In 2016, a high school teacher in South Africa realized that her students weren’t logging in to their books. To encourage their reading, she started publishing e-books with a hook, written by and for teenagers who live in the townships of South Africa.
Popularly called Cover2Cover books, these books were made available on Worldreader’s reading app in 2016, achieving favorable results. The countries with the highest number of readers were found to be South Africa (112,398), Ethiopia (105,649) and Nigeria (104,549).
Read more: Trevor Noah Foundation partners with Microsoft to help young people in South Africa
This month, as part of the recent launch of the Ghana Year of Reading initiative, Surfline Communications Limited, Ghana’s 4G LTE internet service provider, partnered with the Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) to bring connectivity Wifi to users of public libraries in the Greater Accra Region. This partnership can make the library accessible to more people by making it easier for them to read the content.
Although Ghana’s initiative is an encouraging start, the Internet can give this concern new impetus.
Paper or silicone?
Access to books in Africa is often difficult and expensive. Only a few countries, such as Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, have a significant book trade.
Textbooks are the highest market, where governments are the biggest buyers. According to BBC.
Printing paper, ink and printing plates are taxed at the same level as other commodities, and they are also seen as a barrier that makes books expensive. This often makes it difficult for the average person to buy a book. An e-book can solve these problems.
As of 2010, the large-scale dispersion of mobile communications technology has given African governments, organizations and people better access to educational resources inside and outside of school, according to Quartz.
Low-cost, low-power smartphones and tablets have become a boon for ICT in education that are gradually coming out of the school environment.
Mobile tools, such as tablets, provide an important opening to overcome challenges such as the lack of books and manuals. Some 600,000 children in nine African countries have received Kindle-type readers. The initiative has had a substantial impact on reading.
The value of reading
The access that the Internet offers to a population to acquire knowledge or simply enjoy the pleasure of reading could go a long way in emerging countries in Africa.
Along with building the financial economy, African countries can build their knowledge economy. People only buy or sell books if they see the value of reading, and that value comes from both the ability and the desire to read.
The NOP World Culture Score(TM) index, which examines global media habits, such as radio listening, time spent on the radio and reading books, released its figures in 2005.
While data was not available for most of Africa, in the adult reading for pleasure category Egypt was ranked fifth with an average of 7.3 hours spent per week. This places the country in the top six, above the world average of 6.5 hours per week.
Another African country to make the list was South Africa, with an average weekly reading hours of 6.18 hours. In fact, according to a 2017 survey by the South African Book Development Council, seven out of 10 South African adults read for pleasure.
To find a comparison with the rest of the world, India ranks first with more than 10 hours of reading per week. Thailand and China are second and third, with 9.24 and 8 hours per week respectively. Egypt and South Africa left behind countries like the UK at 5.3 and the US at 5.42.
As Professor Abdu Kasozi, former Executive Director of the National Council for Higher Education in Uganda, pointed out in Africa’s Perilquality education is about more than swanky infrastructure, as evidenced by the success of many Asian countries, a lesson that Africa could also learn.
E-books could be the answer to Africa’s problems with reading habits. The fact that e-books require no shipping costs and all one needs is a cheap phone and mobile data to be able to enjoy a story, could be encouraging for publishers and readers in Africa. .