Matthew HughesFormer TNW Reporter
Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twi Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twitter.
The Norway-based tech icon Opera is huge in Africa, with almost 100 million people using its mobile and desktop products across the continent.
Recognizing this, Opera is investing $100 million (30 billion Nigerian naira) in Africa over the next two years, aiming to speed up Internet adoption and strengthen the local Internet ecosystem.
The company is also overhauling its browser product with African consumers in mind, and has partnered with several major African publishers on a news curation system.
On the browser front, Opera plans to add value-added services to its product, including data bundling and mobile payments.
The latter is pretty exciting. Africa is a pioneer when it comes to mobile payments, with companies like M-Pesa having widespread appeal. It’d be interesting how integrating that – or a rival service – into a browser would work.
Opera hasn’t listed the full range of services it intends to include in its browser, but says that it’ll be rolled out over the next 12 months, and will “provide African users with a truly unique experience.”
The company is also investing in a state-of-the-art AI engine that offers curated, personal, and localized news content. The goal behind this is to bring online news to more people, without the fear of running up high data costs, or a lack of relevant content.
To build this news service, Opera is working with 47 major African publishers in this initiative, covering 107 sites, although it hasn’t disclosed which ones.
This service – which hasn’t been named yet – has data compression technology baked in, similar found to that on Opera Mobile. The company says this reduces the amount of data used by up to 90-percent.
The news comes at a time when Opera is doubling-down on Africa. The Norwegian company already has offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and plans to open new facilities in Nigeria and Kenya. These will see 100 new jobs added to its global workforce.
It’s also launched its first nationwide TV commercial, which is airing in South Africa and Kenya, with Nigeria soon to follow.
This is a smart strategy from Opera. Africa is home to an ever-growing ascendant and tech-savvy middle class. By catering to their needs, and to the realities of network infrastructure in the continent, Opera will continue to be a major player in Africa for the foreseeable future.
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