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Opera Launches ‘Hype’ Inbuilt Mobile Browser Chat

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Opera Hype

By Adedapo Adesanya

Norwegian app giant, Opera, has launched Hype, its new dedicated chat service built into the popular Opera Mini browser in Africa.

Set in the pilot market of Kenya, Hype is the first African inspired chat service built into a mobile browser.

With Hype, Opera reimagines the chat experience, with content sharing as a key feature; Opera Mini, with more than 100 million users worldwide, becomes the world’s first mobile browser with an integrated chat service.

With the introduction of Hype in the Opera Mini browser, Opera is rethinking the concept of mobile browsers providing its users with a personalized, engaging browsing experience that enables seamless surfing, chatting and sharing content– without compromising speed or driving increased data consumption.

Speaking on this, the Product Lead for Hype Mr Charles Hamel said, “Chat services and browsers are apps people use every day and feel very personal about.

“With the integration of Hype in Opera Mini, we are not only rethinking what a chat service should be like in 2021 but also changing the very definition of what a mobile browser should be.”

Hype is launching first in Kenya as a pilot market and starting today, users will be able to easily set up their Hype account and begin chatting with secure end-to-end encryption.

This launch is a facet of Opera’s emphasis on investing and growing its digital ecosystem in Africa, with the goal of bringing more people online; since 2018, Opera has grown its user base in Africa by 40 per cent.

Speaking further, Mr Hamel explained that, “Hype was developed first and foremost with African consumers in mind. Today, 40 per cent of the Kenyan population has access to smartphones, with younger generations dominating as 75 per cent of their 47 million inhabitants are under 30 years old.

“With such early adopter demographics at play, there is massive potential for the growth of Hype in Kenya. On top of that, we are also partnering with the leading telecommunication carriers in the country, offering daily free browsing to all Opera Mini users. We believe the combination of these factors will lead to the rapid adoption of Hype in the country.”

This announcement follows similar browser innovation from Opera, which was the first to integrate messenger services as part of their PC browser, in 2019.

Today, its more than 80 million users enjoy the integration of services such as Facebook messenger, Telegram, Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter.

Looking further into the features, Hype infuses new formats like memes and stickers for users to express themselves, often relating to pop culture references and internet content they find. To make this easier and fun, Hype also adds WebSnap, a feature previously known from the Opera desktop browser, that allows users to take snapshots from the web.

Once a websnap is captured, users can edit it by adding colours, text, and emojis, making it fun and entertaining before sharing with others.

It also offers its users a series of stickers created by Kenyan artists Brian Omolo and Lulu Kitololo. These unique collections of stickers reflect everyday expressions used by Kenyans to provide users with a more engaging experience when communicating with others.

“This comes in handy as users no longer need to copy links from websites and switch between apps to share the content they want.

“We are extremely happy to celebrate African culture with Hype and we are very excited with the end result and the collaboration we had with Brian and Lulu.” added Mr Hamel.

“These unique stickers with original designs are something we are very proud of at Opera as we become the first major browser to integrate real African art and pop culture into our products.”

The introduction of Hype in Kenya is part of Opera’s Africa First business strategy, adopted three years ago by the Norwegian company. This strategy consists of four main pillars: 1) Develop products with African consumers in mind; 2) Invest and grow Opera’s digital ecosystem in the African region to bring more people online; 3) Partner with leading global and regional companies; and 4) Employ and collaborate with African colleagues and stakeholders.

The latest population census in Kenya, published in 2019, reported that the country is strongly youthful. Of Kenya’s 47 million inhabitants, 75 per cent are under 30 years old, with children and adolescents representing 63 per cent of the total population.

To this, Mr Hamel said, “Hype was developed first and foremost with African consumers in mind. Today, 40% of the Kenyan population has access to smartphones, with younger generations becoming early adopters of technology.

