Why Tanzanian Apps Fail Part 2 (Series Finale Ft. Faraja Nyalandu, Jumanne Mtambalike & AzamPay)

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

Mark Twain

Whenever I browse through Playstore, I find it like a mass grave full of dead and inactive Apps that were built with big dreams. But they haven’t been updated for the past 3 years now…they are all dead. One star with a negative review at the top, that did not do any favor to the App Developers, the reviews which brought about more death of these good-intentioned apps. It’s a bloodbath.

As a Software Development consultant who is saddened by this horrible mess we, as a Tanzanian Tech community have brought ourselves to, I have been motivated to write this article for you.

This my last piece about this topic.

Ok now. Let’s begin. We all have seen it. An app promoted in radio, TVs, and social media as the solution to solve a problem. Or it’s your friend’s App/Website which they started and had some marketing budget which helped them get 1000 downloads/visitors a week. The number keeps growing every week and you think that THEY HAVE MADE IT!!

But going to week number 8, the daily active user’s trend starts to go like this…

Graph showing daily active user growth for Apps/Website with respect to time.
Drawn by my little brother 🙂

This is normality among our Apps, and it has happened to almost everyone. Wasafi had the Wasafi.com platform for selling digital music but it did not go where they wanted it to. They had money power, they had the media attention and all that. We also have these people who won Best Startup of the year – Best Innovator in the country then they are given millions of shillings plus media interviews and front-page ads but they fail, so don’t worry.

This is the healthy way you want your App to grow:

A Graph showing a healthy growth of your App or Website as time goes on

Now, what seems to be a problem? What are we missing here? We have an untapped market with really smart people who have means and influence plus an established fanbase but there is still no one able to take over the 24 Million Internet users market that transacts more than 90 Billion Shillings per year!!!!!! Here are the reasons why, according to my insights and experience.


“A lie travels around the globe while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

Mark Twain

We have all seen that Ad. The “End of All your problems” just-click-here-and-we-will-deliver-it-to-you-in-one-day just to find that the item must be ordered from China.

“This is the safest place to buy electronics online” but they don’t tell you that there’s no buyers protection …when yu get cheated they show you the Terms of Agreement you clicked YES, I AGREE to or worse…the lousy text they wrote, “Don’t send money to the person you don’t know”…WHERE WAS THIS IN THE ADVERTISEMENT THEN!!!

This creates one furious user who feels cheated by the App or Service they trusted. This is only caused by BAD marketing…should I say Evil Marketing lying to people to get clicks, downloads, and views (Click Baits). This will never work in the long run.

SOLUTION: Be authentic from the start. Tell your users what they should really expect from their time visiting your App or Website, the advertisements should be in harmony with the actual product. Don’t lie about features you don’t even have. If it’s not AI-powered don’t say it, If it is..then tell them the AI limitations first…how about that? In this way, you get only interested people who will more likely return the next time and they probably won’t leave bad comments or uninstall your App.


  “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will be either lucky or wrong.”

 Suhail Doshi, chief executive officer, Mixpanel.

We have heard data worths more than Oil. We have heard about politicians using data to help them get elected. We have heard companies paying millions of dollars just to get data about people’s hobbies. The top 10 Biggest tech companies have only one thing in common, THE HAVE A LOT OF USER DATA. But you think it can’t be useful for your App or Website. You just think data can’t be able to help you sell that shoe online. Well, don’t wonder why the app fails.

There is no successful app you know that doesn’t use data to make marketing/sales/growth decisions…THERE IS NONE.

Mark Zuckerberg knew (from data) that people love to go through their friend’s Facebook profiles and see what they have changed in their profiles…Knowing this, he then created a NEWS FEED. Where if people upload images you can see it in your own news feed…THERE IS NO MAGIC ,THERE JUST DATA AT WORK!

SOLUTION: You need to write down what are actions that your users are doing in your app or website, you have to start to track them. Then track your user’s actions, this will enable you to find a specific pattern that your best users to through. Knowing that you can channel your app into that direction that will help more users to follow it. You can segment your best users into a group then send them special offers, know what time they are online so you can use that time to upload new content etc. Run A/B tests on them.

Do you know by collecting data..you can build a recommendation system just like the way Youtube does…the system learns your user’s actions and sends relative data built specifically to them!!!! There are many ways to collect data and doing analytics…the simpler way is using Firebase Analytics Tool, Google Analytics, Facebook analytics. I promise if you do all this, it will change your App/Website. But you need to have an expert to do it. Which brings us to the next point.


“Never understimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

George Carlin

I can bet you, someone in your team knew your Startup will go down but they were not in a position to be heard. This is something affecting many companies especially big ones. Where you have this Boss/CEO/Founder/Serial Entrepreneur/Innovator who thinks they know it all. The people who want titles and recognition than responsibility. They like to force things into existence, They never take advice – after all, they are the “Best Innovator of The Year” and they have money to push their demands.

Illustration of my point where management doesn’t consider ideas and voice form the entire team or when they don’t have enough technical staff

This is not only for CEO but for the Management that doesn’t like to listen to advice and comments from the freelancer/consultant/programmers/employees/subordinates…you know…the people who are actually BUILDING THE THING!!.

