Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Founder and President of Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) and Member of the International Publishers Association (IPA) Executive Committee, said that the African publishing industry has enormous potential for the future, including building essential cultural bridges with the rest of the world.
Speaking to some of the most influential figures in publishing during the IPA Seminar in Lagos, Nigeria, on the sidelines of the Nigeria International Book Fair, Sheikha Bodour highlighted the major challenges and opportunities that could dictate the future of the industry across Africa, including contributions to the international market and competition at a global level.
Held under the theme ‘Publishing for Sustainable Development: The Role of Publishers in Africa’, the seminar focused on the importance of African publishing and catering to a market where readers worldwide are seeking more diverse voices and books and becoming increasingly interested in other cultures, countries, ideas and lifestyles.
Addressing a host of international panelists representing many of the IPA’s 76 organizations from 65 countries, Sheikha Bodour emphasised that the potential market for a young, and vibrant literary audience was greater than ever.
Sheikha Bodour said: “Emerging markets account for 90% of the global population under 30, and Africa and the Middle East have the highest proportion – these are not only the readers of the future, they are emerging talent which will make its own mark on the industry.”
“I believe that it is only a matter of time until these populations and economic trends change the face of the global publishing industry as we now know it and I have no doubt that Nigerian and African publishing industries will benefit from these shifts,” she said.
Sheikha Bodour added: “I am truly in awe of the quality of the discussions, the quality of the writers, and the quality of the creative industry talent coming out of Nigeria and Africa. I think the rest of the world has to start paying attention to the stories and beautiful art coming out of this region and they deserve our respect, our appreciation and our support.”
At the end of her speech, Sheikha Bodour gladly announced that: “Kenya Publishers Association has offered to host the next IPA seminar for sustainable development of Africa next year in Nairobi.”
The sessions in the historical one-day seminar included: Publishing in the 21st Century: The Socio-economic Contribution of the Publishing Industry in Africa; Strengthening Educational Publishing in Africa; Bringing the Voice of African Writers, Publishers, and Content Creators to the World; The Role of Technology in Overcoming Illiteracy and Promoting a Reading Culture; Addressing Freedom to Publish Challenges in Africa; and Enhancing Enforcement of Copyright and IP Laws.
Gbadega Adedapo, President of the Nigerian Publishers Association, said: “Publishing, literacy, and access to books are prerequisites for success in life and the development of our countries and continent. We must always remember that strong publishing industries and national cultures of reading are the foundations for socio-economic development and are critical for progress.
“Rough estimates of African’s publishing market say it is worth more than one billion dollars with more than 500 million book-buyers. The market is showing cumulative annual growth of 6%, but we simply haven’t shouted enough about how important publishing is to the development of all the countries that make up this great continent of ours. It is time for that to change.”
The first IPA seminar in Nigeria, was held in collaboration with sponsors including Sharjah Publishing City, London Book Fair; National Aviation Services; Emirates Publishers Association (EPA); Frankfurt Book Fair; Association of American Publishers; Nigerian Publishers Association; The Publishers Association – UK; and Emaar Properties PJSC.