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In Cameroon, a Crowdsourced Site for Local Listings

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, April 2 2013 (Screenshot).

As tech innovation continues to heat up in Africa from Ethiopia to Zambia, homegrown social enterprise has African developers and entrepreneurs delivering solutions to their communities. In the case of a crowdsourced online listing service form Cameroon, innovation is being driven by collaboration with everyday citizens.

Wasamundi is an information services portal, providing visitors and tourists with a linkup to local businesses as well as civic ministries, utilities, and a host of other resources across Cameroon’s five regions. Users register to add new pages for different establishments to the site, a feature similar to Google Local. 

The platform was developed by Wasamundi, an eponymous group of computer science graduates from Cameroon’s University of Buea.  There are several side initiatives related to the site.  Wasa.Me is a URL shortening tool, the first like it to be developed in Cameroon.  In an interview with Venture Capital for Africa last month, one of the site’s founders explained that this can aid business owners by establishing, “a connection between online and offline…with a prestigious business card,” a unique URL that can operate more effectively than a phone number. 

This project is one example in a rising tide of African-generated social entrepreneurship. The concept of social enterprise has a checkered history in many African countries.  Splashy campaigns thought up by non-African entrepreneurs aiming to save the impoverished continent – think Kony 2012 – have left a bad taste in many mouths.  Thanks to the growing tech sector in many countries, a rising wave of technological and social initiatives are now being created in the spirit of “Africa, by Africa, for Africa” – the motto that Ugandan social media strategist T.M.S. Ruge used in a February Guardian article. As the number of Internet users rises on the continent, sites like Wasamundi could be shaping the future of the African online landscape. 

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.