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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

African App Company Creates World's First Black Emoticons

Oju Black Emoticons

An innovative app company called Oju Africa, based in the country of Mauritius, has introduced a set of African/Black emoticons as a solution to the lack of diversity on Apple's popular set of emoticons used around the world. Released earlier this year, the unique emoticons can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, and are designed to work on all Android platforms. They will soon also be available on Apple's iOS.

An emoticon, for those that don't know, is a graphic representation of a facial expression, formed by using various combinations of keyboard characters. For example, typing in :-) creates a smile. Emoticons are generally used in text messages, and on social meda platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and others.

So why the need for Black emoticons?

CNN recently interviewed Alpesh Patel, CEO of Oju Africa, and during the interview he explains why there was a need for the emoticons: "Oju is an iconic African character -- if you look at the main logo with the tongue sticking out, he's a cheeky, very friendly, cool African character that also works in digital by the smilie, but also works in non-digital by a traditional character licensing. Today Africa does not have its own Mickey Mouse, does not have its own Hello Kitty, there is no African character brand."

According to their web site, the company was created to "celebrate Africa", and what better way to do it then to give Africans a digital face that looks like them.

Just how big is the mobile phone industry in Africa?

Well, according to, since the year 2000, the mobile phone market in Africa has grown from 16.5 million cell phone users to more than 650 million cell phone users. That means that the continent of Africa has more cell phone users than the United States or the entire European Union.

Patel comments, "Mobile is basically what makes Africa go round today, what makes Africa work today. We never had any fixed infrastructure so Africa has come from nothing to wireless and in that process we've been able to develop some superior networks in Africa compared to the ones in the western world."

Obviously with that many cell phone users in Africa plus the millions of African descendants around the world (African Americans, African Europeans, etc), it would be nice to have a digital set of emoticons that they can identify with.

For more details about Oju Africa, visit:

To download the Black emoticons to your mobile phone, visit: