NituShoma is an e-Reader that will curate and promote local African content.


According to The World Bank, World DataBank, Literacy levels among youth (15 – 24 years of age) in 2011 was reported to be 70.4%, while the literacy among Adults (15+ years) was reported at 59.8[1]. Another report by the African Development bank stated that by 2030, majority of the African population will be below 25 years of age [2].

Problem Statement

A lot of young Ugandans today have no idea who Dr. Tom Rushege was, in Rwanda several claim to know who Alexis Kagame is, but outside of Rwanda, few know of him. The story of Gipiri and Labongo, a myth about two brothers who later became the founding fathers of the tribes in Northern Uganda, their story or different versions of it can be found scattered in a few places on the internet, either by bloggers reminiscing of their childhood or by retired missionaries looking to tell about where they have been; Looking to share, the mystery of Africa.

Africa is a continent that despite having 54 different countries, has one thing in common; Oral Tradition! From stories told by grandfathers about the origins of their people, the legends and folk tales embedded with hidden meaning, to young 21st century writers struggling to get their voice out there. This collection of authors has to fight and compete with the likes of Stephanie Meyer, Dan Brown and Tom Clancy on popular eReaders like Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and GoodReads. More often than not, these African authors loose the fight.

The Solution

A proposed solution to the problem mentioned above is NituShoma.

NituShoma is an e-Reader that will curate and promote local African content. Local African content refers to literary works that are written by African authors. On NituShoma, African authors will not have to compete with popular authors like Stephanie Meyer but will provide healthy competition for each other. NituShoma will also be a resource that will help foster a sense of cultural identity in an era where Western civilization has become the de facto standard. NituShoma is intended to serve the African Market. This includes the 1 billion[3] people currently living on the African continent as well as the African immigrants living on other continents.

How it works?

It is Android application that will be available via the play store. After downloading, A user will be able to login to NituShoma using their Facebook, Twitter or Google accounts. A user will be able to share titles of books they have read with their friends both with their friends using NituShoma and their friends on Social Media. A user will be able to write recommendations and reviews of books they have read on NituShoma.

A user will be able to access the application and entertain themselves while they are on the go, in a café, in a taxi, waiting for a taxi at the bus stop.

A user can also be able to use the application while they are exercising, like when they are out on a run or in the gym on the treadmill, they can listen to audio versions of books.

A user will also have the option of buying a buy books using a pay per chapter policy. Users can use Mobile Money to pay for the books. A user will also have the option to discover books where she can see books that her friends are reading or see popular books from her region.

A user will also have access to a request feature, where in case they did not find a book but had seen it in a local bookstore, they can request the local bookstore to upload the book. Or if an audio book is in Xhosa and they are from Kenya and don’t understand Xhosa, they can request a translation of the book. A user will be able to climb NituShoma’s ranks as they continue to give ratings and as people approve that their recommendations were useful.

Technical Features

Related Works

The related works are divided into two main sections: Related Online Applications and Websites that work like NituShoma and Related Scientific work in the fields that NituShoma is going to operate in. The related scientific work is divided into 6 different key sections, namely: Mobile Phones in Africa, Mobile Money usage, Oral Traditions in Africa.

a) Related Online Applications and Websites

Barnes & Noble Nook

Nook is an e-reader app from Barnes and Noble, and it boasts of a collection of over 2.5 million books[4]. Unfortunately, finding a book by an African author in that collection is not easy. Most times, the authors and their titles are not even included.

Amazon Kindle

Similar to the Nook, Kindle is also e-reader application, but from Amazon. The Android version of this application boasts of over 1.5 million books. Like the Nook, it is not easy to find African content on the Kindle. Also, payment options offered by Amazon are tailored to the Western world context that uses credit cards which majority of the African population does not use. [5]

ReadersCafe Africa

The ReadersCafe Africa is a blog that features bloggers from different African countries. The content featured on this site is free and is normally short stories.


Storymoja is a community of writers that are committed to publishing East African writing. They hold writing workshops and have a start a library project. They highlight African stories and also write brief descriptions about them


Audible is an Amazon subsidiary that provides premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment on the internet. It includes over 100,000 audio programs from more than 1800 content provides that include book publishers, newspaper publishers. The first listen is free there-after, users pay a fee of 14.95 per month. [6]

b) Related Scientific Works

Mobile Phones & Africa

A lot has been written on the impact Mobile phones have had and are continuing to have in Africa, Palmer [7], mentions that as ICT in general continues to develop, Africa needs to embrace technology in order to reduce the digital divide both in Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world. This technology can be also be the use of Mobile phones and their integration in African Societies. Soltes [8], states that the mobile revolution in Africa has brought on a new attitude. An attitude where even in the poorest of countries the ownership of a mobile phone is seen as not just a means of communication but one of prestige.

