Normally a free data campaign would only be of modest interest in these pages, but when web innovator Opera launches such a campaign in Ethiopia, partnering with new entrant Safaricom, whose Kenyan service it has already worked alongside, it says a lot about how the operator is looking at ways to attract subscribers in this newly competitive market.
Opera regularly partners with local operators to coordinate free data campaigns. It has already made it possible for nearly 40 million people across five countries to benefit from up to 3 GB of free browsing each month. In Kenya alone, Opera has invested over $12 million in free data campaigns over the past three years. Now it’s Ethiopia’s turn.
Indeed, as Jørgen Arnesen, EVP Mobile at Opera, says: “Ethiopia is a large and growing country in which we see a great deal of potential. But at this point, the internet penetration rate is only around 16.7% nationwide. So we’re excited to join forces with long-time partner Safaricom to help expand Ethiopia’s digital economy.”
The campaign will enable Opera users to enjoy up to 50 MB of free browsing every day when using the latest versions of Opera Mini or Opera for Android browsers on the Safaricom network. The deal excludes video streaming and file downloads.
Of course Opera already has a strong presence in Africa. Indeed it claims to have invested over US$100 million to date in the region to bring more people online and offer them the fastest and most reliable internet connection possible.
That sort of profile must be useful for Safaricom in a big, underserved market like Ethiopia. And of course Opera and Safaricom have rolled out similar successful campaigns in Kenya. In the meantime it will be interesting to see how Safaricom Ethiopia promotes the new service and how incumbent Ethio Telecom responds.