Recent figures by Opera Software Company shows that Nigerians are first in Africa and fifth largest users of Opera Mini browsers in the world. With this latest ranking, Nigeria has surpassed more tech-savvy countries such as the United States and China.
According to StatCounter, internet browsing from mobile phones in Nigeria grew by over 25% between October 2010 and October 2011. In the same period, according to StatCounter, internet browsing from desktops decreased by more than 25%.
Nigeria has an estimated 93 million mobile phone users, and is ranked as having the largest mobile subscriber base in Africa. A key information in the StatCounter data is that Opera Mini browser is the most popular mobile internet browser in Nigeria. About 90% of Nigerian users of mobile internet browsers use Opera Mini. The upsurge in internet browsing from mobile phones among Nigerians has been explained as due to the fact that accessing web content from a mobile browser is much cheaper than accessing the same content for a desktop.
Nigeria was first listed among the world's top ten users of Opera in March 2009. The growth of Opera Mini usage in Nigeria is breathtaking, increasing by 1,150 per cent between July 2010 to October 2011. One of the factors in Nigeria's advantage is her population, now estimated at over 160 million, with a massive bulge in the 15-35 age-group.
The average mobile web user in Nigeria views about 345 pages every month, and uses his mobile browser almost exclusively for accessing social networking sites and for emailing services. The most popular sites for users of mobile browsers in Nigeria are Facebook, Google and Yahoo. Opera Software says it's mobile browsers are flexible. Opera Mini may be used on more than 3,000 different mobile-phone models, from ordinary feature phones to Smart phones. Nigerians agree on this point.
Professor S. Ajayi, Dean of Sciences at Caleb University, Lagos says; "Using a mobile browser is cheaper, faster and very convenient especially when you are on the move. Most Nigerians use the internet for social networking and email services. Mobile browsers are exceptionally adapted for such functions."
When asked why he thinks Nigerians have taken to mobile browsing so readily, Tolu, a Nigerian and internet entrepreneur says, though millions of young Nigerians use the internet regularly, most use it only superficially, checking updates and messages on their Facebook page and looking up latest email messages.
In spite of his views, Tolu thinks mobile browsers will continue to grow in popularity, especially among young Nigerians, whose notions of essential services are dictated by peer fashion trends.
Related stories: Video - Building broadband in Nigeria