“With such demographics, there is massive potential for the growth of Hype in Kenya. On top of that, we are also partnering with Safaricom and Airtel, the leading carriers in the country, offering free daily browsing to all Opera Mini users.

“We believe the combination of these factors will lead to the rapid adoption of Hype in the country.”

In the fourth quarter of 2020, the Opera user base reached 380 million monthly active users worldwide, with nearly 150 million monthly active users (MAUs) based in Africa. Since the announcement of Opera’s Africa First strategy in Q1-2018, Opera has grown its user base by 40 per cent in the African region.

This rapid growth in the region gives Opera a unique position to scale its digital ecosystem infrastructure and leverage its brand awareness and recognition. Opera also gives more value to its users by introducing new products and features that truly address the needs of its users locally.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Galaxy Backbone Requires N200bn for Broadband Connectivity

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Galaxy Backbone

By Ahmed Rahma

The Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone (GBB), Mr Mohammad Abubakar, on Thursday, said that the organisation would need not less than N200 billion for broadband connectivity at National Broadband Plan (NBP) recommended speed to the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

He also said that about N35 billion would be needed to provide effective internet service at 2mbps to federal government’s agencies.

He, therefore, sought the assistance of the National Assembly to enact laws that would enable it to operate without bureaucracy.

Mr Abubakar, while speaking in Abuja when the parliament’s joint committee on Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and Cybersecurity were at the agency to carry out its oversight function, said if this law is put in place, Galaxy Backbone would be able to compete with other business outfits providing same services

“To provide connectivity services at a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps to all MDAs nationwide as mandated funding in excess of N35 billion will be required.

“More than N200 billion will be required for broadband connectivity at National Broadband Plan (NBP) recommended speed,” he said.

He noted that, “Despite the state of the art infrastructure, Galaxy is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with private sector companies because of bureaucracy that is peculiar to public sector institutions.

“Despite a 40 per cent increase in Annual Service Contract, the provision fails to match the steep rise in demand for Galaxy’s services.

“Additional increase will be required to keep up with MDAs’ demands and needs,” he said.

Mr Abubakar, however, said that the internal infrastructure readiness issues within some MDAs would continue to affect the quality of services enjoyed by the MDAs.

He also said that the internal IT capacity issues within several MDA affected uptake and utilisation of Galaxy Services, adding that GBB had continued to mitigate the challenge through training.

Mr Abubakar also used the opportunity to ask the national assembly members to assist in making the agency more viable.

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2,181 Savvy Programme Participants Generate 1,278 Business Ideas

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Savvy Programme

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

An initiative put in place by a non-profit organisation called the Savvy Programme is already yielding meaningful results about six months after it was launched.

In its first impact report published recently, the founders of the scheme said the Savvy Fellowship programme has impacted many lives.

Business Post reports that the Savvy initiative was created to train at least 10,000 passionate individuals to build successful impact-driven businesses.

Giving an insight into the programme since its inception, it was disclosed that from August 4, 2020, to February 4, 2021, Savvy received 39,958 applications from individuals interested in the scheme.

However, a total of 3,298 were accepted into the initiative, representing an 8.25 per cent acceptance rate, with 1,121 being female and 2,177 being male.

According to the report, these 3,298 participants (often referred to as Savvy Fellows) were drawn from 122 countries. Already, a total of 2,181 of the Fellows have completed the Savvy program—generating 1,278 business ideas and kickstarting 587 businesses during and after the programme.

The organisers said in the nearest future, Savvy plans to get more mentors for the Savvy programme, train 7,000 more individuals through the scheme and provide Internet allowance for some of the Fellows who need it to participate in the initiative.

The Head of Fellowship Program at Savvy, Mr Chidi Nwaogu, disclosed that for 12 weeks, no matter what stage their venture is, the Savvy programme helps selected Fellows to answer all the relevant questions that they need to kickstart their amazing impact venture, gain early traction, achieve product-market fit, scale into new markets, create jobs, and improve the economy of their nations.

