Norwegian web browser developer Opera Software has announced plans to invest $100 million in Africa’s digital economy over the next two years, as the company aims to consolidate its most robust market.
The investment will be used to develop artificial intelligence that delivers Africans customized and localized content, while continued efforts will be made to reduce data costs by around 90 percent.
The goal is also to grow African businesses in partnership with African tech companies. It is envisaged that Opera will bundle in third-party services that provide mobile payment and improved data features through the web browser.
“Africa is a very important market for Opera. Nine of the top 20 Opera Mini user countries are from Africa,” said Richard Monday, the Opera Africa vice president, according to Techcentral. “We aim to invest heavily in Africa, to build a local platform and grow with local business partners.”
Opera mini is the most widely used mobile browser on the African continent, and in November last year the company reached an impressive milestone with 100 million active users across its portfolio of products, according to the Opera blog.
The reason for Opera’s wide adoption in Africa is down to tools integrated within the development of the browser that deliver low-cost data usage through compression technologies, allowing Africans with varying Internet speeds and cost considerations to easily access the Internet via Opera on their mobile devices.
The increased investment will build on those benefits while increasing the localized content available via the web browser in Africa, with 47 local publishers covering 107 websites partnering with Opera on the initiative.
“To bring more first-time Internet users without the fear of high data costs or lack of locally relevant content, Opera is investing 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,” a statement from the company explained, according to TheGuardian.
“Opera users in Africa will get fully personalized and localized content delivered to their browser, the entry point for their Internet experience, while the data usage can be reduced by up to 90 percent.”
Opera’s investment in their most devoted international market will also lead to job creation, with 100 new personnel set to be hired on the continent during the next three years.
Opera Software currently have offices in the South African cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, and they will be opening new offices in Lagos, Nigeria, and Nairobi, Kenya, giving them an additional presence in major markets within East and West Africa.
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