By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘Practical Solutions for Common Problems’In a partnership announced Monday (August 27), the South African ed-tech company Snapplify is working with telecommunications group Econet Wireless to make what’s described as hundreds of thousands of ebooks available to readers in Africa “across multiple digital platforms on mobile, tablet and desktop,” according to media messaging, “from educational materials to bestselling leisure reads.”
Econet’s presence in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Botswana, Lesotho, Ghana, and Uganda is the enabling technology behind the partnership, leveraging Snapplify’s content catalogue to let readers access digital books and educational materials without incurring extra data charges for downloads.
In a statement for the press, the two companies’ officials point out that the region’s high data costs “can be a prohibitive barrier to e-reading adoption, holding back digital education infiltration. By removing this data cost, and zero-rating all ebooks and digital educational content,” the statement reads, “the model offered by Econet will go a long way to making ebooks more accessible and affordable for everyone.”
Snapplify’s offices say the company’s list now includes more than 240,000 titles, and that publishers contributing books are based in Africa and abroad. The new program is devised to encourage local publishers to participate, as well, developing wider access to regionally produced digital educational materials.
In a prepared statement, Snapplify operations director Mark Seabrook is quoted, saying, “As an African company with an African focus, Snapplify has always worked toward addressing education challenges.
“Not only does Econet also have a strong education focus, but, like Snapplify, they are specifically interested in practical solutions for common problems, such as access to materials and the high cost of data. …As we continue to expand into Africa, we hope this partnership will allow us to reach more readers and improve access to digital educational materials on the continent.”
And for Econet, Tendai Mashingaidze, Econet Education’s CEO, says, “Econet has a long-standing commitment to leverage our reach to impact diverse audiences, and equip them with quality tools and resources for growth and empowerment.
“It’s common knowledge that educational materials are difficult to access across Africa. Econet is passionate about using our strengths and assets to make a sustainable change in this regard, and looks forward to working closely with Snapplify as leaders in our respective industries.”
A Snapplify Reader App and a Snappbox
In explanatory copy on its site, the Snapplify program explains that institutions accessing its educational offerings are enabled by Google access. “When integrating e-learning,” the material reads, “institutions are looking for easy, no-fuss solutions. Getting started with Snapplify for Education is simple and painless. Users who have a Google account (if they already use Gmail or Google Classroom, for example) can even skip Snapplify’s short registration process and log in to the platform using their Google login details.
“The suite is easily integrated with existing technology—compatible with most devices and operating systems. Using the free Snapplify Reader app, users can read ebooks and interact with content on iOS, Android, Mac or PC desktop, Google Chromebook, or Smartboard.”
In addition to online access, the company offers a so-called Snappbox, “a hardware distribution” option, that “has increased affordable access to digital books where internet connectivity is limited or expensive.
“South African and Kenyan schools,” media material adds, “are now using Snapplify’s responsive and interactive e-learning solutions.”
For its part, Econet, seated in Johannesburg, is a privately held telecommunications, media, and technology group reporting that it has operations and investments in Africa, Europe, South America, North America and the East Asia Pacific Rim, “offering products and services in the core areas of mobile and fixed telephone services, broadband, Internet, satellite, and fiber optic networks.”
The company is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
More from Publishing Perspectives on the African markets is here.