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The world’s largest online video platform boasts over a billion users watching hundreds of millions of hours everyday. Countries with limited data connectivity however are still largely untapped markets.
To help remedy this, YouTube launched its offline feature in South Africa today at AfricaCom 2015. Using the YouTube app, this would enable people to save clips of cats getting vacuumed or epic documentaries onto their mobile devices. Saved videos can then be played back without an internet connection for up to 48 hours.
The feature has been available in India, Indonesia and the Philippines since last year and was introduced in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana earlier this week. According to ITWeb, YouTube’s Heather Thompson Rivera recently confirmed the launch in South Africa.
In a recent blog post, Google product manager Matthew Darby, explained that while Africa has a fast-growing smartphone adoption rate, access to high-speed, affordable data remains a big challenge.
“In response, we’ve been working on ways to lessen the demands of speed and data for people using our products in places where there are challenges to access,” he wrote. Music videos will not be available to download.
Starting today, the majority of YouTube videos in these countries will become available for people to view offline, from movies to local comedy and unboxings. Making these popular videos available for offline playback will help people move past the challenges of data connection, speed and cost to enjoy a smooth, buffer-free version of their favourite content.
Darby assures us that offline playback is just a start. “We working on even more ways to make video content more affordable and accessible to our growing base of mobile users in the region,” he wrote.
Extending online services to markets that lack sufficient infrastructure is a growing trend in Africa. Facebook’s Internet.org, which aims to provide people with basic online services, is active in most of the continent’s countries. It most recently partnered with the Praekelt foundation to allow “social change organisations” to extend their services on the Free Basics platform. This would enable people access services on the web for free.