South Africa’s communications minister said today that this week’s massive social media outage of Facebook Inc. apps including WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook itself, serves as a reminder that governments around the world can do more to support the development of local social media platforms.
Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that the creation and popularity of MXit, a Naspers-backed chat service established in South Africa, was evidence that local companies could indeed produce successful technology with the right backing.
“South Africa needs to support young people and citizens to develop social media platforms that we use,” said the minister, who was transferred in August from the department of small business development, quoted by Bloomberg.
“We cannot be dependent on the West for our technological environment, we must drive this ourselves as a country.”
Two years before the company officially closed its doors in SA in 2016, MXit had 88-million registered users.
MXit was, however, unable to withstand US-based competitors like WhatsApp and eventually succumbed.
At one point in the early 2010s, MXit was nearly ubiquitous in South Africa and was synonymous with cellphone chatting apps. It was the first real chat platform experienced by many South Africans. Continue reading