Publiseer may be small compared to western aggregators, but its mix-n-match ebooks and music approach has prove successful in Nigeria and to mark its first anniversary this month Publiseer has launched operations in Ghana
In a statement marking the expansion, Publiseer co-founder (with brother Chika) Chidi Nwaogu, said,
Ghana has an amazing music industry that spreads across Africa and even the world. The book publishing industry in Ghana is also huge, and Publiseer wants to tap into this huge resource … Ghana is a country with really intelligent and creative people, and it will be an honour having these amazing people use our platform to monetize their digital contents.
Of course all things are relative. Africa was a latecomer to the digital world and while it has made huge strides – see below – authors and publishers have been slow to climb aboard.
That’s in large part due to the absence of the Big 5 western ebook retailers on the continent. Consider this: Only Google Play has dedicated ebook stores serving Africa. one in South Africa and one in Egypt. Elsewhere Google Play Book is blocked.
Amazon allows downloads in some countries, like South Africa, but imposes the $2 whispernet surcharge on every download, even for “free” ebooks. For most of the continent the Kindle store is not even visible to local people.
Apple has no presence at all on the continent, and the same of course for Nook.
Kobo has theoretical pan-African reach but this is negated by its failure to offer localised payments or partner stores.
A few countries have domestic ebook stores – Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria, Egypt and South Africa, and Ghana has its own audiobook operation, AkookBooks, but broadly speaking, outside these countries, there is simply no ebook infrastructure on the continent to support the development of ebook embrace
In home-country Nigeria Publiseer faces competition from the well-established domestic ebook retailer Okada, which has far more books and authors but as yet has shown no interest in expanding beyond its borders.
Publiseer, by contrast, has focused from day one on offering authors, and musicians, global reach through outlets, rather than selling direct, and quickly became the first (and so far only) Africa-based member of the International Publishing Distribution Association.
So while Publiseer’s client and content numbers may seem insignificant right now – Publiseer, currently fielding just 133 books and 467 tracks by 110 writers and 217 musicians – what we need to be looking at here is the potential for the future.
Already Publiseer has seen 1.5 million music downloads.
It’s now known how much of Publiseer’s ebook and music downloads come from within Africa and how much from beyond, but if you’re thinking “surely there can’t be enough people online to make ebooks worthwhile in Africa,” then maybe you’re new to TNPS.
It’s a problem of perception and penetration.
Perception is understandable. Africa rarely makes the headlines in the First World, and when it does it’s usually for all the wrong reasons. And of course there’s no question that Africa is way behind other parts of the world in internet adoption.
Which brings us to penetration. Internet penetration in Africa is at just 35%.
But that’s across the whole continent, and that number disguises the exciting reality of Africa’s global potential that Publiseer have recognized and are working towards.
Take Ghana for example. Ghana is just ahead of the continental average at 34.3% penetration right now. But with a population of 29 million, Ghana has over 10 million people online. That’s more than Sweden and on par with Belgium.
Then consider Kenya. Kenya is at a First World level 85% internet penetration, with 43 million people online. That’s more than Spain and four times Sweden or Belgium.
And then there’s Nigeria itself. And if you’re new to TNPS you might want to be sitting down for this.
Nigeria, at just 52% penetration, had 98 million people online at the start of this year. That’s more than any country in Europe except Russia.
In fact, Nigeria is, by number of people online, the eighth largest country in the world.
Plenty of room for Publiseer to surprise us further in its second year.
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