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More than 65% of the African population is under 25 years old. This population will double to reach 2.5 billion in 2050. Their education remains one of the major challenges. It will be necessary to set up the material conditions for access to educational resources and documentation like libraries. The situation is very concerning because of the majority of schools in African countries do not have libraries or have insufficient documentation, especially regarding African content.
Based on this observation, Nouvelles Editions Numériques Africaines (NENA) has produced a fully operational solution that can be scaled up across Africa. These are digital libraries of African content. Launched in 2017, the African Digital Libraries include two types:
1) Offline digital libraries on eReader and mobile application
An eReader is a mobile device dedicated to reading digital books. NENA offers two eReaders, one for primary school level, the other for secondary level. It is now possible for schools to install a digital library, which is adapted to the curriculum, faster and at a lower cost than traditional libraries.
2) Online digital libraries
NENA has set up digital libraries available online on its platform. These are 9 digital libraries in law, social sciences, management, literature, art and culture, youth, accessible on the Internet by subscription.
More than 3,000 titles, in French and English, from more than 95 African publishers will be available before the end of 2020.
The concept provides a fully operational solution that can be scaled up across Africa and ensure worldwide access to African contents. It can be replicated in any African country.
NENA is since 2008 the pioneer and probably the only digital publisher in Africa specialized in African contents. The viability of the project is based on the fact that during the last 10 years NENA has been digitizing, saving and making accessible the African scientific and cultural heritage for Africans and for the rest of the world. More than 3,000 titles, in French and English, from more than 95 African publishers on a variety of domains (literature, social sciences, law, youth, culture) are available on our platform. This includes 150 audiobooks.
This concept encompasses a triple system of diffusion: first in a e-commerce platform specially dedicated to African publications, second in online and offline digital libraries, and third in nearly 90% of the worldwide eBook stores including (Amazon, Apple eBook store, FNAC, didactibook, Barne & Nobles, etc.).
The project demonstrates that it is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. The subscription business model allows free access to certain end-users (students, learners) with a cost supported by the community or institution’s subscribers. The concept contributes to enhancing access to information and knowledge, especially in rural areas. For instance, it is now possible for schools to install a digital library, which is adapted to the curriculum, faster and at a lower cost than traditional libraries. The digitization of contents reduces the use of paper as well as the transportation costs.
From its conception, NENA's project is multilingual and pan-African.
NENA implemented an innovative mixed Business model based on subscription and one-to-one ebook sale or borrowing which allows authors and publishers to have a minimum of guaranteed income even if they do not make sales.
Book is the medium of transmission of knowledge par excellence as well as a vector of dissemination of information and culture. The availability of well-furnished libraries is a necessary component of access to knowledge and quality education. In Africa, the majority of cities, schools and universities do not have enough libraries or have insufficient documentation, especially regarding African contents.
For the last 12 years, NENA has been digitizing, saving and making accessible the African literary, scientific and cultural heritage for Africans and for the rest of the world, to ensure its transmission to future generations.
The concept of African digital libraries is a solution that comprises in its implementation a considerable cultural, social and educational impact.
In fact, the impact of NENA's digital publishing can be seen in several ways:
- Unavailable old books, dating from before the computer age, become universally accessible 24/7, concentrated on the same platform dedicated to the African book.
- The digitization of the African editorial background means its perpetuation.
- With digital publishing, African publishers will have new sources of additional revenue, and the authors new sources of royalties. The African publishing industry can be strengthened.
In practical terms, the e-book has many advantages in bringing practical solutions for access, inclusion and quality of education in Africa.
- Access to digital libraries enriched with African content;
- The ease of setting up libraries in cities, schools and universities, even in rural areas;
- Availability: durability of books against stockouts and lack of reissue;
- Inclusiveness: with accessible reading formats (Daisy, audiobooks, etc.) for people with disabilities or visual impairments;
- Accessibility: 24/7 of eBooks for students and teachers;
- Cost: the e-book is generally cheaper than the paper book with the elimination of transportation, storage and paper costs.
- Portability: mobility and portability of a library of books, ability to move with a library of more than 3,000 e-books; storage capacity;
- Digital reading features: integrated dictionary, interactivity, hypertextuality, etc.
- The uses of social reading: reading statistics, sharing on social networks, recommendation, etc.
In addition, a dozen schools in Dakar with a few thousand students have acquired dozens of eReaders.
The Government of Senegal is setting up a "City of Sciences" for the dissemination of scientific culture, in which is planned a media library that acquires 100 eReaders.
The Virtual University of Senegal is currently subscribing to the African libraries for its 4,000 students. The steps are underway at the 6 public Universities in Senegal for a subscription for 60,000 students.
The concept was awarded by the Technology and Innovation Transform Fund of the Islamic Development Bank's at the Transformers Summit in Cambridge (UK) in December 2018 for its contribution to the SDG 4 Quality Education.
The solution was also awarded by the African Union at the Innovating Education In Africa Expo in Gaborone Botswana in August 2019 for its contribution to improving access, quality and inclusion of education in Africa in the framework of African Union Agenda 2063.