By Paul Ndiho
Audiobooks have traditionally been around for decades, used in schools, libraries and on smart devices. In Lagos Nigeria, a young graduate has found his niche – converting hard copy publications into audio books to enable people to learn on the go.
Tochukwu Nkwocha walks into the studio to record the latest offering in his audio book project. As the producer fixes audio levels, Nkwocha reads through today’s assigned pages. He runs Genitconsult, a company that is converting hard copy publications into audio books.
“Is God to be trusted? Is he really faithful? Is He as faithful today as He was in the olden days? The first thing we need is faith. You have to believe that He will fulfil His promises. The second thing you need is patience. You must be patient because you cannot rush God to do anything.”
Nkowcha’s company has been producing audio books for over four years. They convert between 50 – 100 books a year. Depending on the length of the book, the process can take about eight to ten hours to complete.
“Our challenge now is to move our content online, develop a robust online platform where people can access it as MP3 downloads and also get more books done in audio without the cost of doing that prohibitive to the authors.”
Nigeria has a rich literary history with many internationally acclaimed authors calling the country home.
Writers like playwright and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka often interact with local students and young writers.
Berlyn Ehondo is a teacher and lives in Lagos. She often listens to audio books when she is at home and has made them part of her daily routine.
“Personally, I like to listen to this while I’m at home and doing my chores because it’s like killing two birds with one stone. So I’m doing my house chores which I have limited time to do and I’m also adding value to myself.”
But the publishing industry here still faces many challenges. Access to books is still difficult compared to other parts of the world. Books are not as readily available especially in rural areas and where they can be found, they are often too expensive.
Entrepreneurs like Nkwoche are hoping to make books more exciting and accessible for many more Nigerians. The audio books cost between 13 to 18 dollars.
“Audio books are there mainly as a compliment and also provide an alternative if you don’t have the time to read. So we are not trying to replace reading, we can’t possibly do that. But we are saying there are other convenient ways that you can actually learn.”
Analysts say while audio books have been in existence around the world for many years now, they are an innovative addition to Nigeria’s literary space that enthusiasts believe will inspire more people to embrace a greater reading culture in the country.
In 2006, Nigeria’s census estimated the country’s adult literacy rate at 54 percent.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho