Mobile social networking company MXit, with 13 million subscribers worldwide, has introduced Africa’s first Mobile Book (MBook), in a bid to promote literacy and reading among its majority youth audience.
As of today, MXit users will be able to download an entire book – “Emily and the Battle of the Veil” – on the network, at a cost of ZAR13.50.
Says Juan du Toit, International Marketing Manager for MXit: “This is a very exciting project for us because it allows us to add online reading to the already broad online social networking and chatting model that encompasses the MXit lifestyle offering. As MXit is so widely used by the youth as their preferred communication tool, we hope to encourage the youth to develop a love of reading. We will therefore look to provide our users with more titles in the future.”
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 26 percent of the world’s adult population is illiterate and 98 percent of these people live in developing countries. Africa as a continent has a literacy rate of less than 60 percent.
The fantasy novel is written by Karen Brooks, and is based on the life of a fictional 13 year old girl in Sth Africa. It can be downloaded on the MXit mobile portal, and can be read at any time after the download completes.
Says Brooks: “MBooks is the evolution of eBook. I thought that access to books via a digital medium was a great way to give everybody access to my novel. More importantly, Emily and the Battle of the Veil is suited to teenagers and I wanted to make it accessible to them – hoping that it will foster a love for reading and writing,”
“I also found the concept of a zero carbon footprint very appealing. As book lovers we did not traditionally think about the impact on the environment, however I am pleased that the next generation will have the same access to literature that we did, but in an eco-friendly way”.
The launch of MXit’s first MBook follows other educational initiatives from the company, including a maths project called Imfundo Yami Imfundo Yethu, which offers online mathematics classes to learners. It is a joint programme undertaken by Nokia South Africa, MXit and a Finnish company that created the mathematical software.