South Africa leads the continent in having the highest number of mobile application usage, according to a new report titled “State of the Mobile Web: Africa 2016.” The report observes that a third of the South African population uses mobile applications, followed by 31 percent of Ghanaians, 28 percent of Nigerians, 19 percent of Kenyans, and 18 percent of Ugandans.
“Ghana is Opera Mini’s most mature Android market with 73 percent of the users on Android. It is also the only sub-Saharan market where the iPhone mobile operating system (iOS) features in the top ten platforms for Opera Mini web browser users,” reads the report.
In 2016, more smartphones were shipped to the continent than feature phones, which is a first for Africa. Lower prices and the demand for innovative products have contributed to the rise of smartphones. According to the International Data Corporation, there were 89 percent of smartphones on Android operating system shipped to Africa last year and 45.1 percent of them were priced below $100.
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This is consistent with another report by the McKinsey Global Institute that predicts that smartphone penetration will increase from 18 percent in 2015 to 27 percent by 2020. It further observes that faster internet and mobile phone penetration are likely to have a transformative effect in sectors such as banking, retail, power, healthcare, and education.
In 2015, African users accessed local content through the Opera Mini application on mobile phones 300 percent more than in 2014. Popular websites include, Naij and the Punch in Nigeria; EWN, SuperSport, and the Daily Sun in South Africa and the Standard and Daily Nation in Kenya. 37 percent of the continent’s users mostly use Opera Mini for social reasons.
Opera Mini Android
According to the report, the user-base for the Opera Mini Android software grew by 2,284 percent between 2016 and 2013. Opera Mini is ranked fifth among the top 10 free mobile applications on Google Play and rated third among free communication applications, after Facebook and WhatsApp.
“The high demand for Opera Mini [on] the continent has partly to do with the its native Android look-and-feel which is key to African connectivity. The other reasons [include] the company’s partnerships with manufacturers such as Tecno and Samsung.”
Opera Android sub-Saharan Market Share
The market share of Opera Android mobile software is greatest in Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya.
Nigeria’s internet traffic on mobile currently stands at 76 percent, making it the most mobilized country in the world. Opera users on Mini and Max Android mobile applications in 2016 saved the country $280 million in data costs. Seventy percent of the 16 million people who accessed Facebook on mobile last year did it using Opera’s browser. Instagram is the most data-intensive application with Opera Max in Nigeria and android users make up 42 percent of overall Opera Mini Android mobile application users.
The top mobile browsers in South Africa are Opera (53.1 percent), Chrome (17.92 percent), and BlackBerry (7.85 percent). South Africa has an active online user base with 59 percent of people using the Internet daily.
“Android users make up 50 percent of overall Opera Mini users in Kenya. Citizens in the East African state are some of Opera’s highest data users across Africa. Opera users on Mini and Max Android mobile applications in Kenya saved the country $ 116 million in data cost in 2016.”
The report acknowledges that there are challenges to increasing the user-base of Opera Mini in Africa, including high data costs, waste of background data, and limited network capacity.