Mara Group Takes On Whatsapp With A New African Messenger

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

Whatsapp, a popular instant messaging application in Africa, could face stiff rivalry from a new mobile messaging party called ‘Mara Messenger‘ created by the Mara Group, a Pan-African conglomerate founded by Ugandan businessman Ashish Thakkar, Forbes.com reported.

The Mara Group, which has already made aggressive investments in Africa’s financial sector through its subsidiary Atlas Mara — a venture between Thakkar and Robert Diamond a former Barclays Chief Executive, is late to the mobile messaging space in Africa, but plan to use its financial muscles to claw a leading niche in the market.

Other Apps that the new African messenger seek to compete with include Viber, WeChat, Mxit, 2go and Ghana-focused Saya mobile (which was acquired by voice messaging and social media apps vendor Kirusa in August)

During the Mara Messenger launch on November 8 in Dubai, Thakkar said the firms plan was to unseat Whatsapp as the dominant messenger App in Africa and it targeted Africans across the world.

“The launch of Mara Messenger marks the dawn of a new era in Africa. For the first time, we will have a truly home-grown messaging platform that is tailored to the individual cultures of the continent. Our plan is to roll out Mara Messenger in multiple languages, across multiple devices, making it accessible to anyone and everyone across Africa and the world through the touch of a button,” Thakkar said during a brief interview session with Forbes.com.

Thakkar said Mara Messenger App has been tailored to meet the needs of African consumers, and will be a more localized mobile messaging application that allows people to connect with their friends, families, and colleagues around the world.

He said the new App will introduce a number of never-before-seen features to the messaging App to earn a competitive advantage and enhance user experience.

The App is already available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry and includes features that will allow users to instant message, share locations, doodle on images and broadcast information to groups, and will shortly include voice memos and video features.