He also said, “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have lost their jobs and are now living in an uncertain world. One and 131 entrepreneurs from 36 countries came together to start Savvy, a global fellowship program equipping these recently unemployed individuals with the necessary knowledge and skill that they need to start their own impact-driven business and succeed as entrepreneurs.”

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Google to Redesign How Online Advertising Works

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google fined

By Ahmed Rahma

The most widely used search engine, Google, has disclosed that it will not build or use alternate tools to track web browsing traffic once it begins phasing out existing technology from its Chrome browser next year, a move that will reshape how online advertising works.

The company made this known on Wednesday.

Google first announced it would get rid of third-party cookies, which for decades has enabled online ads, early last year to meet growing data privacy standards in Europe and the United States, Reuters reported.

Privacy activists for years have criticized tech companies including Google for using cookies to gather web browsing records across websites they don’t own, enabling them to develop profiles on users’ interests to serve personalized ads.

Now, Google is pledging it will not use other technology to replace the cookie or build features inside Chrome to allow itself access to that data, though it continues to test ways for businesses to target ads to large groups of anonymous users with common interests.

“Keeping the internet open and accessible for everyone requires all of us to do more to protect the privacy and that means an end to not only third-party cookies but also any technology used for tracking individual people as they browse the web,” the blog post read.

Rival advertising tech companies are building tools to identify users across the web anonymously, including Criteo SA and The Trade Desk.

Shares of both companies dropped in January 2020 immediately after Google first announced it would eliminate cookies, but have risen consistently over the past year.

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Network Operators Get Approval to Establish SIM Swap Centres

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SIM Swap Centres

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria have been given the approval to establish dedicated SIM Swap centres across the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country.

A statement jointly issued on Wednesday by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigeria Identify Management Commission (NIMC) said the approval was authorisation was given by President Muhammadu Buhari through the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

In the statement signed by Mr Ikechukwu Adinde, the Director of Public Affairs at the NCC, and ​​​Mr Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, said the federal government has also extended the tenure of National Identification Number (NIN) enrolment agent licenses for MNOs from one to five years.

This, they said, was in consideration of their satisfactory performance, though their activities would still be monitored to ensure they maintained the standard. It was explained that this action was to simplify the enrolment process for Nigerians and legal residents.

Last Friday, the Ministerial Task Force on the NIN-SIM registration held its 4th review meeting chaired by Mr Pantami. Several stakeholders were in attendance, including the regulators, the players and others.

At the close of the deliberations, a technical committee was mandated to complete the development of a new SIM issuance strategy that cannot be compromised. This will ensure that there is no repeat of the past process that was compromised through pre-registration by some agents.

In addition, a multi-sectoral ad-hoc team was tasked to immediately complete the review of the processes for new SIM activations for legal residents staying in Nigeria for less than 24 months.

According to the statement, the membership of the panel was drawn from NCC, NIMC, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).

The Minister charged the NCC, NIMC and MNOs to come up with a framework for the establishment of SIM Swap/Replacement centres in each of the 774 LGAs in the country, beginning with critical and feasible locations.

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Facebook, JAN Empower Young Digital Marketers

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Digital Marketers

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A partnership that will empower Nigerian youths with digital marketing skills has been entered into between Facebook and Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN).

The collaboration is in line with the organisation’s vision of raising a generation of digitally-inclined young business leaders.

Beneficiaries of the scheme will be incorporated into the digital marketing module of JAN’s flagship company programme.

This element teaches secondary school students how to start and run their own business, develop a product or service, form a company, choose a business name and elect company officers to oversee the operation of the company.

The initiative aims to help students move a business idea from concept stage to reality and help them succeed in a global economy.

According to JAN, this scheme was developed as a result of the growing need for digital literacy among young people. The aim is to expose students to digital tools in order to help them bring their business online and market their brands through the programme.

“We are thankful to Facebook for this amazing partnership that will help our company programme students boost their business profitability and equip them with digital marketing skills.

