With over half a billion Africans online it was always just a matter of time before digital subscription took off in Africa, and France-based YouScribe has led the way in spectacular fashion.

Last year YouScribe launched its digital books subscription service in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Madagascar and Cameroon, to the mild bemusement of the few industry commentators that even noticed.

Digital subscription in Africa?

It was only two years ago (January 2018 in fact) that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was famously asked “Do they have bookshops in Nigeria?”

In fact Nigeria is also one of a handful of African nations that has embraced digital books, alongside, of course, having regular bookstores.

But digital subscription has been late arriving on the continent, and when it did, few were excited by the prospect. So when the 2018 results came in, plenty of jaws were hitting the floor.

This week YouScribe confirms it is live in Burkina Faso, a landlocked West African country of 20 million that is just at 18% internet penetration.

Previous launches have focussed on the more digitally advanced francophone nations of Africa, and we can welcome the Burkina Faso launch as confirmation of YouScribe’s inclusive vision for the continent.

Partnering with the telco Orange, YouScribe becomes a telco value-added service (VAS) that benefits from the reach (9 million users in Burkina) and carrier billing options (pay with your mobile phone credit) to deliver digital content in the most effective way across a continent where traditional book retail has always been challenging.

It’s a reminder, as Storytel has shown us elsewhere, with launches in tiny countries like Iceland and cash-strapped nations like India, that no country is off-limits to digital subscription.

And a reminder too that you can’t put the digital subscription genie back in the bottle.