Mara Connect: A Ugandan Businessman’s Solution for a Mobile, Skype-like App in Africa

Mara Connect, the brainchild of Ugandan entrepreneur and billionaire, Ashish Thakkar, is a mobile messaging app similar to Skype. But more than that, the application signals a new trend within a continent where 85% of the population is under the age of 35 and boasts 650 million mobile phone subscribers, according to VentureBeat.

Before the end of the year, Lenovo plans to introduce a smartphone in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country (160 million people), and a nation that had 113 million mobile phone subscribers as of 2012.

According to TechCrunch, at least 40% of Africans will have smartphones in 5 years, provided the adoption curve follows the same pattern as regular mobile phone ownership did in past years. With more smartphone users, the mobile app market in sub-Saharan Africa is poised to explode.

“The Indian tiger and the Chinese dragon have had their days, it’s now the African lion’s turn,” says Thakkar.

Thakkar’s company, which not only builds apps, also has a thought incubator called Mara Mentor, an immersive entrepreneurial experience similar to Y Combinator. Along with international developers, expect in-country apps to emerge in Africa.