As Twitter Rebrands to X, WhatsApp Usage Surges Among African Start-ups

Because there’s WhatsApp, and then there’s WhatsApp Business

Earlier this week, Elon Musk rebranded Twitter as X. He has scrapped the famous Twitter name, logo and iconic blue bird, and the lingo entrenched in users’ minds for over a decade. No more Tweets. Just X’s. The new Everything app has many possibilities in months to come, he says.

While we wait for these to unfold and the implications (if any) on the start-up ecosystem, African start-ups are leveraging the immense power of another platform, WhatsApp.

WhatsApp: Two billion users and counting. . .

For starters, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world with over two billion users in 180 countries. It is also the messaging market leader in every country except 25 — outperforming Facebook Messenger and WeChat competitors.

According to Digital 2023: Global Overview report, ‘WhatsApp has gained traction with 15.8% of internet users across the world preferring it over other platforms, as WhatsApp users spend an average of 17 hours and 20 minutes on the app each month. This trend is also particularly evident across Africa, where countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa have over 70% of their internet users frequently using WhatsApp.’

Apparently, WhatsApp is not only the top messaging app among customers but also the same for companies. And African start-ups are delivering products and services, offering customer support, and marketing their businesses via the app instead of another mobile app that customers have to download on their devices.


WhatsApp Business is good for African businesses

  • It allows companies to message their customers directly, safely and securely within the WhatsApp messaging platform.
  • Conversational customer service or conversational commerce is possible via WhatsApp in today’s world of texts, chats, tweets (Xs) and posts.
  • Highly likely that the customers already have WhatsApp pre-installed or downloaded on their devices. So African start-ups meet customers where they already are.
  • It facilitates a seamless two-way conversation between businesses and their customers.
  • The extensive reach is impressive. African start-ups can garner customers locally and globally.

Five years ago, e-commerce powerhouse, Konga, introduced a feature allowing merchants to contact potential buyers via WhatsApp. Small and medium businesses (SMEs) in Nigeria have since toed the line as well engaging with potential customers on the app and sending photos while discussing prices and delivery terms.

Fast forward to the post-pandemic years and WhatsApp is clearly the preferred channel of communication between African start-ups and their customers. It is king across the continent. And the big four start-up ecosystems have impressive numbers.

As of this year, WhatsApp is the third most used social media platform, with its ease of use for professional purposes.

However, with its advantages, WhatsApp also comes with data privacy concerns. And African start-ups harnessing the app’s profitable powers have a duty of care towards their customers; they ought to adhere to the platform’s privacy policies and guidelines. It is critical that businesses protect their customers’ information and ensure compliance with relevant data protection regulations.

For African start-ups, WhatsApp represents an entire range of factors instrumental to their successes including trust, transparency, credibility, marketing, and engagement. As they continue to explore the potential of the app, African start-ups would do well to uphold the standards and values associated with it.

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