At Frankfurter Buchmesse: A ‘Spotlight on Africa’

In News by Porter AndersonLeave a Comment

The ‘Spotlight on Africa’ program scheduled for October’s Frankfurter Buchmesse is presented by the IPA’s Africa Publishing Innovation Fund.

Image – Getty iStockphoto: Zurijeta

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Inclusive Publishing in Africa’
With many elements of programming coming into view for Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 19 to 23), one targeted sequence of events is the “Spotlight on Africa” program being produced on October 20 from 10 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. in Hall 4.1, H102.

At the heart of this program is the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund, with which Publishing Perspectives readers are very familiar. This is the US$800,000 program now in its fourth year of grants-making in support of various initiatives in African publishing and reading. In our ongoing coverage of the fund since its inception, we recently reported on the plan for it to be focused this year on supporting publishers in accessibility for vision-challenged readers.

At Frankfurt this year, an Africa Publishing Innovation Fund collective stand is being mounted to showcase publishing innovators from African markets, and a dedicated stage area is included for the purpose of this program on October 20, “Frankfurt Thursday.”

As you’ll remember, Bodour Al Qasimi, now president of the International Publishers Association (IPA), led the formation in May 2019 of the fund in association with Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of the philanthropic program Dubai Cares. The association’s committee met last year at the House of Wisdom on the sidelines of .

Here, provided to us by the IPA, is a look at the programming coming together for the seminar, with the proviso that a few additions or changes might still be in the offing.

Agenda: ‘Spotlight on Africa’

A stage at the 2019 edition of Frankfurter Buchmesse. Photo: FBM, Niklas Goerke

All times listed, of course, are Frankfurt time on October 20, CEST.

Claudia Roth

10 a.m.: Welcoming comments from Claudia Roth the German minister for culture and the media

10:05 a.m.: Opening remarks from Al Qasimi on behalf of the International Publishers Association

10:10 a.m. “Promoting Inclusive Publishing in Africa” with moderator Brian Wafawarowa, executive director of learning resources with Pearson South Africa and the president of the South African Publishers Association, and panelists:

Brian Wafawarowo

In this session, organizers tell us, the speakers look at how audiences with varying reading disabilities have been largely unsupported in many markets over many years. “While the Marrakesh Treaty [based at WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization] played a very strong role in raising consciousness about the need to accommodate those with reading disabilities, the [still ongoing] coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a strong business case for producing accessible books to many publishers in developing publishing markets for the first time.

“As a result, African publishers are increasingly adopting digital publishing and targeting new audiences like publications for the visually disabled.”

11:10 a.m.: “Keeping Students in School and Books in the Hands of Readers in a Pandemic” with moderator Angela Wachuka, the co-founding publisher of Book Bunk, and potential panelists:

From the organizers’ descriptive copy: “While UNICEF estimates that [prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic], Africa already had one of the highest levels of out-of-school children in the world—at [perhaps] 100 million—the shift to online schooling posed a challenge for which many African education systems and governments were ill-prepared. As African education systems moved online, many publishers and teachers struggled to adapt. The situation was further complicated by longstanding issues that have led to insufficient spending on social infrastructure, including libraries and an urban-rural connectivity divide.

“The African Publishing Innovation Fund’s 2021 grant cycle prioritized remote and community-led innovations to keep students in school and provide under-resourced communities with the infrastructure needed.”

Alison Tweed

12:10 p.m.: “Transforming African Libraries” with moderator Wanjiru Koinange, Book Bunk, and potential panelists:

  • Chirikure Chirikure, poet and songwriter
  • Alison Tweed, Book Aid International
  • Alissa Everett, Exposing Hope
  • Patrick Musafiri, Save the Children Rwanda

“Libraries are being challenged to remain relevant by transitioning from lending books to becoming economic incubators, cultural hubs, and experiential learning centers.

Juergen Boos

“There are a number of efforts in Africa and internationally which are working to transform African libraries to align with their changing role in communities. ”

1:10 p.m.: Closing remarks from Juergen Boos, president and CEO of Frankfurter Buchmesse

1:15 p.m.: Conclusion: Ben Steward, African Publishing Innovation Fund program manager


More on the International Publishers Association is here, more on the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund is here, more on publishing in Africa is here, more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, and more on book fairs and trade shows is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s world media partner. More from us on the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

At Frankfurt, please join us for the inaugural edition of Publishing Perspectives Forum, a two-day program of leading and influential professionals in the international publishing industry discussing today’s challenges, dynamics, and trends. Attendance is free of charge for all Frankfurter Buchmesse exhibitors and trade visitors. The program language is English. You’ll find full details and developing news here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter Google+

Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

Leave a Comment