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African instant messaging server JabberAfrica.org will be closing down at the end of June, three years after first opening the service.  Jabber is an open source instant messaging platform that can be used by a range of users including PC users and cellphone users.

Founder and sponsor Bruce Cohen says the financial burden of providing the free messaging platform is the primary reason for bringing the service to an end, leaving as many as 8,000 registered users looking for a new Jabber home. Over time, he says, traffic through the server has increased to around 3Gb a day, which has made the service increasingly expensive to fund.

Cohen says the JabberAfrica server has around 8,000 registered users with approximately a third of these active daily users.  Last week Cohen sent a message out on the JabberAfrica network to announce the impending closure:

“I’m sorry to advise that the jabberafrica server is closing down at the end of June. I realise this will inconvenience you and I apologise for it but I can no longer continue to fund this service. Bruce Cohen," he wrote in his short announcement.

Cohen says that since he sent out the message he has had a number of people contact him looking to assist in continuing the service and he says he will look into these opportunities to see if there is a way to keep the service running. If not, the servers will be shut down at the end of June.

Cohen says he became involved in the Jabber service in the hope that he would be able to build a community around Jabber. "Unfortunately there has not been the growth I had expected," he says. "We have catered to the consumer market with JabberAfrica and the demand has remained small."

Part of the problem, he says, is that once users have established themselves on other messaging platforms it is difficult to encourage them to switch to Jabber. "If your buddies are on Yahoo then you're a lot less likely to switch," he says.

Cohen says he still believes Jabber is an excellent agnostic, open source platform for multi-messaging that is very robust and can handle a range of communications, including VoIP, over the network.