With the 2018 Accra International Book Festival set for 6-9 September, coinciding with Ghana’s National Literacy Day on 8 September, aspirations are high.
The festival’s theme this year is “Amplify,” the idea being to amplify the power of Ghanaian writers in society and beyond and to promote a culture of reading.
Writes Brittle Paper,
The Festival has secured the participation of the iconic Ama Ata Aidoo as well as that of Haruna Ayesha Attah, author of The Hundred Wells of Salaga and former Miles Morland Scholar. Other guests include authors Nana Damoah Awere, Brooke C. Obie, and Chief Moomen, and actor Naa Ashorkor Mensah-Doku and Joy FM radio personality Manasseh Azure Awuni.
The event’s Internet Sponsor is Busy Ghana, but as yet no-one seems quite ready to join the dots and start pushing digital reading in Ghana.
That’s not so say digital isn’t developing in Ghana, just not as fast as, say, in Nigeria, Kenya or South Africa.
But while Ghana does not yet have its own ebook store (Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa do) it does have its own audiobook operator, AkooBooks.
The absence of any serious ebook infrastructure is a problem that will need to be addressed if the wider ambitions of the festival are to be realised.
At the festival promotional launch earlier this month the West Africa Coordinator, Kwabena Brakopowers, said,
We’re working with some writers and organisations to turn our literature into the next cocoa, gold, and oil for Ghana.
Ambitious indeed, and not unachievable. Ghana is by African standards one of the wealthier nations. But these commodities are a world apart from books and literature in terms of reach, within the country, across the African continent, and globally.
Ghana needs to emulate Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa in pushing books and reading as a digital commodity to overcome the infrastructure hurdles to print reach for Ghanaian publishers and authors.
With 10 million people online – more than Belgium, Sweden or Portugal – and with internet penetration at just 34%, digital reading represents an exciting opportunity for Ghana.
But with none of the Big 5 western ebook players interested in the country, that initiative will have to come from elsewhere.
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