Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Opera, the developer of the most popular mobile browser, Opera Mini, is to invest $100 million (N30 billion) in Africa over the next two years to facilitate the growth of African digital economy.
Interestingly, Nigeria is expected to get between $30 million and $40 million of the investment within the period.
The impact of this investment would be seen in the rise of Internet adoption in Nigeria and other part of Africa and it is expected to strengthen the continent’s online ecosystem with local partners.
Nigeria’s Internet subscription currently fluctuates around 90 million, the largest on the continent.
Making the announcement in Lagos, yesterday, the Vice President, Africa, Richard Monday, said Africa was on its way to transform itself into digital continent with the rapid adoption of mobile Internet.
Monday said 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. He disclosed that recently, the company celebrated 100 million monthly users in Africa and is now focusing on making the next generation of web browsers to cater for the needs of African Internet users.
The VP Africa informed that Opera currently has 25 million users in Nigeria.
Making reference to a GSMA Intelligence report, Monday noted that the biggest consumer barriers to Internet adoption in most African countries are the lack of digital skills and awareness, locally relevant content and affordability.
Meanwhile, to bring more first-time Internet users without the fear of high data costs or lack of local relevant content, he said 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.
Monday stressed that 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 per cent.
He revealed that Opera is now working with over 47 top tier African publishers covering 107 websites on this initiative.
Giving more insight into the deal, the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Security Officer for Opera, Lin Song, said bringing fast and affordable Internet access for all has always been Opera’s mission.
Song said to grow together with the African Internet ecosystem, Opera is planning to seek local partners to integrate value-added services, mobile payment and data bundling into its browser product.
He said this will grant consumers access to quality content and services, giving them the ability to transact more easily on their mobile devices, adding that the range of services to be added over the next 12 months will create a content and services hub that will provide African users with a truly unique experience.
The VP Africa said the $100 million investment for the Continent will centre on building more infrastructure; creating new businesses; increase local presence and significant marketing investments.
The firm further said that it has also launched its first nationwide TV and radio commercials to announce a faster and more affordable Internet experience with the Opera Mini browser. The commercials are airing in South Africa and Kenya, and will be launching in Nigeria shortly.
Monday said 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, stressing that the plan is to hire around 100 people for these offices over the next three years. The Nigerian office is expected to take off in another three weeks with about 20 people for a start.
From his own perspective, the VP, Head of Marketing and Distribution, Jorgen Arnesen, said Opera’s long term strategy in Nigeria cum Africa will be progressive, which will see it deliver more content infrastructure than just been a browser.