The story of Amunzi: the Zambian social Network

While top global social network Facebook is enjoying world-wide dominance, in many areas of Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Nigeria and other surrounding countries, many have never heard of Facebook.

But many have heard of the Amunzi (“Community” or “village”), found here an African social network founded in 2011.The site was founded in a bedroom, just like many Silicon Valley start-ups, though Amunzi is purely African.

The site’s growth has been ‘incredible’, say its creators, and by December 2012, the site boasted over 15,000 users, beating its rivals both in Zambia and neighbouring countries.

After such a strong beginning in the Zambian territory, founder Tresford Himanansa aggressively targeted African countries with the most internet users, such as Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.

In October 2012, the site was revamped to its current version which they called “Amunzi Reloaded” and is available in English and 7 main local languages in Zambia.

As of June 2012, Amunzi is not only the third most visited website in Zambia — behind only Facebook, Google and Zambian Watchdog — but also the leader in user engagement in the Southern African region, surpassing  Facebook with an average of 430 minutes per visitor.

Functionality wise, there is much that distinguishes Facebook and Amunzi. Amunzi allows users to upload unlimited numbers of songs, it also has a bible allowing users to read and share the bible with their community members and save memory verses. Searching for verses is simplified as members can find verses they do not remember by searching for a particular sentence. Members can also compare verses from different bibles.

With Amunzi places, anyone can add locations of their business for free and its ad free.

Users can exchange private messages, update your board by sticking blogs,  photos, music, links and asking anonymous questions which community members can answer. The site is similar to other social networking sites in that users receive automatic notifications whenever there are updates from their community members.  They can even play games like Chess on the site. For a dedicated Amunzi user, there is little reason to make the switch, particularly if their friendship base is located in Africa.

Amunzi’s media sharing tools have led the site to heavy criticism. However, in its defence, Amunzi’s President Clive Simanansa said “Amunzi doesn’t distribute the content by itself; it just serves as a peer-to-peer service, where community members can share among themselves.”

Registration on Amunzi is free and open to everyone, and the site’s reach has now extended to the five continents.

The founders report that it is currently the most popular third most popular social network in Zambia, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria after Facebook and Twitter, with potential for growth to other African countries where its user base is still low.

Courtesy of Biztech

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