Cassava Smartech, a spinoff of telecoms giant Econet Wireless, has developed a multi-purpose application, a move meant to challenge the dominance of Whatsapp in Africa.
Recently Strive Masiyiwa, the founder of the company, posed a question to his Facebook followers on why as Africa we never replied to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. His argument is quite solid because if Africa had fast followed those innovations it would have unlocked billions of dollars into the continent’s GDP.
For instance, in China WeChat dominates the local market as Facebook and WhatsApp face a ban in the Asian country. This has seen WeChat dominates as both a social messaging application and a payments solutions.
Masiyiwa had recently hinted that Econet would soon be launching its first social messaging application modelled around a popular Chinese application. A look at the version of the application which is named Sasai shows features that resemble China's WeChat.
Sasai is an all-in-one app that enables you to chat, pay and play – you can download it on the app stores here. Users are able to link their application to their EcoCash wallets and make payments, send or receive money through Sasai.
It is easy to see that Econet Wireless is already leveraging on its broad user base for the launch. The convenience of the Ecocash wallet may be a draw for many of its subscribers who transact daily using the mobile money payments solution.
The app will launch with the Explore, Pay and Chat features. However, Cassava is intent on rolling out more features as time passes as users get more acquainted with the application.
Sasai will be accessible through Econet Wireless which has operations in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi. The statement released by the company states that it hopes to have covered eight markets by March 2020.
Econet is not new to disrupting traditional markets in Africa. It has leveraged on its understanding of local markets to change several traditional ecosystems in Africa. For instance, it has managed to cover more people through its Ecocash service than traditional banks could.
However, it has created a pseudo monopoly due to leveraging its services on its subscriber base. In July, a network blackout across all it's services brought Zimbabwe business to a halt. Many businesses could not transact and many people left stranded as they rely on the telecoms giant.
Does this signal end of an era for WhatsApp?