Opera continues to be the leading Mobile Browser in Kenya – Why?

According to StatCounter GlobalStats, Opera is the leading Mobile Browser in Kenya commanding close to 55% share, followed by Chrome at just below 40% share. Safari, Samsung, UC Browser and the others lag behind. (Full Stats Here). See the export below from the site:

Mobile Browsers Kenya May 2019

From the graph, you can see Opera and Chrome stats from May last year. In the times Chrome’s share rises, Opera’s falls. It is their market… But why is Opera still the leading mobile browser in Kenya, despite the fact that Chrome comes pre-installed in all Android device, and despite the issues most of you reading this article have with it. From:

  • uncontrollable ads
  • to very aggressive compression that render certain sites useless?

A recently released report by Opera titled State of the Mobile Web 2019 by Opera has a couple of interesting statistics and facts that perhaps will help understand why Opera seems to lead market share.

Opera was the browser most of us interacted with with out first phones that could access the internet. Today, very few phones have it pre-installed. Most people as it seems, opt to download the app(s) after setting up their new phones.

On Play Store, the following are apps from Opera:

  • Opera with Free VPN
  • Opera Mini – Fast Browser
  • Opera News
  • Opera Mini Browser Beta
  • Opera Touch: the fast, new web browser
  • Opera browser beta

It is confusing AF on which app you should install. They are all browsers, apart (maybe) from Opera News. I have tried almost all of them, and I never understand how people withstand the annoying adverts.

Last year, I wrote an article: Ads and Notifications Make the Opera News and Browser Apps Annoying and Unusable. Nothing has changed to date. But people keep using the services. Which makes me wonder what demographic of people prefer using Opera and why.

According to the report linked above, 9 out of 10 people use a web browser on their mobile phone every day. Most people use their Opera browsers for Social Media, followed by Search, Entertainment, and News.

On Opera Mini in Quarter 1 of 2019, 31% of the browsing sessions are to access social media platform domains, with Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram being the most popular ones. Which is crazy! These are platforms that have their standalone apps. Why would people use the browser – Opera Mini of all browsers – to access the sites?

In Kenya and Ghana, 40% of Opera’s user base use the browsers to access Facebook. Which could make sense given the Facebook app on Android is annoying. But there’s Facebook Lite? And there’s lite apps for all these other social media sites they’re going to the browser for….

Why (I think) people choose Opera Browsers:

  • Phone Specs – Most phones may not have the capacity to handle huge demanding apps
  • Storage – Opera Mini is just 9MB to install
  • Performance – Opera browsers are sort of lite, and respond faster, and most people who install them have devices that may have RAM and Storage challenges
  • Adverts – When you open Play Store, YouTube, or just browse the web, the number of Opera ads you’ll see telling you to install Opera are uncountable.
  • Data Saving – Opera’s compression algorithms are insane. My site for example won’t load so much info on Opera’s Extreme mode. And people want to save data.
  • Lack of Awareness on Lite Apps – As it seems, people are still not aware that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have lite versions that load faster, and save them data. This is why most of the traffic on Opera Mini is on Social Media domains.

Opera reports that people spend at least 30 minutes every day on Opera Mini, and that the browser has saved over 100 Million dollars in Mobile Data, with Kenyan users saving close to 3 Million dollars yearly. The report also outlines that 1GB of data would last 9 times longer on Opera’s Extreme service than on browsers without data compression.

The cost of data per Gigabyte Germany and India vs African countries
Check Page 21 of report.

From the screenshot above, data is still very expensive in Africa compared to India, and this is definitely a reason people will opt for data saving browsers like Opera Mini. Opera is arguing that if 1GB will last one 3 days without compression, but 28 days with their compression technique, a user will be saving close to 30 dollars every month from using their service.

Will Opera ever fall?

Yes. Of course. Or maybe…

  1. Most people still believe that to access the internet they need Opera. I’ve interacted with people who know only Opera Mini as a means for anything internet-y. But this will change, slowly. People will continue to learn that the internet is more than just Opera Mini and WhatsApp.
  2. Phones are getting better, and will handle apps like Chrome and other Browsers like Microsoft Edge much better. Currently, many people fear phones will ‘hang’ when they use Chrome, but as cheap phones get better, this won’t be an issue.
  3. Lite apps may make people start using apps over browsers.
  4. Data prices continue to fall year on year. And whenever people will experience the full experience of a site versus the limited compressed version on Opera’s services, they might opt for the full version.
  5. Opera’s user experience is annoying as hell. There’s notifications every second and adverts and crypto noise, and it is a bad experience that hopefully many more people will surely opt out of slowly. Maybe.

But we don’t know what will happen in the future. Opera’s main browser (I guess the one with VPN) has seen 40% growth in Africa in the last year. Opera says they have over 119 Million active monthly users of their products in Africa. Their news app according to the report is the most recognizable News App in Kenya, and its users spend 50% in-app time watching videos. Perhaps they’ll continue to grow. Perhaps there’s a huge market for the type of content they push, and the adverts.

For me, the stupid gossip news, extremely annoying ads, and clickbaity ways of getting consumer interaction will continue making me not recommend or advocate for their apps. What about you… Which browser do you use, and why?



  1. I use UC browser and Mi browser, I actually open your blog on Mi Browser it’s very convenient.
    Otherwise Siri and Chrome are my basic Browsing apps.
    Opera mini is so 2012 ? especially their ads and News that are fake.

  2. Surprising report indeed. I’ve just never understood how on this internet-y day and age someone can opt to use Opera browsers on their phones/computers. The ads are such a nuisance AF!

    I love Chrome, and it powers everything I do online. Never used any other browser. Firefox is too heavy for me, as well as Edge, which I regard as very slow for my digital needs.

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