Worldreader Launches Worldreader Mobile
Worldreader (worldreader.org), the nonprofit aiming to boost literacy by providing digital books to children and families throughout Africa and the rest of the developing world, today announced a new method of getting e-books to millions of people on a device they already own: their mobile phone.
Until now, Worldreader's mission of getting e-books into the hands of people in the developing world functioned via e-readers. To date, Worldreader's programs in Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania have shown inspiring results of children reading more, providing students access to over 440,000 e-books in English, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, and Twi. In fact, in the first few months of 2013, Worldreader has already added e-reader programs at the Kibera Girls' Soccer Academy in Nairobi, Kenya, and expanded work in Ghana to reach over 1,800 new young children and families in Ghana's Eastern Region.
Now, as a way to extend its reach, Worldreader has introduced "Worldreader Mobile," a cell phone application designed for low-end "feature phones." After months of beta testing, Worldreader Mobile now boasts 500,000 active readers a month in Africa, India and the rest of the world. During testing in January, children and adults consumed the equivalent of 17,000 books on their feature phones using Worldreader Mobile- which has 1,200 books available including CK-12 textbooks, health books provided by the World Health Organization, English language content from the US State Department, stories from African's Caine Prize winners and Harlequin romance novels.
According to USAID, nearly every home in sub-Saharan Africa has access to at least one mobile phone, making it possible to deliver important health and skill building reading material to millions of people. Sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest-growing mobile market in the world, with an average annual growth rate of 44 percent since the year 2000, showing large scale potential to get more e-books to people in the developing world.
"There are more mobile phones than toothbrushes on this planet," said David Risher, co-founder and CEO of Worldreader. "Together with our growing e-reader program, Worldreader Mobile connects us to millions of the world's poorest people, providing the books they need to improve their lives."
In 2011, Worldreader partnered with biNu, which has a technology platform that makes Internet connectivity fast and affordable on mass-market phones. The biNu mobile app is used by more than five million people across the developing world and includes more than 100 channels, including news, weather, messaging and also books, via Worldreader Mobile. The platform compresses the mobile data so any phone can have a smartphone-like speed, even on the lower bandwidth 2G networks that account for the majority of mobile phone subscriptions in Africa today and the foreseeable future.