Mara Group, a Dubai-based African group founded by Uganda’s Ashish Thakkar, has released its own ‘Mara Messenger’ into the fiercely competitive market for mobile messenger apps.
The group, which has recently made aggressive investments into Africa’s financial sector through its subsidiary Atlas Mara – a joint venture between Thakkar and former Barclays CEO Robert Diamond – apparently plans to use this financial muscle to overpower the niche.
“The launch of Mara Messenger marks the dawn of a new era in Africa. For the first time, we will have a truly home-grown messaging platform that is tailored to the individual cultures of the continent,” Thakkar told Forbes in a brief interview.
“Our plan is to roll out Mara Messenger in multiple languages, on multiple devices, making it accessible to anyone and everyone across Africa and the world at the touch of a button.”
Mara’s primary and immediate goal is to unseat Whatsapp as the dominant messenger App in Africa, but aside from this one app, competitors to Mara Messenger in Africa also include Viber, WeChat, Mxit, 2go and the Ghana-focused Saya mobile (acquired by Kirusa in August).
However, Thakkar is confident that Mara Messenger has been sufficiently tailored to meet the needs of African consumers, and represents a localised mobile messaging app that will better connect Africans back home with friends, families, and colleagues around the world.
The app also sits alongside other social innovations in the repertoire of the Mara Group, which also has ‘Mara Mentor’, a social platform in Nigeria designed to enable young entrepreneurs to connect and exchange ideas with leading business people in the country.