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Lenali App: How Mali’s Own Version of Facebook is Changing the Face of Social Media

Social media has become a huge platform for communication and networking but in Africa, many are still not able to access it because they cannot read or write.

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram mainly focus on text, making it difficult for people with little or no formal education to make an input.

In Mali, the situation is not different. It is one of the African countries with the lowest literacy rates, below 50 percent.

Lenali uses local languages and vocal abilities — Journal du Mali

To bridge this gap, Malian entrepreneur, Mamadou Gouro has created the Lenali app, an oral-based platform.

In an interview with news site CNN, the 44-year-old said 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 percent are accessing these social networks,” he said.

Lenali uses local languages and vocal abilities

There are already existing apps like Viber that allows people to communicate by recording voice. But what sets Lenali apart is the fact that users can build a profile using audio.

Introduced last year, the app now has 27,000 users, mainly from Mali and part of the diaspora, Gouro said.

He is, however, optimistic that the app will reach millions of people across the continent in the near future.

Mamadou Gouro — JSTM

“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,” he added.

For now, the main challenge of Lenali is funding, after Gouru managed to bring the app on his own and with the assistance from family.

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