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Submitted by Phillip Pare on
A 16 Gigabyte Mirco SD card can be bought for 239 Rand in South Africa. This should be able to hold a significant number of books (more than ten thousand) and more and more phones and tablets can read these SD cards. Storing content on SD cards and distributing them, would make the content "device agnostic". A significant cost is that of translation. In the South African context I thought that an approach would be to translate about a thousand books from various languages into the remaining ten official languages. These books could be selected from material suitable to pre-schoolers right up to graduate university texts and could include modern best sellers targeted for an average adult reader. So a thousand books per language would come to eleven thousand books in all, seeing that South Africa has eleven official languages. The translation cost of this would be significant if we assume that each book is only available in one language and would have to be translated into the other ten. If we assume that a moderate novel for an adult audience is about one hundred thousand words then the cost to translate this book could be around one hundred thousand rand (translation cost at R1 per word or US$0.12 per word)and so we would be looking for one hundred million rand or about twelve million US dollars to translate all one thousand books into a single language. The cost of the Micro SD cards would also be around one thousand million rand if we supply five million learners with a single card at a 100% subsidy. Thus financing models to become important and if each family were responsible for perhaps half the cost of the Micro SD card and for 50% of the translation costs, the cost to government would be brought down significantly. These costs then need to be fed into a cost benefit study and compared with other national programs such as building a fleet of nuclear reactors for three hundred thousand million rand or renovating ministerial houses for five thousand million rand. The total South African annual budget is around a million million rand (120 billion US dollars).