Over 13 million Kenyans affected as Opera stops free data offers on regulatory changes


Opera has stopped its free data plan which allowed Kenyans to enjoy free data bundles to access the Opera, which runs the Opera Mini Browser, as a result of  local authorities’ decision, including the Betting Control and Licensing Board, to halt advertising on Speed Dials (bookmarks on the start page) within browsers.

According to Google, Speed Dial is an extension assists one to browse your favorite sites much faster.

Opera defines Speed dials as visual versions of bookmarks – shortcuts that appear as a grid of tiles when you open a new tab in your browser

Since 2020, Opera has been offering free data to all its users including feature phones users.

Thus, the latest move will affect approximately 13.5 million users in the country who have been enjoying 50MB daily free data plan courtesy of the Opera.


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Latest data (quarter two-October-December) by the Communication Authority’s indicates that there were about 31.8 million feature phones in the market as of December.

Opera partnered with the leading telcos Safaricom and Airtel to run free data campaign.

The total mobile phone devices as of December were 65.45 million, representing a penetration rate of 129.4 per cent.

The penetration rate for smartphones and feature phones stood at 66.4 per cent and 62.9 per cent respectively.

At 62.9 per cent feature phones still serve a large population.

Notably, the cost of internet in the country is still high compared to other markets, with a gigabyte averaging KSh295.23, compared to KSh32.80 in developed markets.

“Unfortunately, for now, we have had to stop our much-loved Free Data Campaigns in Kenya for our 13.5 million local Opera users. We had to put a hold on investments and free internet access in Kenya, but we are hoping for a solution so that we can once again provide free data to you, our valued customers in Kenya,” the firm said in a statement.

“We appreciate your understanding, and would like to thank you for your patience as we work towards reaching a positive outcome.”

Opera management said, “The free data was part of Opera’s big way of supporting the users and driving Kenya’s digital inclusion and transformation.”

The firm added that the efforts to reach the BCLB management to find a solution have remained futile.

To date, Opera has provided data amounting to KSh1.6 billion on the free internet programme during 2023 in Kenya alone, benefiting many.

By our reporter

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