This so called mobile revolution can be considered to be a contributing factor to a report written by McKinsey&Company [9]. The report states that in Africa in 2013, there was 16% internet penetration, 167 million internet users, 67 million smartphone users, over 50% of urban residents are online and that 51.6 million are Facebook users. The predict that by 2015, internet penetration would have risen by approximately 50%, there will be 600 million internet users as well as 360 million smartphones. The report goes further to state that even through African are eager to generate demand, governments still have a role to play in educating those that are unaware of the benefits of the internet through the use of digital literacy programmes.

The Business Monitor International Jan 2014 report entitled BMI Africa Telecommunications Outlook: Key Markets and Trends [10], mentions the need for affordable smartphones in Africa’s low income markets that has now become a reality with smartphone companies expanding their local presence and product offerings in the region.

Mobile Money in Africa

With the diffusion of Mobile phones in Africa, there is now an increase in the use of these phones for another important aspect. The phones are now being used for making payments, where instead of people walking around with wads of cash, they are now using their mobile phones as their wallets. Standage of The Economist [11] wrote that countries in the developing world, i.e Kenya, are now using Mobile payments as an alternative convention to banking and payment methods.

Kshetri and Acharya [12] found that as of February 2012, the mobile payment users in Kenya were over 18 million and that mobile banking in Africa was expected to reach $22billion by 2015. They noted that because only 20% of families had bank accounts alternatives such as mobile banking proved much more useful since all that was required was access to a mobile phone.

Oral Tradition

Ruth Finnegan in her book Oral Literature in Africa [13] mentions that the unwritten forms of African Tradition are less widely known and appreciated, since these forms do not fit into familiar categories of literate cultures. She continues to write that they are harder to records and present to a superficial observer. She distinguishes between oral literature and written literature by noting that oral literature is normally dependent on the performer while written works can take on an independent form as perceived by the reader.


[1] World Bank, “World databank”,, [Online]. Available: Accessed: 17 Feb. 2014
[2] M. Mubila, “Briefing notes for afdb’s long-term strategy, briefing note 4: africa’s demographic trends”,, [Online]. Available: Accessed: 17 Feb. 2014
[3] World Population Review, “African population”,, [Online]. Available: Accessed: 17 Feb. 2014
[4] Google Play, “Nook – read books and magazines”,, [Online]. Available: Accessed: 17 Feb. 2014
[5] Google Play, “Kindle”,, [Online]. Available: Accessed: 17 Feb. 2014
[6] Audible, “Audible”,, [Online]. Available: Accessed: 3 Mar. 2014
[7] D. Palmer, “Achieving e-Inclusion: Building an African Digital Agenda” in IST-Africa 2011 Conference Proceedings, 2011, IIMC.
[8] D. Soltes, “’Mobile Phone’ Revolution in Africa as a Key Factor For Transer of EU Know How for Development of e-Health and Related Intuitive Education”, Computer-Based Medical Systems (CBMS), 2010 IEEE 23rd International Symposium on. IEEE, 2010.
[9] J. Manyika, A. Cabral, L. Moodley, S. Moraje, S. Yehoah-Amankwah, M. Chui and J. Anthoyrajah, “Lions go digital: The Internet’s Transformative Potential in Africa”, McKinsey&Company, 2013.
[10] Business Monitor International, “BMI Africa Telecommunications Outlook: Key Markets and Trends: Jan 2014”, Business Monitor International 2014.
[11] T. Standage, “Virgin Territory: Three unconquered parts of the technology landscape will be fought over in 2012“, The Economist: The World in 2012 Print Edition, 2011.
[12] N. Kshetri and S. Acharya, “Mobile Payments in Emerging Markets”, IT Pro, IEEE, 2012.
[13] Ruth Finnegan, “Oral Literature in Africa”, Cambridge, UK, Open Book Publishers, 2012, pp. 49 -50.

This was a project that done as part of the Mobile Social Apps course at Carnegie Mellon University

The stories used in this proof of concept were published online by Jalada Africa