American-made vehicles are huge, powerful, and quite beastly when it comes to doing the job. I mean they have superior power and torque throughout the drivetrain. However, all that power comes at a great cost to your wallet. For instance, they are expensive to acquire, maintain, and fuel compared to their Japanese counterparts; the Toyotas.

Speaking of Toyota, when sited behind its wheels, you will feel for certain the car is underpowered when compared to its Ford’s equivalent. Yet they are still reliable and will get you from point A to B safely. The comfort level is also good, but most importantly in this context, the cost of acquiring, maintaining, and fueling the vehicle is much more affordable compared to American guzzlers.

It is little wonder why the car in front of you when driving around Kenyan roads is always a Toyota. The same goes for other countries across Africa, and I imagine they’re quite many even in the ‘guzzler’s bedroom’ roads in America.

Opera browser is doing to Africa what Toyota has been doing

For Kenyan consumers, we have come a long way with regards to internet speeds and affordability. Personally, I joined the netizens community full throttle when I bought the Motorola L7i XXX back in 2008 after a friend introduced me to the Opera Mini.

With the Opera Mini, my data bundles on the Safaricom telecom network had more mileage per MBs than when browsing without it. All of a sudden, I was no longer afraid of all my airtime credit being swallowed by enabling my mobile data once my small bundle package gets depleted. Back then, Safaricom will continue billing you out of data, and within a matter of seconds, credit remaining will all be wiped clean (depleted).

The cost of the internet back then was so high, most people had to make do with going to the cyber cafe to check on their emails. There was little to no social media activities until Opera Mini arrived on the scene. All over sudden, thanks to mobile carrier ISP internet connection, people started turning to their phones to consume online information.

I strongly believe without Opera Mini, the digital gap between Kenya and industrialized nations would have remained extremely wide up to very recently. Right now, the cost of internet has come down quite a bit, and the speed of connection has improved tremendously.

Facebook’s success in Kenya rode on the back of Opera Mini

Though I did join Facebook in 2007, well I first joined MySpace first, then later in the year joined Facebook, I didn’t see a lot of my peers in the platform until 2010. And they were all using Opera Mini on their (not smartphone) but GPRS/Edge enabled mobile phones.

Sometimes I wonder how things would have panned out were it not for Opera Mini, and this is what I imagine. Mobile internet would have waited until the proliferation of smartphones into the market. Personally, that would have been until 2013, when I first owned my first smartphone. Social media would not have been easily accessible, as one had to wait until they are in front of a computer to go online.

Education for college students, especially those relying on HELB will mean we all have been forced into stretched and under-equipped libraries at our public learning institutions. Don’t get me started how a university can have less than 10 books on shelves on a given subject, yet the same book is supposed to be used by over 300 students. With Opera Mini, you could affordably go online to do some readings.

Where the situation currently stands

Admittedly, with the cost of internet connection going down, speeds increasingly tremendously, and more people being able to afford smartphones with beefy specs. Most people are now exploring their mobile browser options, and Opera is slowly being kicked to the curve.

Chrome for one has the best features in terms of speed and user interface. These days most people can afford to use such a beefy browser because the devices they are using are equally up to the task.

However in the old days, before 2010, they were what I would say the American guzzlers, and Opera Mini, in particular, was the Toyota and Nissans, without which most people would not be able to afford a car. The same way I believe without Opera Mini, most people in Kenya, Africa, and some parts of Asia would not be regular participants in the cyberspace activities.Chrome browser makes up 46.5% of mobile browser shares in Kenya followed by Opera Mini at 46.4%

StatCounter: Oct 2018 – Oct 2019 Mobile Browser Market Share