It’s no longer a surprise in this day to see almost everyone with a smart-phone in Africa.
This development is greatly attributed to tremendous efforts and breakthrough in technology coupled with a free market which has led to many people having access to the Internet.
According to a report published by GSMA on Africa’s mobile economy, the number of smartphone connections across the continent almost doubled over the years, reaching 226 million and selling prices have also dropped from an average of $230 in 2012 to $160 in 2015.
It’s no doubt this immense development has brought access to knowledge in many aspects of life such as in food, culture, economics and politics.
With Internet explosion, one would argue that Africa would eloquently become informed due to availability of knowledge through this new platform. However, it’s sad to note that there has been little up take of knowledge from the Internet by many Africans.
One wonders then what Africans do on the Internet; is it browsing, chatting, researching or reading?
Due to low levels of innovation and information sharing, one would expect the African society to find more fun in reading and researching owing to a wide range of materials the Internet provides.
Some people are spotted countless hours on the Internet without any serious business. Instead of reading and researching, what most of them do is engage in endless arguing and professional trolling.
Even with the availability of e-magazines and newspapers, the vast majority of smartphone users continue to remain uninformed.
No matter how accessible things have become, African culture seems to just not to be a reading as observed from its tendency to preserve history; this poses a serious danger to the survival and perpetuation of African culture.
It must be noted though, that African strides in reading come a long way.
Firstly, during colonisation some Africans begun to imitate the missionary’s lifestyle of knowledge sharing and acquisition through reading. This however, was limited to small groups of individuals and its impact was minimal usually within families. Additionally this form of literacy was principally to use as an aid in disseminating the gospel.
The last type of reading has mostly remained in formal education of which the use is not merely for the acquisition of knowledge but entirely to remain current in the academic system and is wholly abandoned immediately formal education is over.
The saying that ‘The best way to hide something from Black people is to put it in a book,’ seems entirely true here. Many prefer being told and not finding out themselves through reading.
Reading is powerful, and that’s the ultimate principle of modernisation.
A professor of literature, rhetoric, and writing said ,“The truth is that most of us read continuously in a perpetual stream of incestuous words, but instead of reading novels, book reviews, or newspapers like we used to in the ancient regime (past), we now read text messages, social media, and bite-sized entries.”
The alternative to books, internet has given people around the world a source of information.
Africa’s illiteracy is indeed rooted in its poor reading culture and not necessarily the unavailability of information.