Innovation fund to invest $170,000 in 7 African publishing projects
Five innovative African projects have each won a $20,000 grant, while a library restoration initiative is to receive $50,000 and $20,000 will be allocated to Rural library restoration from the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund created by the International Publishers Association and development organization Dubai Cares for activities to promote literacy, book access, indigenous languages, and library restoration in Africa.
The remaining six winning bids for a share of the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund were selected after a rigorous process led by a committee of African publishers under the chairmanship of IPA Vice-President, Bodour Al Qasimi.
These are the first grants to be disbursed under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in May 2019 between Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, and the International Publishers Association (IPA), the world’s largest trade association for publishers.
Consequently, the following projects (in alphabetical order) can start from January 2020:
Accord Literary (Ghana), an authorship and reading initiative, will mentor, develop and encourage African authors in a number of countries writing for young readers. Accord Literary seeks original and unique voices, and to help get their books into the hands of readers around the world.
Cassava Republic (Nigeria), a publishing house, will produce and translate 10 children’s books into three Nigerian languages. The aim is to give children access to beautiful, illustrated pictures in their native tongue, to aid cognitive development and instil cultural confidence at an early age. Independent publisher Cassava Republic wants to create a special imprint for local language publishing.
OkadaBooks (Nigeria), an e-publishing start-up, will drive literacy by giving teachers, students and parents free access to books their children can relate to via mobile phones, which are widespread and affordable. OkadaBooks will generate and distribute Nigerian content, identifying new talent through writing competitions.
Positively African (Kenya), a content-creation and literary events company, will invest the money in the Story Jukebox, to make African literature accessible, encourage lifelong learning and help connect communities. It will distribute audio stories Africa-wide via digital platforms and partnerships with universities and centres for the visually impaired. The first phase will focus on Kenyan writing, with the adaptation of eight stories from the Humans of Nairobi anthology.
Puku Foundation (South Africa), is a nonprofit that promotes children’s literature, education and literacy in Southern Africa. It is building a digital portal called Pukupedia as a hub for multilingual expertise in children’s literature; nurturing new local talent through writing workshops, online courses and mentoring; and developing reading culture among teachers, librarians, writers, literacy activists and young people.
Kakuma (Kenya), the world’s largest refugee camp will receive an equal share of the grant to implement libraries for the resident students. Kakuma camp is home to refugees from DRC Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Uganda among others; and the fund will add to the efforts done yearly by other organizations working hard to feed the camp with books and to allowing young children, mature students and teachers to stay up-to-date and knowledgeable about evolving topics and updated knowledge.
Library restoration receives $50,000 + a $10,000 book bonus
Book Bunk, a project to restore the McMillan Memorial Library in Nairobi, has been awarded $50,000 towards work on the library’s Kaloleni branch. In a surprise move, Dubai Cares has also provided an additional $10,000 worth of children’s books to stock the library. Book Bunk works with the Nairobi authorities to encourage community engagement in libraries, through events, walking tours and film screenings.
IPA Vice-President Bodour Al Qasimi said: ‘To have reached this point in five months is phenomenal, and it’s wonderful to see intentions quickly turn to action. This was a demanding process for all concerned, but for none more than the applicants, who have been under considerable pressure to demonstrate the sustainability and scalability of their ideas. The competition was tough, and every single application received had real potential to bring big benefits to literacy, reading or book accessibility in Africa. This is why the committee has awarded five projects an equal share, to ensure these Dubai Cares grants will impact a broad range of issues and countries.’
At the Sharjah International Book Fair Publishers Conference and following the Award ceremony, His Excellency, Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “We are very excited to award the most innovative projects that will have tremendous impact on promoting literacy, book access, indigenous languages and library restoration in the African continent. Through this partnership, Dubai Cares will closely work with IPA for the next four years with a range of local partners, including publishers, policymakers and civil society, to implement innovative and replicable solutions to transform the future of African publishing, promote approaches to longstanding publishing industry challenges and catalyze stakeholder co-investment.”