Mobile messaging has become a key tool for communication among Africans, like everywhere else. Millions on the continent use various messaging platforms daily thanks to the growing penetration of smartphones in some of the continent’s biggest economies.
Yet, even though the ubiquity of the apps like Whatsapp, BlackBerry Messenger and WeChat allow for great communication, a new African-themed sticker app is looking to help improve the experience for Africans. This Afro Emoji, which was started by Nigerian entrepreneurs, has started out with characters decked in Nigerian attires with an array of local slangs and phrases. The plan is to include more pan-African characters and phrases in coming months.
It’s available for free download and can be used across popular mobile messaging and social media platforms. The first few characters are available for free and there’s a $1.99 fee required to access a deeper gallery.
The Afro Emoji app highlights how expressive Africans can be. With various cool slangs available on the app, it allows users customize to their preferred language. “We, as Africans, definitely have an idiosyncratic way of communicating with one another, and Afro Emoji is really a fun, accessible graphic depiction of that. We are building a modern African hieroglyph that represents us.” Ayoola Daramola, Afro Emoji team lead, says.
In the last few years, there have been calls, led by Miley Cyrus no less, for more racial diversity in emojis available on messaging apps. Apple diversified its emoji offerings in April 2015 and WhatsApp did same in August of the same year. The world’s first African themed emojis were created by Oju Africa in 2014.
More than diversifying the emoji and sticker app options available, Afro Emoji also has potential for adoption outside Africa. Through its a guide of translations to its range of emojis, it can offer a unique glimpse into how Africans communicate with each other.