Design

7 of Our Favorite African-Designed Smartphone Apps

We've covered a lot of African tech over the years. Here are seven of our favorite African-designed apps for you to check out.

We've been covering African and diaspora tech for years at OkayAfrica and it only seems to get more exciting every year. Young African developers both on and off the continent continue to adapt to the times, designing and building new apps, online businesses and unique pieces of hardware for a wide range of uniquely African experiences.


For Silicon Africa month, we've taken a look back at seven tech stories that have brought us here. Here are some of our favorites:

Tress

Tress, is a mobile app that helps black women around the world find hair inspiration, and high quality stylists and products. It was founded by three female software entrepreneurs from Ghana and Nigeria—Priscilla Hazel, Esther Olatunde and Cassandra Sarfo.

There's A New App Changing The Natural Hair Industry For African Women

Tress app

Yorubaname.com

Tired of western-centric tech tools? The folks over at Yorubaname.com are doing their part to fix the relentlessly anglo nature of the app world with a Yoruba text-to-speech app that will be the genesis for a Siri-like application that will service millions of Yoruba-speaking people in Nigeria and elsewhere—ultimately a way to ensure the language's survial in the computer age. Read this interview with Kola Tubosun to find out more about the initiative:

A Yoruba Text-to-Speech App Is Being Brought to Life Through This New Tech Initiative

Image via Kola Tubosun's Twitter.

OjaExpress

For underserved immigrant populations, finding the right combination of ingredients to cook their native dishes can be time-consuming—spread over multiple stores and neighborhoods. Boyede Sobitan and Fola Dada want their app OjaExpress to make the shopping experience easier by allowing users to shop for their native foods through their cellphones and delivered to their door.

Read our interview with the founders here:

OjaExpress Is a New App Bringing the Afro-Carib Grocery Store Right to Your Door

Cross Dakar City

This addictive smartphone game is meant bring attention to the 15,000 child beggars—talibés—who roam the streets of Dakar dodging dangerous traffic and other hazards as they raise money for their marabouts or religious leaders. Created by Senegalese developer Ousseynou Khadim Beye—read more about Beye's path from Dakar school-kid to a software developer in France in our feature story here:

Inside Senegal's Most Addictive New Video Game

AfroEmoji

The world communicates through emojis, digital stickers inserted into texts and chats. Africans deserve these visual symbols to reflect their own reality. This is the view of AfroEmoji boss Ayoola Daramola who has created pan-African emojis for you to use in your smartphone conversations.

“Mobile is king in Africa/Globally—it is the tool for communication and media consumption, so we expect the Afro Emoji to become a key component in how Africans message and chat, in much the same way as emoji Stickers have become so popular in the East & West."

Read our interview with him here:

You Need To Check Out This #AfroEmoji App's 'African-Themed' Stickers

Look Up

Ekene Ijeoma has created an app for the walking internet browser—those of you fiddling on your phone as you walk down the busy sidewalk. Look Up uses GPS to detect when you're near an intersection and give you an alert—vibrations and an eyeball animation to tell you to look up before crossing the street. But more than just a useful safety app, Ijeoma has suffused it with an artistic purpose.

Read what he has to say here:

This Public Art App Wants City Dwellers to Quit Gazing at Their Phone Screens and Look Up

Teemoji

As if to bring it full circle, since the overwhelming popularity of reality star Kim Kardashian's emoji app it only makes sense that Nollywood actress Toyin Aimakhu would do the same. Teemoji allows users to express themselves using custom Toyin Aimakhu inspired images and Yoruba sayings. Check out more here:

Toyin Aimakhu Announces Yoruba-Themed 'Teemoji' App

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

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