Also, there are those who never listen to the quiet genius… your users!!! I mean, the people that actually USE THE THING!!! This arrogance/ignorance always ends up very very very very badly…for everyone.

You can’t just keep refreshing the Payment web page, run Paid Advertising, and expect money to come in. Software is not a real estate business..it’s a completely new type of business that Tanzania has never experienced. It’s not farming, it’s not like “fremu” business..no you can’t close-shop at 6:00 pm because there are users at night waiting for customer care. You can’t delay more than 10 minutes to reply to customer complaints…You can’t just run a Software Company without a Programmer!!! It’s not like ANY other business you know. Here everything happens by the speed of light and needs constant daily changes.

Then there are these coders, programmers, and IT Specialists who don’t like to learn new techniques, programming language, or new architecture. Whatever they learned when they were young and hungry becomes their Gospel. Why should they? Its how they got this job right? The code runs right? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

What happens when it’s not broken but if you could just compress that audio/video, more people will use the app because now it won’t eat up all their internet bundle? Not broken but if you could just remove all the damn login forms to fill in the first screen, more users will sign up?

These coders who don’t even know basics like Git, but bully the new employee who knows how to do the work better…they bully her because she threatens their ego… These coders who know you don’t know about coding so they lie to you by throwing “big words” like “repairing Photosynthesis in the mainframe hashcode”…They will drive your business to the ground.

SOLUTION: Coming up with an idea, gathering capital, writing a business plan, pitching them is a skill but so is user experience design, copywriters, user interface design, system architecture design, database, security, and implementation of the idea. You need to respect all of these people if you don’t respect people you are paying then hire people who you will respect. They actually know what you don’t. If you are harassing them, they won’t even tell you…It’s not their business!!

“Quiet people have the loudest minds.”

Stephen Hawking

Once a while, hiring a reputable consultant or freelancer to come and shake things up…see what can be done better and advise on what to do. Maybe also they will give you feedback on your employees.

Any tech company must have among others…a Marketing Team, Designing Team, Legal Team, Sales Team, Researchers, Data Analysts and Programmers (Back-End, Front End, DevOps, Security) even if they work more than one role no matter how small you are, they must be there and they must be heard.


“Men will not look at things as they really are, but as they wish them to be- and are ruined”

Niccolo Machiavelli

Do you really know Tanzanians? Do you think a simple questionnaire will help you get into their minds? Do you think if it works in the US then it will work in Mwanza? Have you ever seen how a Tanzanian use her phone? Do you know their spending habits? Do you really know WASWAHILI/WABONGO?

I mean, the people who switch off data during the day and go Airplane Mode for most of the day time so they can save battery charge.

The people who use Apps that help them “Speed Their Phones” by having Apps to tell them what uses more space and should be uninstalled.

People who buy a data bundle by credit. Some of them have to pay someone 500/= so they can have Instagram installed on their phones.

People who must chat/talk with the seller/app owner to bargain the price before buying a product.

Why should they go to your website instead of Youtube and learn stuff for free there?

Why should they pay your Study App and not just Google the learning materials or download a PDF Book for free?

Why should they purchase your TV Show service while they can get Netflix shows for free?

Should they use your Bodaboda hailing App if they have their own trusted bodaboda contacts in their phones?

Will they want to purchase online if the seller doesn’t have a physical office?

Do you know the “unspoken rules” that Tanzanian have in some respective industries? Example: If your app will cause the removal of the “middleman”/ “dalali”…it is going to have a hard time penetrating the market.

Can a Bus Company really get rid of all booking agents to pave the way for a Bus Booking App? If they can can…why can’t they just make their own App and not use yours.

So, you are trying to convince people to use an App so that they can be able to do the same thing they have been doing with normal/traditional methods…but now they need to learn your new process…will they adapt it that quickly?

Is it a news app? Can people get the same content you give on Instagram and in a much quicker “direct from the horse’s mouth” way?

Will your App survive when the user’s budget phone memory is full and they have to choose which App stays and which gets deleted?

SOLUTION: I could write a book about how Tanzanians use their phones and how they treat them and why they actually bought a phone in the first place. But let me just say this…

“Old Habits Die Hard.

Even if the Product or Service is good for the people, even if they know it’s good for them….they will need help to change their old habits…People who are easily adapting to your App are also going to easily leave you as well.

You need to build your app in a way/environment they are actually familiar with (maybe Mobile App/Web and fewer desktop websites)

Maybe you should actually place a way in which a user can bargain price with the seller before buying.

Maybe have the Swahili Language Option on your website, I mean don’t label it “Scarf”…label it “Mtandio”.

Maybe you should just go to street vendors who install Facebook to people’s phones and ask them to install your App to those people.

These people use FREEBASICS, can you put your app or web there? What if you actually take time to compress your audio and video so that they can actually stream and have some internet bundle to spare.

Maybe can you try to include the middle man/agent instead of removing them from the picture?

