Nigerian teen techies build mobile web browser


DO-IT-YOURSELFERS: Two Nigerian teenagers, Anesi and Osine Ikhianosime, have created a mobile web browsing app known as 'Crocodile Browser Lite' that they say is faster and more easily accessible on lower end phones commonly available in Africa and other developing countries. – Reuters

DO-IT-YOURSELFERS: Two Nigerian teenagers, Anesi and Osine Ikhianosime, have created a mobile web browsing app known as 'Crocodile Browser Lite' that they say is faster and more easily accessible on lower end phones commonly available in Africa and other developing countries. – Reuters

LAGOS: Anesi and Osine Ikhianosime are teenage brothers living in Lagos, Nigeria. Like many children their age, they spend a lot of time on social media and browsing the Net. But the two boys decided to do much more. 

They developed their own browser known as Crocodile Browser Lite

"I had like a small phone at the time when I started, when we started learning how to code and Google Chrome was like the main browser on the phone and it wasn't really functional for me so I decided to make something that can work for myself," Anesi said. 

Anesi and Osine taught themselves how to code when they were 12 and 14-years-old respectively using free online resources and reading books. 

Now 16, Onesi says they are also motivated by a desire to help people and are passionate about developing the IT industry in Nigeria. 

"I just want to solve problems that people have, to make people's life easier and better," added Osine. 

Industry analysts have long hailed the explosive growth of mobile telecoms in sub-Saharan Africa – 635 million subscribers by the end of 2014 climbing to 930 million by the end of 2019 according to a report by Ericsson. 

But size isn't everything. Development in the mobile and IT sectors depends on the quality of those mobile phone connections, subscriptions and surrounding infrastructure. The number of expensive smartphones that can run sophisticated games and applications is low. 

Anesi and Osine see as an opportunity for new, innovative technology. They say Crocodile Browser Lite is faster than more conventional browsers like Google's Chrome and can be supported on lower-end phones common across Africa. 

Crocodile Browser Lite available on Google Play store and has so far received 40,000 downloads. 

Despite their early success, Chukwuemeka Afigbo, Programme Manager at Google Nigeria, cautions that Anesi and Osine need to further improve their browser if it is to become more globally competitive. 

"People obviously out of curiosity want to have a feel of the browser and know what it's like. You know this is obviously going to drive a lot of downlinks at the initial stage.  

"However, I will like to take this opportunity to pass a message to the people...the boys who built this browser that they should keep working on it and keep improving it so that even beyond this stage where there is a lot of publicity around it, people will then get hooked on the browser either because it is superior or there is something it does exceptionally well that makes them use it beyond this hype, quote unquote stage," he said. 

Anesi is about to graduate from secondary school and is hoping to go abroad to further his education in IT. Both brothers have developed a fan base among their friends and school mates. 

"They see me as this smart billionaire entrepreneur kid, not knowing I don't make any money from this and I'm just the same as they are. There's nothing special about me," Osine said. 

Their teachers, however, believe it's Anesi and Osine's work ethic that sets them apart. 

Nwachukwu Sylvester is an assistant principal at the school where he also teaches the younger brother. 

"They are very inquisitive. I teach one of them, the younger one is in my class and he is very very good, very agile, answers questions and does a lot of research work," said Sylvester. 

Anesi and Osine began their coding journey with the encouragement of both their parents who introduced them to computers as early as the age of three. 

The brothers say their goal is to create IT and mobile solutions for social problems that affect people not just in Africa but in developing countries around the world. – Reuters