WhatsApp, Africa’s most popular messaging platform has reached a milestone of 2 billion global users, rising from the 1.5 billion recorded two years ago.
The achievement comes just weeks after its parent company, Facebook, disclosed that it had amassed 2.5 billion users on its platform.
Founded in 2009, WhatsApp has grown to be the largest messaging platform in the world and is widely revered for its end to end message encryption.
In 2014, Facebook acquired the Instant Messaging platform for $19 billion, the largest acquisition by the social media giant to date.
However, WhatsApp virtually makes no revenue and recently scrapped plans to introduce ads into the platform.
Africa’s Largest Messaging platform
In 2018, about 192 million social media users were recorded in Africa. WhatsApp had the largest percentage of the users followed closely by Facebook.
The messaging app is used extensively in most of Africa’s tech hubs like Kenya where 73% of the population are internet users, 49% in South Africa and 53% in Nigeria which amounts to 126 million internet users.
The rate of mobile phone penetration and the expansion of broadband connection on the continent creates an opportunity for WhatsApp user base to continue to grow exponentially.
WhatsApp has become a hub for business
Crossing the two billion mark is a huge feat for WhatsApp. Although the app was created as a messaging platform, its rapidly growing numbers has helped it evolve into a hub for businesses.Over the past year, WhatsApp has released new business features that have helped a lot of businesses correspond efficiently with staff and clients. Indeed, WhatsApp has become the official communicating channel for several companies.
Also, some startups are building businesses around WhatsApp, a development which can further influence the evolution of the app. For instance, Vahan, a Y Combinator-backed startup, uses WhatsApp to help delivery startups find blue-collar workers.
Following the alleged hack of the phone of Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos on WhatsApp, some regulatory bodies have questioned the invulnerability of WhatsApp’s end to end encryption.
There are other governments like India (its largest market with about 400 million users) and the US who are calling for the messaging app to drop the encryption citing terrorism and crimes like sex trafficking that can be propagated through encrypted platforms.
However, WhatsApp in a blog post has revealed that it will not compromise on the security of the platform because that would make some of their users less safe.
“Strong encryption is a necessity in modern life. We will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe. For even more protection, we work with top security experts, employ industry-leading technology to stop misuse as well as provide controls and ways to report issues — without sacrificing privacy,”
Extract WhatsApp Blog Post
The privacy and protection of WhatsApp end to end encryption makes it attractive as it prevents unauthorised persons from reading users messages. This includes law enforcement.
However, with its increasing user base, other challenges like fake information and criminal activities like scam, kidnappings and of course terrorism can be effeciently plotted and executed through the platform.
Addressing the growing concerns WhatsApp has said it is working with industry experts to mitigate such concerns by looking for ways to report issues.
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