Truecaller Set up office in Kenya, South Africa raises questions

Tefo Mohapi at iAfrikan raises some interesting questions about Truecaller’s idea to set up an office in Kenya versus South Africa.

The Truecaller Kenya MD Zakari Hersi reckons that they chose Kenya because if the usage habits, but the numbers on spam callers report by Truecaller show that South Africa, with it’s bigger market is a much more lucrative option than Kenya. South Africa is number 5 globally while Kenya is number 20. Egypt and Nigeria are there in between.

This ends with an argument that the reason they are avoiding South Africa could be the legislation there on data protection, something that is still in the drafts for Kenya, but is an existing law in South Africa.

In its current form, the Truecaller platform, app and processes flout some of South Africa’s current data protection and privacy laws as well as the yet-to-be-fully-implemented Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) in South Africa. These laws, should someone (e.g. a person whose details are listed on Truecaller without their knowledge, permission or being notified) lay a case against the company, could see Truecaller being fined millions of dollars in some specific cases should they be found guilty in South Africa, such stringent measures don’t yet exist in Kenya.


…Protection of Personal Information Act? YES!
with no concrete explanation to my answer I think that’s the Case

Yet here we were thinking it was a win for us. Truecaller has always seemed fishy and even more so now that this perspective has been shown to me.

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Lakini ni vile Wakenya wengi issue kidogo kuruka TrueCaller.

Block calls or sms? Install TrueCaller yet most Androids can do it by default (from Android 5)

Kuna ninja imejaribu kunirusha pesa or mwizi ya bwana ya mtu. Weka TrueCaller ujue ni nani yet people like me and most cons wame save na majina gushi.

So Kenya is attractive because most people believe in the app’s usability.

The best way to understand TrueCaller’s decision to settle on a local HQ is to have a fine grasp of its business model.
Someone mentioned SA’s regulations restrict access to personal information, which is detrimental to modern tech businesses that value data more than money.
It is really that simple: station their base in a country with shaky regulations in terms of access to information, and sell what it gathers to telemarketing institutions.


spam calls != usage. My yahoo receives much more spam than my gmail; that does not in any way reflect my usage nor the amount of email each receives.

Talking of privacy, Kenyans don’t really seem to care that much about their personal data except for Mpesa and bank ATM pin numbers,how many times do you leave a guard your Id, Mpesa guys have your ID number,tell number and name, Truecaller has an option to,fill in your details and many people I know have done this from name, email alternate number and work place or occupation, mostly because Truecaller uses suggestions from people and Kenyans are not known for their creative Nick names and add funny things to remind them of you,eg maina funny smile, John sumbua etc