in , ,

Lenali: A Textless, Voice-Based Social Network


TechInAfrica – More often than not, people of developing countries in Africa have little access and knowledge to the fast-advancing digital space mostly because the referred people are illiterate and unable to read—let alone write—properly. This thin, invisible wall that separates those who can or can’t read defines the unsurmountable gap in today’s unprecedented growth of millennial generation. Inability to read or write explicitly limits one’s perspective towards the outer world, especially in terms of social networking.

Mamadou Gouro Sidibé, a Malian innovator and entrepreneur, has developed a social networking app called Lenali, a voice-based social network designed for people without formal education. The app, which has over 60.000 users, was initially introduced back in 2017 and works operationally with local spoken languages. These languages include  Bambara, Soninke, Songhai, Mooré, Wolof, and even the foreign French.

Mamadou Gouro Sidibé via

Lenali is also a free-to-use application, meaning that literally anyone with an appropriate smartphone can register online and use it without any economical limitations. Users are able to post and comment—like any other social media medium—without having the ability to read nor to write. Sidibé ensured the users that ‘everything is done without the need for writing skills’, and the application facilitates those who want to use Lenali as a news and/or business platform.

This, in return, would be a potential fix to the stagnant literacy rate in Mali. According to UNESCO, the region has less than fifty-percent literacy rate, which could be the probable cause to the scarcity of social media—especially Facebook—users nationwide. Sidibé had also spoken of his initial goal to increase comprehension in the digital scene with Mali being the first region target, before eventually moving to Africa in major. To him, most countries in Africa potentially suffer from the same problem, and he’s to add more languages in the future.

The idea came to Sidibé when someone had asked him for help in using Viber, an online messaging app. He then presumed it would be a refreshing idea to develop a social networking platform without any literacy limitations whatsoever. Thus, Lenali was born with the purpose of connecting others who cannot use text-based social networks.

Lenali has also been used for social mobilization by local non-government organizations such as ‘Women of Mali’. These social mobilizations include educational publications regarding reproductive health, gender-based violence and literacy. People use Lenali because this platform can reach just about anyone, regardless of their ability to read and write.

Business-wise, Lenali also serves a purpose for those who can’t use mainstream social networks because of their boundaries. Ladji and Aya, two amongst Lenali’s many users, utilizes Lenali as their business platform where they endorse services and commodities by recording their voices in local language, before posting it for the whole community to see.

Yet the first moments of Lenali’s development wasn’t exactly peaches and rainbows. Sidibé recalled that when he created his first two businesses back in 2014, there were no incubators—companies who support startups with the essential funding and basic equipment—in Mali. An incubator would potentially support the success of his projects even further. Even so, Sidibé and his unwavering perseverance managed to drive his entrepreneurial self and his projects to accomplishment and triumph.


What do you think?

0 points
Upvote Downvote

Total votes: 0

Upvotes: 0

Upvotes percentage: 0.000000%

Downvotes: 0

Downvotes percentage: 0.000000%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Betelhem Dessie, Youngest Coder at Ethiopia’s First AI Lab

Meet Queen D. Tardoo, First Benue Female Aeronautical Engineering Student