Google Launches Data-Light YouTube Mobile App For South Africans With Slow Internet

Written by Peter Pedroncelli


A specialized data-light version of the the Google-owned online video service, called YouTube Go, has been made available to South African users through the launch of a mobile app in the country.

The U.S.-based company announced that the YouTube Go app, which is a data-light version of the original app, is now available for people in South Africa to download, according to TimesLive.

Over 75 percent of all website traffic in South Africa comes from mobile devices, according to Qwertydigital.

This means that apps and websites which are designed specifically for mobile users will gain more traction than others that are primarily developed with a desktop audience in mind.

YouTube Go has been custom-designed with the typical African user in mind, and slow mobile internet speeds coupled with high mobile penetration are responsible for its functionality.

The specially-designed version of the online video platform allows users with slow internet to preview and save videos in various resolutions to watch later offline, saving data costs and providing a better experience regardless of speeds, according to Quartz.

The users can then watch the saved videos at a later stage without the need for an internet connection.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. Photo – AP – Reed Saxon

In addition to being data-light, the YouTube Go app aims to be local and relevant to a South African audience.

The app gives users a home screen that shows trending and popular videos nearby, allowing them to see the latest content that the people around them are watching and sharing, according to Businesstech.

Data-light YouTube launched in Nigeria first

YouTube Go is now available in South Africa, but Nigeria was the first African market to have access to the data-light mobile application.

The app was made available for download in Nigeria a year ago, according to AllAfrica.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai and his team visited Nigeria in July last year to unveil a selection of products designed specifically for people in the West African nation, and one of those was a YouTube version built for Nigerians with slow internet speeds. Nigerians could download the app from September.

Nigeria was the second country to receive YouTube Go functionality after India, where the app was first developed and released, and was a boost for a West African nation that enjoys video content thanks to the popularity of sports such as soccer and a growing Nollywood film industry.

Nigeria has over 100 million internet users, with 93 million accessing content online thanks to mobile devices, but data is expensive and average internet speeds are very slow, according to Akamai.

The YouTube Go app is available for South Africans to download in the Google Play Store and will come pre-installed on all Android 8.1 (Go Edition) phones.