Tanzania’s Ubongo launches learning app for kids


Tanzanian edutainment startup Ubongo has launched its Math Rats app, which aims to teach children mathematics skills through interacting with a story and has already had over 16,000 downloads.

Ubongo aims to simplify the teaching of mathematics to children through fun video stories in Swahili, and allows participation via SMS. It is watched by over 1.4 million viewers in Tanzania and is available in over one million more households across East Africa.

It launched an edutainment radio show across East Africa earlier this year, and has now moved into the app space with the August launch of Math Rats – or “Hesabu za Panya” in Kiswahili.

The app is an interactive e-book of the most popular episode of the Ubongok Kids television show.

“It allows kids to interact with the story they know and love in new ways, reading it themselves, reading along with a narrator, and solving puzzles and math problems to move on between pages,” Ubongo co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Nisha Ligon told Disrupt Africa.  

“It’s the first interactive e-book available in Kiswahili, and it’s just the first of many more exciting digital products to come.”


Math Rats is available for Android, with versions in Kiswahili and English. Ligon said Ubongo was using it to learn more about the market, user demand and user experience, as the startup builds its digital strategy and continues prototyping more advanced apps.  

“This app is available free, and the upcoming apps for next year will be under a freemium model,” she said.


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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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