Opera, the guys who run Opera Mini, the most popular mobile browser in Africa have announced plans to invest $100 million (Ksh 10.3 billion) over the next two years in a move expected to facilitate the growth of African digital economy and maintain market share before Vivaldi, its competition grows.
Opera is working with over 47 top tier African publishers covering 107 web sites and seeking local partners to integrate value-added services, mobile payment and data bundling into its browser product to grant consumers access to quality content and services, giving them the ability to transact more easily on their mobile devices.
“Africa is a very important market for Opera. Nine of the top 20 Opera Mini user countries are from Africa,” says Richard Monday, Vice President of Africa, Opera Software. “We aim to invest heavily in Africa, to build a local platform and grow with the local business partners. This platform will expand the user base for content providers, e-commerce businesses, operators, OEM’s and others to strengthen the African internet ecosystem.”
The privately held company, headquartered in Oslo, Norway will also add other range of services over the next 12 months to create a content and services hub that will provide African users with a truly unique experience. This investment is expected to speed up internet adoption in Africa and strengthen the internet ecosystem with local partners.
According to a GSMA Intelligence report, the biggest consumer barriers to internet adoption in most African countries are the lack of digital skills and awareness, locally relevant content and affordability. To bring more first-time internet users without the fear of high data costs or lack of local relevant content, Opera invests in developing a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence engine for smartphone users that will ensure content discovery is at the heart of the browser. Opera users in Africa will get fully personalised and localised content delivered to their browser, the entry point for their internet experience while the data usage can be reduced up to 90%.
For the past five years, the Opera Mini browser has been a key facilitator in bringing more than half of Africa’s internet population online by featuring tools for lowering data costs. Recently, the company celebrated 100 million monthly users in Africa and is now focusing on making the next generation of web browsers to cater the needs of African internet users. Bringing fast and affordable internet access for all has always been Opera’s mission. To grow together with the African internet ecosystem.
Currently, Opera has operations in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa and is expanding with new offices in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya to support business and product development. The plan is to hire around 100 people for these offices over the next three years. This might help beat Vivaldi.