Opera Web Browser Hits 100M Users In Africa. Why Do So Many Africans Use It?

By Dana Sanchez Published: November 13, 2016, 12:01 am
Opera Web BrowserPhoto: blogs.blackberry.com

South Africa’s first IP connection was made in 1991 between Rhodes University Computing Centre in Grahamstown and the home of computer scientist Randy Bush in Portland, Oregon, U.S.

Four years later, two Norwegian developers started Opera Software, imagining an open, affordable internet, according to an Opera blog. In the mid 1990s, less than 1 percent of the world was online. The idea that access to the internet should be a universal right was a radical one.

By the early 2000s, mobile network operators were working across Africa to connect Africans everywhere.

Opera is a web browser developed by Opera Software with headquarters in Oslo, Norway. Opera launched its Mini mobile microbrowser in 2006, designed for mobile phones. Ten years later, it’s celebrating 100 million African Opera users.

So why do so many people in Africa use the Opera web browser?

Suyash Chandak, a student of management, explained it like this on Quora.com:

There is a high degree of correlation between higher per capita income and the browser used. Countries with high income use Chrome, medium level of income use UC browser and lowest level of incomes use Opera.

Opera, with options like speed browsing, seems to be the lightest (in terms of data usage and system requirements) while Chrome seems to be the heaviest. This makes Opera the preferred choice of people who can’t afford high-performance phones and costly internet data packs. But people who can afford such phones and high volume data pack would prefer Chrome because of its quality. UC browser, I believe lies somewhere in between.

Niyikiza Aimable said African web users mostly access the web through their mobile phones, according to Quora:

Long before smartphones arrived in Africa, Opera (Mini) was the de facto mobile phone browser. Other browsers came in with more features that most people didn’t need, and at the expense of their already not-so-big bandwidth.

That’s how Opera built its own name as the go-to browser in communities with low internet connectivity, especially for mobile users.

Global brands still have a problem understanding the African market.

Opera’s State of the Mobile Web Africa Report 2016 looks into some of the data and statistics of the African mobile web.

From Footprint 2 Africa. Story by Milly W. Maina.

The just-released State of the Mobile Web Africa Report by Opera reveals that the Internet company has hit the 100 million-user mark in Africa with an 86 percent market share in Kenya, 71 percent in Nigeria; and 53 percent in South Africa.

Opera is renowned for its compression technology which helps consumers save on data costs and addresses issues relating to congestion and page sizes enhancing usability, functionality and access- even in poor network conditions.

“We believe data compression is as relevant and useful now as it was a decade ago,” says Richard Monday, vice president for Opera, Africa.

Its 2016 report ranks South Africa first in app usage in Africa with a third of its population using mobile applications.

It shows that Ghanaians, Kenyans, Seychellois and Mauritians average usage of over 160 MB every month, making them the highest data users in Africa.

It also finds a 36 percent increase in visits to video streaming websites on Opera Mini on the continent since 2012 with Tanzanian users more likely to visit YouTube at 22 percent.

Nigerians are regular social media users with 70 percent of Nigeria’s 16 million Facebook users accessing the site via Opera Mini.

Opera Mini users are accessing local news as much as 300 percent more than in 2014.

Read more at Footprint 2 Africa.

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