“Digital marketing is the skill of the future. It fulfils the objectives of traditional marketing concepts and delivers competitive advantages, measurable ROI and better visibility and engagement,” the Executive Director of JAN, Foluso Gbadamosi said.

“When I came on board, one of the strategic methods I devised to accelerate JAN’s impact is to leverage digital technology to expand our reach as well as enrich our curriculum with relevant digital modules.

“This partnership is the right step in the right direction as we are on the right track to reaching another one million youth in five years,” Gbadamosi added.

On his part, the Policy Programs Manager at Facebook, Mr Phil Oduor, stated that, “The economic empowerment of Nigeria remains a priority for us at Facebook.

“We are excited to partner with JAN as it is an opportunity to further provide Nigerian entrepreneurs, small business owners and citizens with the skills needed to build a profitable business in a digital society.

“This partnership adds to our ongoing efforts to promote, guide and boost efforts to grow Nigeria’s economy by empowering citizens with digital skills.”

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Applications for Apple Entrepreneur Camp Open

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Apple Entrepreneur Camp

By Adedapo Adesanya

The applications for the next Apple Entrepreneur Camp for Female Founders and Developers have opened.

The Apple Entrepreneur Camp was established with the goal of supporting entrepreneurs who are underrepresented in technology as they build the next generation of cutting-edge apps, and to form a global network that encourages the pipeline and longevity of founders and developers of all backgrounds.

The heart of Apple Entrepreneur Camp is an intensive technology lab working one-on-one with Apple experts and engineers to significantly accelerate your app.

The event will see participants hear from Apple executives and leaders on a variety of topics such as the latest advances in machine learning and augmented reality.

Applicants will have the opportunity to connect as a cohort to discuss challenges specific to their community, and form relationships with their fellow attendees.

At the conclusion of the lab, they will have the opportunity to present their progress, get feedback, and chat with some of Apple’s most senior leaders.

In addition, Apple Entrepreneur Camp consists of an immersive technology lab, as well as mentorship, education, and support.

Selected organisations receive the following free of charge: One-on-one code-level guidance from Apple engineers; Ongoing support from an Apple Developer representative for at least one year; One year of membership in the Apple Developer Program; and access to the Apple Entrepreneur Camp alumni network, a world-class group of inspiring and ambitious leaders.

Eligibility:

Applications are accepted from developers worldwide. To be eligible to apply:

The organisation must have:

A female founder, co-founder, or CEO;

A female developer proficient in Swift or Objective-C; and

A developed app or functional build that you can demo live.

The participants must be 18 years of age or older and proficient in English.

The female founder, co-founder, or CEO, the female developer, and additional developer or designer of any gender (if applicable) must be 18 years of age or older, proficient in English, and able to attend together for the entire duration of the program.

Benefits:

One-on-one code-level guidance from Apple experts and engineers; Ongoing support from an Apple Developer representative for at least one year;

One year of membership in the Apple Developer Program; and Access to the Apple Entrepreneur Camp alumni network, a world-class group of inspiring and ambitious leaders.

Review Criteria:

Applications will be reviewed based on:

Content of written responses to the questions in the application form; Commitment to development for Apple platforms using the latest Apple technologies; and whether the app is unique or innovative.

Application:

The application consists of four parts, which include uploads and prompts for written responses.

Organisation details. 

Tell us about your organization and provide contact information for up to three employees who would attend if your organization is selected.

Your app. 

Provide details about your app and development team. You may include a download or demo link, as well as up to three screenshots or wireframes that best illustrate the user experience.

The future. 

Describe what you plan to gain from participating in Apple Entrepreneur Camp, as well as your plans for the future.

Additional information.

Select the dates for which you’d like to apply and provide any additional comments.

Each application will be kept on file for one year.

How to Apply:

Click here to get started.

Application Deadline:

Apply by March 26, 2021.

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