Jørgen Arnesen, EVP Mobile at Opera
In 2016, the UN declared internet access a human right. Five years on however, only 39% of Africans have internet access and many have yet to experience the benefits of connectivity.
The pandemic has thrown into focus that for many people, internet access is not a luxury but a lifeline. It enables life to carry on: families to spend time together, school to continue, people to log on and work, businesses to adapt and keep economies afloat. Perhaps most importantly, it enables the spread of vital public health information to keep communities safe.
Unfortunately, where you live is a huge factor in whether you have access to the internet or not. In sub-Saharan Africa, the price of mobile data is the most expensive in the world, on average costing $6.44 per gigabyte (GB) of data: three times more than in Western Europe. In South Africa, an individual can expect to be paying 7 USD per GB: over four times as much as in Ghana, over twice as much as in Kenya and 3.5 times more than in Nigeria.
For some in Africa, 1 GB of data can cost up to a staggering 16% of monthly income. These regional disparities in the cost of data are making access to the internet impossible for some.
Democratizing data is even more important when you consider its future potential. Eight-hundred million Africans are still without internet access, yet in sub-Saharan Africa, mobile usage is more widespread than electricity. The African continent hosts the highest percentage of entrepreneurs among working-age adults and the youngest population of any region in the world.
If data were made affordable, there would be no limits for South Africa’s tech-savvy movers and shakers. It would create jobs and spur new businesses. It would provide new routes to education and enable under-resourced schools to provide students with affordable or free online content. All of this would inspire the changemakers and spur the home-grown technical innovation necessary to realize the full potential of some of the world’s highest-growth economies.
At Opera, we know that it’s only through connecting that people learn, innovate, and create the bold solutions that make the world a better place. That’s why, as we celebrate fifteen years of Opera Mini in Africa, we’re launching a data giveaway competition, in which Opera will award 150 people with 150 GB of free data. To get involved, we’re asking Opera users to share their experiences of how Opera Mini has helped them reach new levels of connection, from setting up a business, speaking with loved ones, or starting a new educational journey. Like and comment on Opera’s post on Facebook or Instagram, using #CelebrateWithOpera, and explain why Opera is important to you.
The competition marks Opera’s sustained commitment to getting more people in Africa online. Whether it’s through up to 3 GB of monthly data for Opera Mini users, the investment in long-term local infrastructure to drive down the costs of data, or the rolling-out of free data campaigns – we’re proud to continue helping millions of people overcome connectivity barriers with our free apps and initiatives.
While we’ve operated in Africa for more than fifteen years, the acceleration of our strategic investments in the region started in 2017, when Opera announced the plan to invest $100 million USD over the following two years. Through these investments we’ve helped to speed internet adoption in Africa, strengthen the internet ecosystem with local partners and foster new startups. Opera has never invested more on the continent than we are right now as part of our Africa First strategy.
Next year, we have ambitious plans to roll out a series of impact projects to address data inequity. We recognize that sustained growth in digital inclusion requires a dialogue between the private sector, policymakers and citizens to better understand the barriers to and benefits of connectivity. The goal of democratizing data is still far from achieved, and we look forward to connecting even more people in 2022.Competition terms & conditions for participation are available here.