Global New Renaissance – the Rise and Rise of Africa.

Africa.
Still in the digital stone-age.
Or is it?

This week comes confirmation that Big Machine Label Group‘s new global music-video streaming platform Big Machine TV will be powered by a start-up in… Nigeria

BMLG, the first major music label (Taylor Swift among many superstars) to operate its own streaming platform, is using Nigeria’s PublicVine PaaS (platform-as-a-service) system.

For most of us in the First World west, Africa is still assumed to be in the stone-age, but the reality is rather different.

Drones deliver blood in Rwanda

We all know about Amazon’s drone delivery plans, but did you know that Rwanda, in central east Africa, is set to have the world’s first drone airport? Rwanda leads the world in drone deliveries, sending blood supplies to remote areas for life-saving transfusions, and is expected to have the world’s first fully commercial delivery drone network up and running in 2020.

Don’t be so surprised. Over a year ago Rwanda kitted out all 400 of its capital’s public buses with LTE 4G broadband, free to use for its customers.

Will Rwandans be reading our ebooks as they commute to work? Not a chance. The big western retailers don’t know Rwanda exists.

Rwanda doesn’t have a space programme yet, but Nigeria does. So does South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and Cote d’Ivoire, and Kenya just last year embarked down this road.

“Lagos is the Los Angeles of Africa,” says this Forbes report from February this year. “Home to a plethora of the continent’s rich and famous, gated communities, a thriving film industry nicknamed Nollywood, and the Motherland’s biggest consumers of champagne.”

Will Nigerians be reading our ebooks?

Unlikely. Amazon isn’t there. Apple isn’t there. Google Play isn’t there. Nook isn’t there. Kobo has a token presence but Nigerians can only buy in USD at US prices.

StreetLib leads the western aggregators, with a small Nigerian ebook outlet, and Nigerians have bigger ebook players, complete with a self-pub portal.

Across the continent the situation is dire for us western authors. Google Play has two stores – South Africa and Egypt. Amazon and Apple have none, although South Africans can buy from Amazon US – but they are surcharged if they do.

In Morocco people will soon be travelling in high-speed luxury on TGV trains, yet no western ebook retailer is there.

In February / March / April this year the latest stats were released for internet use in Africa.

Kenya not only has faster internet than Australia but also has more people online than the entire population of Australia.

Nigeria now has almost 100 million people online. That’s more than the entire population of the UK. Or Germany. Yet Nigerians can’t buy our ebooks from any of the major retailers except Kobo, and then only if they pay US prices and pay in US dollars.

Take a look at this map.

Every green country has 3G (light green) or 4G (dark green) internet access and could be markets for our ebooks. There are only a handful of places where the internet still doesn’t reach.

This month Facebook confirmed it is just shy of TWO BILLION users globally. Every one, by definition, holding an internet-enabled device that could be used to read our ebooks. Mark Zuckerberg expects to have FIVE BILLION Facebook users by 2030.

We are witnesses to, and participants in, a Global New Renaissance quite unparalleled in human history. And it’s only just beginning.

It won’t happen this year, or next, but in the very near future everyone in the world will be internet enabled, and coming up close behind that everyone in the world will have the means to pay for digital content as the mobile payments operators up their game.

The future is global.

Sow the seeds now for future harvests.


This post first appeared in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.

In pursuant discussion the question of ebook stores in Africa arose.

Currently Amazon has no formal presence on the continent, but South Africans can buy from the Amazon US store, But they are surcharged if they do. Most Africans cannot even see the Kindle store, which is blocked from view.

Apple has no presence in Africa,

Google Play has just two store – South Africa and Egypt.

Kobo has a token presence but no localised store and limited accessible content.

The only western aggregator getting us into Africa right now is StreetLib, which has a deal with Evribook, but this is still in beta.

There are several other domestic ebook stores in Nigeria, some of which have their own self-pub portals.

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