Society | Dec 12

A Chinese-owned News App Is Taking Africa by Storm

Opera News app is one of the most popular personalized news aggregators in African countries. Yet so far it has largely escaped attention.

Opera News shows news articles, from both local and world media, and also serves as a microblogging platform for text posts, photos, and videos created specifically for the app.

While Opera mostly aims to entertain users, offering content showing recipes, lifestyle articles, information about celebrities and sports, it also serves as a crucial source of news.

Originally a Norwegian company, Opera gained prominence through its Opera browser, which compressed websites for mobile phones, reducing data consumption – a particularly attractive feature in lower-income countries with soaring data prices. The app, released in 2018, quickly surged in popularity, hitting 1 million downloads within the first four weeks and surpassing 100 million downloads to date.

Despite its widespread use, Opera has not drawn much attention from the China-watching community. One of the reasons may be that it self-promotes as a Norwegian-based company. However, it is evident that, in reality, it is a Chinese-owned project.

In 2016, parts of the Norwegian company, namely its web browser and the brand name, were acquired by a Chinese conglomerate led by Qihoo 360, a mobile security app, and Beijing Kunlun Tech, a mobile games developer. The remaining part of the company, which changed its name to Otello, continues to focus on advertising and apps. ...continue reading


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