Why digital publishers are targeting Africa

Digital Content

The quick adoption of mobile technology in Africa has not only realised new opportunities in telecommunication but in how content is delivered.

In particular, book publishing in Africa is an expensive exercise: a luxury that many Africans may not be able to afford.

Publishers, therefore, have to think of new ways of getting the written word out.

Will Clurman, the Chief Executive Officer of eKitabu, a digital book publishers could not agree more (Kitabu is the Swahili word for “Book”).

eKitabu gives readers options to purchase and read local and international books on their phones, tablets and computers.

“Smartphones and even tablets are becoming common in Africa, especially in cities. But people need content. It’s stories that give our lives meaning, sometimes understanding. Ebooks are a well-evolved form of content that readers, authors and publishers know how to handle,” Clurman said.

“And we know that although the gadget’s needed, content is that without which there’s nothing of meaning. Especially in education: content—local content—is vital. Educational research shows gadgets alone may yield ‘computer literacy,’ but without content all you get is facility with the device. That’s why we’re working to catalyze the content ecosystem here,” he added.

eKitabu was established in 2012 by Digital Divide Data, a technology firm that does digitisation of documents. The company now looks to serve more African countries after having great success in Kenya and five other African countries.

eKitabu has been able to sell over 300,000 Kenyan and international books through their platform and they hope to sell thousands more in the coming years.

The clear intention by several African governments to embrace digital learning is also quickly pointing to this wind of change for the publishing industry. Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa have initiated different digital approaches to take learning online.

Clurman says that 75% of all books published in Africa are educational content. So digital publishing revolution has to begin from the education sector before it spreads to other sectors.

Getting back to the basics by helping our children learn using ebooks could spur on the publishing industry in Kenya and the rest of Africa.

When they finish school, reading books for pleasure will not be a foreign idea, regardless of the technology.