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SA Carry1st to Launch Africa’s First Super App


TechInAfrica — Carry1st has newly launched its first game, Carry1st Trivia, in Nigeria last March.  A similar game was also launched recently in South Africa and Kenya. According to the startup, the game is “quickly approaching” one million downloads across the three countries.

In the Asian tech startup scene, especially in Indonesia and China, an interesting trend of “super app” is emerging. A super app is an app that offers users seamless access to a number of services, often vertically.

One of the most popular super apps so far is Tencent’s WeChat, which is also available in South Africa, which bundles messaging, social media, and mobile payments, and Indonesia’s Gojek which offers a variety of services that include ride-hailing, food delivery, and payments.

Having a $2-million dollar funding, this Cape Town-based startup is planning to use games to build what appears to be Africa’s first super app.

The venture was founded in 2018 by Sierra Leonean Cordel Robbin-Coker and Lucy Parry from the US. Robbin-Coker has a background in finance in the US, is an active angel investor with about 20 investments in African tech startups, and is a former vice president of The Carlyle Group‘s first Africa fund.

Robbin-Coker explained in an occasion last month, Carry1st Trivia is a dual-mode quiz game with a range of topical questions and fun facts about local and international sports, business, politics, history, and entertainment. He stated that the game has 250,000 monthly active users.

The startup, which has won the Best News and Entertainment Solution at the 2019 AppsAfrica Innovation Awards, has recently soft-launched Hyper Games, a multiplayer tournament of simple arcade-style games.

“In Hyper we users get to play a new game every day, online or offline, and have a chance to compete against their friends and other users.  We have a few ideas we are developing for the next products, which will either be licensed or co-developed with third-parties,” Robbin-Coker said.

Carry1st is not aiming to be a “AAA game studio” but to be the go-to conduit for “well-adapted titles” to the African continent, he insisted.

He also said that gaming will take-off in Africa much similar to the way it has exploded around the world.

“There is nothing fundamentally different about the African character – it will happen here as well. It’s a function of supply, well-adapted supply distributed through locally relevant channels, and we will see a lot of suppressed demand come to the fore.

“We are trying to be that catalyst. And when global players see there is a real market here, they’ll come in droves — we’ll look to be their partner of choice,” he said.

In the case of a super app, Robbin-Coker is confident that the smartphone is shaping up to be “the most effective and economical ” channel for many of the basic goods and services that African consumers need, particularly entertainment, communication, commerce, and transportation.

“Our bet from observing similar global markets as well as our own across Africa is that entertainment and communication are the most effective services to bringing people online en masse, drive digital literacy and act as a conduit to the broader global connected economy,” he said.

He concluded that at their most basic level, free-to-play games are digital economies that provide users the ability to earn and purchase currency which can be used for various in-app goods and services.



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