African mobile users spent more than 4-millions hours reading books on their mobile phones in 2018 – an increase of 32% from the same time period last year.

This figure is from Opera and Worldreader, which started partnering to bring free e-books to mobile users in Africa through Opera Mini in 2015.

The technology behind Opera Mini compresses text and images to 10% of their original size, reducing data consumption and the cost of data on a mobile phone and allowing users to spend more time reading and downloading their favourite books when using Worldreader.

“We are very happy to contribute to literacy in Africa with our Opera Mini browser as we give mobile users access to Worldreader’s vast library,” says Richard Monday, vice-president for Opera in Africa. “Since we started this partnership we have added more than nine million new readers in Africa who now enjoy books from different genres such as romance, adventure and education, among others.”

According to the latest report of Groupe Sp├ęciale Mobile Association (GSMA), “The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2018”, at the end of last year there were more than 444 million unique mobile subscribers and 250-million smartphone users. These numbers represent a big opportunity to bring reading to millions in the Sub-Saharan region through technology.

“We know that mobile phone affordability and the convenience of owning one are two big reasons why we are seeing more and more people accessing our e-book collection through their mobile devices in Africa”, says Colin Mcelwee, co-founder at Worldreader. “Our partnership with Opera Mini is a perfect match, with Opera browser being the number one choice for mobile users across Africa, it provides an incredible opportunity to get people reading.”

A study conducted by Worldreader, called Reading in the Mobile Era, showed that 65% of mobile readers in Africa are men while 35% are women. However, women tend to spend 11,5 minutes reading, on average, while men read 6,5 minutes per session, making women more frequent readers.

African mobile readers prefer books related to love and romance, especially those that come from local authors and publishers.