Opera Mini gains fans in Africa

Usage of Opera Software’s mobile-phone Web browser, Opera Mini, is picking up quickly in Africa, having increased by 180 percent from January to September of this year.

“Month after month, we have witnessed our usage numbers in Africa skyrocket,” Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner said in a news statement. “This tells us that change is underway, and more people now have the ability to access the Internet from locations that were previously unthinkable.”

The findings on the level of usage are contained in Opera’s latest “State of the Mobile Web” report, which was released last week and focuses on the African continent.

Globally, 19 million people used Opera Mini in September 2008, a 341 percent increase from September 2007, the statement read.

As of last month, Egypt had overtaken Germany as the world’s tenth-largest user of Opera Mini, and South Africa remains firmly within the top 10, currently ranked sixth.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, Africa’s mobile industry is expanding at nearly double the global rate. Personal computer penetration remains low across the continent, which results in many Africans turning to their mobile phones to get online.

MTN Uganda is the only mobile service provider in the country to offer Opera Mini to its clients, having signed an agreement with the Norwegian software developer in August.

As of March, there were 175,568 active mobile Internet users in Uganda.

IDG News