I know there are a lot of “Maybe”s here,

I know, I might not know exactly what works for the Tanzanians,

but the only thing I am sure of is that,

What WE are doing right now…

What the Tanzanian Tech Community is doing right now…

it is not the right way.

UPDATE: After posting this article, I got very huge feedback from readers and I thank you guys so much for that. I am adding some of my reader’s input here for all to learn just as I have.

Among my readers were

Jummanne Mtambalike founder of Sahara Ventures, he is the godfather of the startup community in Tanzania.

Faraja Nyalandu, who is a Founder & Executive Director of a successful Tanzanian tech company called Shule Direct.

Firas Ahmad, who is a Founder and CEO of AzamPay.

Idan Horenczyk , who is responsible for growth in Africa Regions for a $150 Million startup called AppsFlyer. AppsFlyer is the global leader in mobile attribution and marketing analytics.

and Michael Paul, who is a Forbes 30 under 30 Agribusiness Specialist CEO of DaVinco Consulting.

This is what they added

Jumanne Mtambalike’s Addition to this article topic
Founder and CEO Sahara Ventures – The Godfather of Tanzanian Startups

Faraja Nyalandu’s Addition to this blog article
Founder & Executive Director – Shule Direct

Michel Paul
Davinco CEO , Forbes 30 Under 30

Firas Ahmad
CEO and Co-Founder of AzamPay

Idan Horencyk
Responsible AppsFlyer’s growth in Africa Regions
AppFlyer is a App/Web marketing company generating $150Million a year

I am so thrilled to have these people who are first-line stakeholders in tech community reading and replying to this article. I am so grateful.

Congratulations on finishing the series finale and thanks for reading this long article.

I can’t have a comment section here so please reach out to us via:

Instagram: nickyrabit

Twitter: nngailo

Email: nicky@nickylegnard.com / nickyrabit@gmail.com

LinkedIn : Nicholaus Legnard


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8 thoughts on “Why Tanzanian Apps Fail Part 2 (Series Finale Ft. Faraja Nyalandu, Jumanne Mtambalike & AzamPay)

  1. A very long article yet very helpful!
    I once faced an employer who thought he knew everything! Never wanted to listen to what I advised! He never wanted to listen to any employee!
    At last I decided to do things the way he wanted and guess what🤣🤣
    It never too long the company was going down! Many employees quit from their jobs! And it was all gone and dead

  2. Chief, deployment and maintenance + management are two different things Chief. I will add up and will make it general in a sense that all this falls into two “viewed-from-perspectives” (PS: There are some instances of Swahili words in this, so bare with me + bare with some improper English use)

    This is happens for the following reasons:

    From the customer perspective:
    1. Depending on the customers base goal, customers or people who want apps created for them, only have one narrow perspective, to have an app that helps their business, so the will only provide a capital, for the app development and deployment, without thinking about maintenance cost of the app.

    2. With narrow and backward nature of not only Tanzanians livelihood and education, no one will notice nor will demand an app to being updated, since not everyone uses that app to the extent to notice flaws.

    3. The company/organization who ordered such an app, don’t receive nor care for professional expertise regarding such app, for maybe an update or overhaul for a better version, and even when they get such expertise advice, they will disregard it or won’t have enough money to initiate these received perspectives into action.

    Haya, from developers perspective:
    1. Computer Science/Software Engineers graduates, fresh graduates, wote wako a very narrow field in Africa, because of their narrow perspective and expertise of things, so everyone who graduates from the field, they only think of developing an app or a website, basi. All they know or understand is deployment of things, and not the aftermath.

    2. Hakuna professionals of such field, we just have people who studied Software Engineering and Computer Science. So no one takes the effort nor time to take various certifications for development of app or building websites. Because if they did, in those certification studies, they would learn what it means to develop and nurture a project.

    3. Such people ( Computer Science/Software Engineers ) they don’t care about legacy or portfolios of their perspective careers, they only care to find an end-means of getting money to feed themselves, so they won’t indulge in nurturing and taking care of the so called initial projects that they established days/months/even years ago

  3. This is trully a great piece of how the app world is at the moment, more young developers need to open up to new ideas and to learn how to catch up with the pace, and maybe its time the app stores to do some filtering on the non working applications and those that are basically only there for phishing it dissapoints to check for the rating and later that u have made the decision to download to realise it was a waste of you precious bytes.

    Keep it up Nicky.

    1. thank you so much brother for visiting my blog . and yes. the app store should do that and it has started filtering it nowadays.

  4. Hello very nice site!! Man .. Excellent .. Superb .. I will bookmark your site and take the feeds I’m happy to find a lot of useful info right here in the submit, we’d like work out more techniques in this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  5. Hi there are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you require any html coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

    1. Hello Mellie thanks for visiting. yes its wordpress. no HTML knowledge is required to fire up a WordPress blog. i just post an article the same way as Microsoft word. find a premium WordPress theme and a hosting package and install WordPress in it then upload the theme you bought. then voila.
      if you dont have hosting websites knowledge…goto WordPress they have a hosting service. if you need any more help reach out to me nickyrabit@gmail.com

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