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 Sharjah International Book Fair.
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’
All times listed, of course, are Frankfurt time on October 20, CEST.
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:
- Lawrence Njagi, Mountain Top Publishers
- Gautier Chomel, DAISY Consortium
- Akoss Ofori-Mensah, Sub-Saharan Publishers
- Will Clurman, Ekitabu
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:
- Kumuriwor Alira Bushiratu, Learners Girls Foundation
- Amos Kipeen, OliveSeed
- Elinor Sisulu, Puku Children’s Literature Foundation
- Amina Hachimi Alaoui, Yanbow Al Kitab
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.”
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.
“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.
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