Books For Africa Aims to Beat Own Record of Books Sent to the Continent

The world’s largest shipper of donated books to Africa held a fundraiser on June 8, where the goal was to break its own record and send 3.2 million books to the continent by the end of the year.

Books for Africa held its annual fundraiser at Town and Country Club in St Paul, Minnesota. The theme for this year’s event was Books Brighten Futures. Hajia Alima Mahama, Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States, was the keynote speaker.

“I feel so honored that an organization like this is headquartered here in Minnesota,” said Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.

Of the 10 least literate countries in the world, nine are situated on the African continent, according to a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, literacy rates depict a gendered gap, with 72% of men and just 58% of women being able to read, according to a 2021 study published in the journal Statista.

“The girls in Ghana selling water should be going to school and reading because they are the leaders who are going to change our world,” said Ghanaian author and publisher Rosemond Owens.

Tom Warth founded Books for Africa in 1988 to address the issue of literacy when he visited a library in Uganda that had nearly empty shelves. Since then, the mission has expanded, and the nonprofit organization has delivered more than 50 million books to all countries in Africa. In recent years, the Books for Africa has begun shipping computers and electronic devices to provide access to eBooks.

In her keynote speech, Mahama spoke about the urgency of solving the book crisis in Africa. She said that she believed education and access to books is at the foundation of every successful society.

“It is easy to take books for granted in the United States, but education is key,” said Mahama.