own and created by them,” explained the creator of Supfrica.
Self-taught website designer and application developer, Hafiz, 43, studied business at Mount Ida College, Massachusetts, USA.
Later he founded Techfrica, a technology company based in the North American country and Sierra Leone, with which he has developed other applications, always designed for the African market.
After concluding that the other free messaging applications that use the internet connection to make calls and video calls, but also send photos and videos, are not made for the African market, Hafiz decided in 2017 to start developing this application, whose name means “ Hello Africa ”- using the colloquial expression of English“ Sup ”-.
“Most of the platforms are not intended for the African market, so people struggle to create black and African-owned businesses,” says Hafiz.
“You can ask the founders when they create these apps if they have Africans or the African diaspora especially in mind and they will honestly say no. It is not set in stone, but it is known ”, he adds.
Designed for grandmothers in rural areas
Despite the exponential growth of African cities, the continent’s population remains largely rural. More than 59% of Africans still live in the countryside, according to 2019 World Bank data.
In these areas, it is not strange to see a next-generation smartphone in a region in which 50% of the population made their connections with one of them in 2020 -and it is expected to reach 65% in 2025-, according to the latest annual report for sub-Saharan Africa from the mobile operator organization GSMA.
However, many times the network does not exceed 2G (second generation of mobile phone network, which is now obsolete), limiting the reception of messages, but also photos and videos, and makes calls and video calls impossible through this type of messaging applications so widely used.
One of Hafiz’s greatest aspirations with Supfrica is “to ensure that grandmothers in rural areas with a 2G network can make and receive calls” through an application like this one, which uses the Internet connection and makes it less expensive to communicate with family members and friends both inside and outside the country.
Among the other aspirations of its creator, it also seeks that the information of the users is safe, protected and private, that the qualities of the calls, both audio and video, “are incredible” and have the ability to continuously update to that works well.
This application also shows the community aspect, so relevant to African societies, with the possibility of creating groups of more than 500,000 people, unlike the 256 that WhatsApp allows or the 200,000 of Telegram.
This characteristic is important “because we believe in unity, a community environment is the best scenario,” says Hafiz.