Africa’s mobile growth: Opera publishes its State of Mobile report

opera africa mobile phone

Norwegian internet company Opera isn’t quite as well known in the desktop browser space, at least in terms of usage figures. Globally, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still command the lion’s share of users’ internet tabs.

When it comes to mobile browsers though, the firm has historically had a huge following in Africa.

The company this week published its State of Mobile Web Report for Africa 2016, and with it, a slew of insights into Africa’s voracious mobile device and web usage using its software and services as a lens. So, what are some of the key takeaways?

More than half of Africans use Opera Mini

Although around 25% of Opera Mini users in Africa use Android devices, the company claims that 58% of mobile users on the continent use its browser. Around 16.8% use Google Chrome, and 7.5% use whatever default Android browser installed.

opera top mobile browsers africa sep 15 sep 16

On a country-by-country basis, Opera owns 71% of Nigeria’s mobile market, 53% of South Africa’s and 86% of Kenya’s. Ghana claims the title as the country with the highest percentage of Mini users on Android, at 73%.

For South Africans, Google’s Chrome (17.9%) and surprisingly, BlackBerry (7.85%) round up the top three.

Africa’s hunger for video is growing

It’s a phenomenon we’ve seen on the major social networks in the western world, but Africa’s appetite for video is also growing. According to the report, visits to video website using Opera Mini has increased by 36% since 2012. That doesn’t seem like a large jump, but notably, “42% of South Africans watch video content on their mobile devices”.

58% of mobile users on the continent use Opera on their mobile phones

South Africa also ranks second for most active YouTube countries on the continent, with 20% of its Mini users visiting the site at least once a month.

The company notes that 37% of all visits to all websites on Opera Mini is to a social network, while 10% is claimed by video sites.

Africa’s mobile data usage is ballooning

As justified by its growing video and social needs, Africa’s data consumption has also spiked in 2016. Opera notes that since 2014, “average monthly data usage by Opera Mini users in Africa has increased by 171%”.

Interestingly, South Africans and Nigerians are not the largest data consumers on the continent. Instead, Ghana, Kenya, the Seychelles and Mauritius all used more than 160MB per month per Opera user in 2016.

africa mobile data usage monthly opera 2016

Nigeria can still lay claim to being the most “mobilised” country in the world, with 76% of its traffic sent and received by a mobile device (South Africa is second). Additionally, South African Opera users use more than 121MB per person per month.

“By 2021 there is set to be 13-fold increase in mobile data traffic in Africa,” the company explains.

Nigeria really loves Facebook, South Africa really to chat

Nigeria’s appetite for Facebook is extraordinary. 70% of the country’s 16-million Facebook users accesses the social network on mobile devices via Opera Mini.

South Africans however seem to enjoy using ecommerce and news apps on their mobile devices. According to Opera Max data, the country most enjoys using Chrome, Facebook, Skype and Truecaller, but also OLX and News24.

36% of the country’s active online user base visits an instant messaging app every day, while 59% of SA users “go online more than once a day”.

You can read the full State of Mobile report on Africa 2016 here.

Andy Walker, former editor


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