African matchmaking goes digital

AFRICAN singles are “swiping right” into dates, hookups and meaningful relationships as matchmaking apps facilitate mobile dating on the continent.

Online dating has also brewed intra-African romance among different nationalities, cultures, religions and creeds.

With the growing penetration of smartphones in Africa, internet-based dating, especially among the millennials and middle-aged singles is beginning to change the very concept of romance.

It is a radical departure from when young men and women anticipated meeting potential life partners through friends or family –– or even in the gym, cinemas, sports events, a concert or in college.

While most people still find love interests in “the real world” in Africa, technology has made it convenient for people to comb through millions of profiles online to find one that most appeals to them.

As such, “swiping right or left” –– the former to like and the latter to pass, has entered Africa’s dating vocabulary.

Pickup lines that for aeons defined traditional dating is now being replaced by emojis or a casual “hey” because online dating requires less adrenaline or effort.

Recent figures from market and consumer data firm, Statista, project that revenue in the matchmaking segment in Africa will reach 152 million dollars in 2021.

“Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2021-2025) of 13.80 per cent, resulting in a projected market volume of 255 million US dollars by 2025,” the research firm quotes.

“User penetration will be 0.5 per cent in 2021 and is expected to hit 0.7 per cent by 2025.

In the period under review, the number of Africans using digital dating services is expected to reach 9.1 million by 2025.

Grand View Research, Inc cites the proliferation of smartphones and the increasing internet penetration are among the major factors that are expected to drive the growth of this market.

Research released in November 2021 shows the global online dating application market size is projected to reach 11.03 billion US dollars by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 5.6 per cent from 2021 to 2028.

According to Statista, most revenue will be generated in India (685 million US dollars in 2021), with Singapore projected to have the highest usage penetration at the rate of 2.8 per cent year-on-year.

Money can’t buy you love, but Statista shows that increasing numbers of African users are willing to pay for the premium services offered by dating apps, in a bid to match with more dates.

This is because most dating companies use the freemium business model, meaning you can use the app without cost, but you unlock additional benefits by paying extra.

Tinder for instance –– the world’s most popular dating app –– has a three-tier subscription model, Tinder Plus, Tinder Gold and Tinder Platinum.

Each gives you an advert-free experience and props up your profile to enhance your chances of getting a hookup or finding someone you could have a meaningful relationship with.

In Africa, Tinder, Bumble and Badoo are some of the most common digital dating platforms, while homegrown apps are also gaining prominence.

Leading African matchmaking services include African Love, Nigerian Dating, KenyanCupid, Truly African, Ethiopian Personals, Ghana Love, Kisses of Africa and Afro Introductions.

But people are not just connecting on dating apps. Singles are fostering meaningful relationships on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp groups, too.

Usage of online dating apps in Africa has also accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdowns.

“The preference for online dating applications has been particularly growing in the wake of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Grand View Research, Inc report says in part.

“Several governments across the world have imposed lockdowns and restrictions on the movement of people and goods as part of the efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Hence, individuals are resorting to online dating applications to connect with people and engage in personal relationships.”

/bird story agency

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