African mobile users have spent more than 4 million hours reading books on their mobile phones in 2018. This is according to Opera and Worldreader, a global non-profit organization that provides people in the developing world with free access to a library of digital books via e-readers and mobile phones
This milestone represents an increase of 32 percent from the same period last year. Nigeria, South Africa, and Ivory Coast record highest mobile and online reading populations in 2018.
In 2015, Opera and Worldreader partnered with the aim of bringing free e-books to millions of mobile users in Africa through Opera Mini mobile browser. The technology behind Opera Mini compresses text and images to 10 percent of their original size, reducing data consumption and the cost of data on a mobile phone and allowing users to spend more time reading and downloading their favorite books when using Worldreader.
“We are very happy to contribute to literacy in Africa with our Opera Mini browser as we give mobile users access to Worldreader’s vast library,” said Jan Standal, VP of Product Marketing and Communications at Opera. “Since we started this partnership we have added more than nine million new readers in Africa who now enjoy books from different genres such as romance, adventure, and education, among others.”
According to the latest report of Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA), “The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2018”, at the end of last year, there were more than 444 million unique mobile subscribers and 250 million smartphone users. These numbers represent a big opportunity to bring reading to millions in the Sub-Saharan region through technology.
“We know that mobile phone affordability and the convenience of owning one are two big reasons why we are seeing more and more people accessing our e-book collection through their mobile devices in Africa”, said Colin Mcelwee, Co-Founder at Worldreader. “Our partnership with Opera Mini is a perfect match, with Opera browser being the number one choice for mobile users across Africa, it provides an incredible opportunity to get people reading.”
A study conducted by Worldreader, called Reading in the Mobile Era, also showed that 65 percent of mobile readers in Africa are men while 35 percent are women. However, women tend to spend 11.5 minutes reading on average while men read 6.5 minutes per session, making women more frequent readers.
Moreover, the report notes that African mobile readers prefer books related to love and romance, especially those that come from local authors and publishers.