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Mali Lunches It's Own Homegrown Version Of Facebook

  In 2017, it was reported that Facebook had 170 million users from Africa alone, meaning that seven out of every 10 Africans using the internet log into Facebook.

Other social media platforms like WhatsApp, Viber and Instagram have become important tools of communicating and sharing information concerning news, elections and, of course, selfies.

Africa is a fast growing market in terms of the internet. Social media companies know this, and are putting plans in place. For example, Facebook is set to launch its first community hub in Nigeria this year.

However, social platforms like Facebook focus mainly on written posts and conversation, as well as videos. So for those in the continent with little formal education, communicating on these platforms can be difficult because they rely on oral-based, spoken language.

For example Mali has one of the lowest literacy rates in Africa at below 50%.

Bamako, the capital and Mali's largest city.

Considering this, Mamadou Gouro a Malian entrepreneur, aged 44,  is trying to fill this social media void in Mali by creating Lenali app, which is an oral-based platform.


"Lenali is the first social network in the world that uses local languages and vocal abilities. The reason for the app is that in Mali, for instance, only 20% are accessing these social networks," Gouro says.

Lenali was lunched last year, and Gouro says that it now has 27,000 users.

A little bit different from other established apps like Viber, which allow users to communicate by recording voice, Lenali's users are able to build a profile using audio.


Gouro believes the app can be used across the continent, though most of it's users are from Mali.

"Because the problems in Mali are the same in the majority of countries in Africa, the app could work anywhere, and in the future we can add many languages. Orality is a culture," Gouro says when interviewed by CNN.

The biggest challenge has been funding the project, says Gouro, who has accomplished the project himself, with the help of his family. However, he believes that a lot of people who cannot read or write are excluded from using social media platforms.