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

Music
(Youtube)

9 Must-Hear Songs From Ghana's Buzzing Drill Scene

We give you the rundown on Ghana's drill movement, Asakaa, and the most popular songs birthed by it.

Red bandanas, streetwear, security dogs, and gang signs. If you've been paying any attention to the music scene in Ghana over the past few months, then by now you would have noticed the rise of a special hip-hop movement. The movement is called Asakaa, and it's the Ghanaian take on the Chicago-born subgenre of hip-hop called drill music. It's fresh, it's hot, it's invigorating and it's nothing like anything you've seen before from this part of the world.

The pioneers of Asakaa are fondly referred to by the genre's patrons as the Kumerica boys, a set of budding young rappers based in the city of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. They came into the limelight towards the end of 2020, and have been dropping banger after banger since then, topping several charts and racking up millions of views collectively. The rap is charismatic, the visuals are captivating, and their swag is urban. Characterized by Twi lyrics, infectious hooks, and sinister beats, the allure and appeal of both their art and their culture is overflowing.

"Sore," one of the benchmark songs of the movement, is a monster hit that exploded into the limelight, earning Kumerican rapper Yaw Tog a feature on Billboard Italy and a recent remix that featured Stormzy. "Ekorso" by Kofi Jamar is the song that took over Ghana's December 2020, with the video currently sitting at 1.3 million views on YouTube. "Off White Flow" is the song that earned rapper Kwaku DMC and his peers a feature on Virgil Abloh's Apple Music show Televised Radio. These are just a few examples of the numerous accolades that the songs birthed from the Asakaa movement have earned. Ghana's drill scene is the new cool, but it isn't just a trend. It's an entire movement, and it's here to stay.

Want to get familiar? Here we highlight the most prominent songs of the Asakaa movement that you need to know. Here's our rundown of Ghana's drill songs that are making waves right now. Check them out below.

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