Opera Browser in Africa

I just had the great pleasure to meet Rolf Assev, the Chief Strategy Officer for Opera Software. Opera is an Oslo-based company whose slick & lightweight web browser most Nokia users know and love. 

Here are some notes I scribbled down from Rolf’s talk in Cape Town this morning:

In Africa, the ratio of mobile subscribers to fixed lines is 15:1, mobile penetration was at 28% in 2008 & Africa is the fastest growing market

The mobile phone is the “PC of Africa”

Opera Mini has 1,5 million users in South Africa

The market wants cheaper phones 10 – 20 usd, need to have internet access
Because operators are charging per KB, reading 10 pages of The Times online could quickly cost more than buying the entire newspaper’s print edition

Opera Mini was built in response to high costs of mobile data in Africa (!)

Because Opera Mini compresses websites before delivery to the mobile phone, 40 million African Opera Mini users are saving 9 billion USD/year in data charges.
Despite this knock on operators’ revenue, more people are using the internet because it’s more affordable, and Opera Mini has moves approx $2 billion worth of data traffic per year

Top 5 African countries by number of users:

1. SA (each user views on average 357 pages pm)
2. Nigeria (476 p/user/m)
3. Kenya (514 p/user/m)
4. Egypt (302 p/user/m)
5. Libya (385 p/user/m)

In one year, page views increased 308%
Unique users increased 74% 
Overall data usage increased 124 %

(You can see stats for the rest of the world (and some interesting observations) here: http://www.webaddict.co.za/2009/11/25/top-10-mobile-sites-south-africa/

The most used websites in South Africa are:


Most used websites in Nigeria:


Mobile phones are the best way of bridging the digital divide in Africa and to deliver education, information & news, remote medical service, alert services etc

Opera facts: 
since 1994, 11 offices, HQ in oslo
>750 employees, 500_ engineers & tech support,
150+ million downloads of the desktop browser
1 million weekly downloads of opera mini
100+ million opera mobile browser installs

Story about a guy in Nigeria who “sold internet” to people. He’d charge them $20 to ‘internet enable’ their phones and tell them to come back the next day. He’d then simply install Opera Mini for them, which takes a few minutes and is free. 

p.s. If you’re not running Opera Mini (or the very slick Opera Mobile 10 Beta) on your Series 60 or Windows Mobile phone you can get it here: www.opera.com

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