File picture: Cindy Waxa/ANA

Johannesburg - The largest publication project for indigenous language fiction in South Africa's history was launched on Friday at this year's SA Book Fair.

The project is the brain child of publisher Via Afrika and is called WritePublishRead. It will give unpublished local writers of indigenous language fiction the chance to be published in their home language. 

By promoting writing in indigenous languages, the project aims to encourage South Africans to read more and invigorate the local publishing industry. It was launched during the SA Book Week at the SA Book Fair which kicked off on Friday ending on Sunday.

The Department of Basic Education says less than one of books in South African libraries are in indigenous languages despite the fact  that these are the home languages of 76 percent of the population. 

According to the South African Book Development Council, only 14 percent of South Africans read regularly so giving South Africans access to books digitally, via any mobile device, in the language of their choice, will have a massive impact on the country’s reading and literacy rates.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga hopes that by giving black authors the tools to meet the needs of their own communities, WritePublishRead will transform the current publishing landscape and create opportunities for empowerment at an individual level.