By 27 March 2020 | Categories: Communications



The introduction of MTN’s 20MB daily data lifeline comes at a critical time when South Africans will depend on connectivity during the 21-day lockdown. The free daily data is available for use on ayoba, an instant messaging app and can be used for text, video, audio and image sending and receiving – as well as for keeping up to date on the outside world via ayoba news and entertainment channels.

This home-grown instant messaging platform has functionalities similar to WhatsApp. What sets ayoba apart, however, is that it allows ayoba users to also communicate with users who use basic and feature phones or don’t have the ayoba app.

Subscribers that use basic and feature phones can connect via SMS and can respond to messages sent from the ayoba app using free SMSs if they are MTN customers. Ayoba subscribers can also send messages to other contacts who don’t have the app - these messages will be delivered as texts and if there are images or files attached, the messages will include links to view them in their browser.

“The introduction of the 20MB daily data lifeline on ayoba is in line with MTN’s commitment to make connectivity more accessible and affordable for all South Africans. During this time, especially, we hope that it gives our customers the means to keep in touch with loved ones as we wait for the Coronavirus pandemic to pass,” says Jacqui ‘O Sullivan, Executive for Corporate Affairs: MTN SA.

Here are a few great reasons to use ayoba:

  • Free to use: ayoba is free to use across all networks. You need data to send messages and files to your contacts, but MTN provides 20MB of free data, daily.
  • Local languages: ayoba is available in isiXhosa, isiZulu, Afrikaans and English.
  • Quick connect: Users can use their existing address book to quickly and easily connect with contacts.
  • Chat now: Users can instantly send and receive text and voice messages with any of their contacts, even those using feature phones and regardless of the network. Subscribers using other networks will receive the message as SMS but won’t be able to respond.
  • Chat with everyone: Users can exchange SMS text messages with anyone in their contact list, regardless of whether they’ve installed Ayoba or not.
  • Group chat: Users can set up group chats to easily communicate with friends and family in a single chat. Group chat can now accommodate 50 users.
  • Calls: Users can make calls within the app using their voice normal/usual connection.
  • Channels: Users can subscribe to ayoba channels for free for locally relevant content across various categories including [Sports, News, Fashion and Food Tips etc]. There are also two COVID-19 channels that are live and sharing updated news and information as it happens. MTN customers can access these channels free of any data costs with their daily 20MB.
  • Security: End-to-end encryption means that messages in a conversation cannot be read by anyone else.

Currently available to all Android handsets, the ayoba instant messaging app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store as well as from Downloading is zero-rated for MTN customers on the ayoba website. Visit for details on how to use and navigate on ayoba.

“We are committed to continue building on our partnership with ayoba with the aim of bridging the digital divide as far as possible. To us, this means giving customers who only have access to basic and feature phones the opportunity to still respond to messages from ayoba,” continues O’Sullivan.

“With our partnership with ayoba we are creating a ‘WeChat for Africa’ by building fully-fledged ecosystem for Africans, by Africans. The app reflects local needs and inspirations, and will, in future, feature other value-added services such as music, gaming, in-app browsing, instant recharge. This is just one of the ways that we are living up to our vision of leading the delivery of a bold, new digital world for our customers”.



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