A civil engineering student from Wits launches a new social media app.

Dedication and hard work are what inspired young inventor, Musa Nyathi to finally pursue his dreams in app development. From a young age, the seventeen-year-old saw a need to connect the world through a social media app that is affordable and accessible to the web community.

The Wits civil engineering student officially launched Flensi Connect, a social media platform on Saturday, April 25. The app, similar to Whatsapp, allows people to connect from all over the world at a fraction of the data costs than more mainstream apps. according to Nyathi.

“I founded it a month back and never planned to launch it, it was only used by me and my best friend so that we had our own bestie chat app,” he said. “After the announcement of the lockdown extension, our friends complained about how they would have to spend so much money on data to be always chatting on WhatsApp,” he added.

He said when he finally published the app, he was worried about the criticism he might get as a young developer, but later refrained from that thought, and focused mainly on his data-saving application. “My app is different from other social networks by having a self-built diary, a screenshot blocker, a message trimmer and a very high-security system with good privacy and has other features too,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.

Nyathi said he tested the data usage two days before he launched his app to see how users can benefit from its low data usage compared to Whatsapp. “A friend of mine sent [me] a video [of] 1 hour 30 minutes long and it went in in less than 3 minutes and in data usage, it had only used up to less than 18MB as compared to Whatsapp, [that took] more than 6 minutes to send and cost up to 60MB,” Nyathi said.

The Flensi Connect social app was launched on April 25 by Wits student Musa Nyathi. Photo: Zikhona Klaas

We also tested the call quality where I called someone in another province for an hour, and it only had used 1.26 MB and had very clear call connectivity, but WhatsApp usually takes a lot more, and the call connectivity keeps breaking and reconnecting,” he said.

Nyathi said that he is working on ten other apps but he is determined to register Flensi Connect app with the App Store. Nyathi said that he had struggled to find funding for his app and had used money from his internship and from a friend to fund the development. “For the developments, I paid with the money I got from my internship at IsoMetrix software solutions, I also received a publishing fund from Zweli Mabaso who is a former Wits graduate,” Nyathi said.

He told Wits Vuvuzela that he decided to employ at least five members to form part of his team that will help him with promoting the app in expanding its reach. “We launched it on April 25 and already have 4800 [plus] users but we still call for South Africa to help us reach the goal of one million usages as this would be my source of motivation to keep working hard,” he said.

Prince Mapheke Mathebe (22), a second-year student in Management Assistance at Wits, said that he downloaded the app from Google Play store a few days ago after a  friend’s recommendation. “This is an amazing app, since it uses less data. What I like about this app [is that] you can block people from taking screenshots of your chats and it has a dark and light mode,” he said.

Nokwethemba Phakathi (18) a first-year student BSc in aeronautical engineering at Wits, said that she complements its lower data usage. After having long voice notes and sending lots of text messages, she still used very little data. “When I checked out the data usage, it turned out that I had only used 1,65 MB, I was really surprised about that,” she said.

Phakathi said, however, there is a room for improvement in the app as she prefers to be able to change her chat wallpaper for personalisation. Nyathi said after two days the app was launched, there were some complaints about running ads and bugs in the background from users, said Nyathi.

“We had a challenge on our second day after [the] launch, I was told there is an SDK bug on the app and I had to fix the issue and update the app on the third day and now everything is fine,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.

Nyathi wants to expand his app to have a global reach and calls for support from South African investors to assist him in promoting his local app. “Our end goal is to take over the world of social media. With our ideas and an investor, we believe that we will be the world’s next biggest social media platform.”

FEATURED IMAGE: Musa Nyathi, standing left, with friends and students at Wits University. Photo: Provided