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Uniquely African search engines

September 5, 2010  »  Web8 Comments

To search globally or locally…

How does one search for African sites on the Internet? Does he or she go the path of country-specific Google site, local upstart search engine, or targeted web directory? At one point, the most common method across the Internet was to browse or search custom web directories. However, the manual process of creating an accurate and current directory is becoming ineffective as the number of websites proliferates. Still, many of these directories still function for African nations who boast relatively few sites. In other words, the manual process of submitting URLs to directories and search engines is still effective – but barely.

Perhaps, for raw searching power, the best route at the moment is to utilize Google’s local domain searches. Most African nations have a Google search under their TLD. And, searches are available in more than a dozen languages spoken across the continent.  Interestingly, searches by African country for “[country] search engine” only find local Google pages for Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and South Africa.

However, the most common type of African search still relies on the directory. The next most popular seems to be searches based on ccTLD. There are also quite a few Google knock-offs that have been developed using generic search scripts and marketed as a unique entity. CIO East Africa reported on this trend a couple of months ago.

Either way, there is plenty of room for African startups to enter the search engine field, especially in nations without sufficient web directories. Google often overlooks smaller (but useful) African sites that have  a low Page Rank. In many cases, smaller African directories are overshadowed by large international directories that appear at the top of searches even though they are outdated.

Without more ado, the list, based on what ranked high on Google searches by country. Additions are welcomed:

East Africa:

  • A searchable directory of East African sites.


  • GoBATLA: Business directory started in 2006.


  • CamOnNet: Directory w/ directory search. Started in 2003.


  • Small user-submitted search engine indexing 93 sites and 14,000 links.


  • Yahoonoo: Easily searches .et domains.


  • GhPortal: Searches a limited number of Ghanaian sites.
  • Goallet: Basically a targeted Google-style search script.


  • ikenya: A searchable portal started in 2001.
  • irozho: Similar to Ghana’s Goallet, this search uses a generic script.



  • Searches an index of 2,299 Namibian sites.
  • Search a user-submitted directory


  • VConnect: VConnect is the largest local search engine in Nigeria. More than 300,0000 business are listed on VConnect.
  • Finelib: Business directory and search engine showcasing Nigeria information.
  • Naijoo: Utilizes a custom Google search.
  • Naija Search: Nigerian directory search started in 2007.
  • Search Nigeria: A new Nigerian search engine based on a standard script. This site indexes based on the word “nigeria”.


  • Bongoza: Still in beta, this search engine accesses “84,414+ webpages in East Africa”.
  • Search Tanzania: A directory indexing 1,500+ sites.
  • Tanserve: Another Tanzanian web directory which uses an internal custom Google search.


  • myUganda: A Ugandan web portal started in 1996.

South Africa:

  • Search ZA: Search the directory with an option to include only .za domains.
  • Ananzi: South African web directory.
  • Aardvark: A newer search engine that utilizes a Google custom search.

Africa in general:

  • WoYaa: Once considered the default African web directory/search, this site now seems very outdated and not targeted enough.
  •  – get ERROR! blank page

  • Thanks for pointing this out. I also see a blank page, although the domain is still active. Site must be temporarily down.

  • Chandan kumar

    Please add in your list. Its a largest local search engine and business directory of Nigeria. You missed this site.

  • Hi,

    Thanks for the update. This post was written in 2010 (and not updated since), probably as VConnect was just launched. I’ve added VConnect and will go through and update this post in general as a lot has changed in the past four years!


  • ZB

    Please add to the list. Zimbabwe’s Original Blog & Website Directory.

  • AE

    Update: will be such a great addition for Cameroon.

  • Folarin Ladokun

    You need to add this local directory to the Nigerian List TagNaija is Nigeria’s foremost business guide, the Nation’s Metropolis of Entrepreneurial Information, Business Directory and Blogs that teach SMEs to Start, Run and Manage their businesses profitably.

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