By Tare Youdeowei
THE developer of popular mobile browser, Opera, has made public its plan to invest $100 million, the equivalent of N30 billion, over the next two years to facilitate the growth of Africa’s digital economy.
The company, which aims to speed up internet adoption in Africa and strengthen the internet ecosystem with local partners, made this known at a press briefing in Lagos, yesterday, where it also declared readiness to set up shop in Lagos in the next three weeks, increase awareness of an affordable internet experience and spend between 30 to 40 billion on infrastructure in Nigeria.
Speaking on the company’s goal, Richard Monday, Vice President Africa, Opera Software said; “Africa is a very important market for Opera. Nine of the top 20 Opera Mini user countries are from Africa, as such we aim to invest heavily in Africa, 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 Africa’s internet ecosystem.
“We are working on providing infrastructure, improving data affordability via data compression, speedy content delivery, as well as value added services like e-commerce, to mention a few. Our key point is compressing data so it works on pretty much any phone. As it stands, 35 million people still need to be reached.”
On value added services, Song Lin, Chief Operating Officer, Opera Software, disclosed; “Opera is seeking local partners to integrate value-added services, mobile payment and data bundling into its browser product. This will grant consumers access to quality content and services, giving them the ability to transact easily on their mobile devices. 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.”
Speaking on the browser’s latest Artificial Intelligence, AI, system, Monday continued; “Opera is 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 data usage can be reduced as much as 90 percent. Opera is now working with over 47 top tier African publishers covering 107 web sites on this initiative.”
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.