African Publishers Network

The African Publishers Network (APNET) is a pan-African, non-profit, collaborative network that exists to connect and exchange information between African publishing associations with the goal to promote and strengthen indigenous publishing.

Introduction

Prior to the foundation of APNET in 1992, there was no easy way for those involved in publishing in Africa to share information and learn from one another’s experiences. A database did not exist with the addresses of libraries, bookshops or fellow publishers; each individual entity was functioning on its own without the advantages that come with networking and communication.

After several conferences and seminars focused on solving the problems within the African publishing and book trade industry, it was concluded that “the need for networking as a means of information-sharing became paramount. It was necessary to set up an umbrella body which would be a network of publishers in Africa” [Dekutsey, Woeli, "The Story of APNET", African Publishers Network, commissioned by UNESCO. 1995.pg 4] . In 1992, delegates from 9 countries founded the African Publishers Network at a conference in Harare, Zimbabwe. It relocated from Zimbabwe to Abidjan Côte d'Ivoire with a research and documentation centre located in Harare, Zimbabwe. However, due to political situation in Ivory Coast, APNET's headquarters is now in Accra, Ghana.

Mission and vision

The vision of APNET is “the transformation of African peoples through access to books” . The mission of the organization is to “strengthen African publishers through networking, training and trade promotion in order to fully meet African’s need for quality books relevant to African social, political, economic and cultural reality” .Promotion of indigenous publishing is of great importance to APNET; however, both small and large publishing houses are members.

Who is involved?

APNET is a diverse network representing all regions from across Africa with 27 national publishers associations as members.The governance of APNET consists of four key parts which are interdependent:The General Council represents the totality of African members and meets once a year; the board is representative of Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone Africa and is the executive arm of the council; The Secretariat which consists of Executive Secretary and Administrative Officer manages the daily concerns of APNET and ascertains that everything is running smoothly. They also conduct many functions such as organizing training workshops and conferences and fundraising; the project committees oversee pertinent activities that are specifically assigned such as fulfilling research opportunities .

In addition, membership to APNET consists of 4 levels: full membership (granted to national publishing associations); founding membership (among the publishers from the nine countries which started APNET); affiliate membership (for those interested in the work of APNET and share its vision – booksellers, editors, printers, designers, etc.); and associate membership for those with “an outstanding record of service to African publishing” .

Reasons for forming APNET

APNET was formed due to the lack of ability for those in the publishing industry to communicate effectively; however, there are more reasons why it was crucial for APNET to be formed. The book and publishing industry are at the root of education and literacy in the country. Therefore, the effects of APNET are not limited to the publishing and book trade industry; rather, the efforts of APNET will positively impact all sectors of the country.

Accomplishments

APNET can claim many concrete achievements since its formation; in general, as an evaluation of APNET states: “The formation and revitalization of many national publishers associations are a direct result of APNET’s networking activities, most consistently through person-to-person contact and the publication of the "African Publishing Review"”Fact|date=September 2007. The "African Publishing Review" is a bi-monthly newsletter sent out to publishers’ associations, book development councils, libraries, etc., and other subscribers. For publishers in Africa, the APR is free of charge; however, other subscribers must pay a small fee. The "African Publishing Review" is the only pan-African publishing journal published in Africa with news, analysis, and in-depth perspectives of African Publishing. A survey was conducted and it showed that the APR is the “second most important source of information”Fact|date=September 2007 to publishers after the NPA’s . A survey done by SIDA showed that the APR is the most frequently used form of APNET service . APNET has produced six other publications including "The Story of APNET", "The Development Directory of Indigenous Publishing", "African “Rights” Indaba", "APNET Children’s Books Catalogue", the "Catalogue of Agricultural Books Published in Africa", and "Towards an African Publishing Institute".

The African universities lack programmes and classes for creating professional publishers: university training in this field is only available in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, and these courses fall short of what is required. Based on the curriculum that was developed for the institute, APNET has conducted over 30 workshops in 18 countries.

Other publications of APNET include a development directory which contains 70 entries on key African book-development organizational and professional bodies; essays and reports on publishing in Africa; a resource centre which is a source of published and unpublished research on publishing in Africa.

Advocacy

APNET advocates for the African publishing industry through attending book fairs, both in Africa and internationally. APNET goes beyond attending and providing materials for the book fair; it enables other African exhibitors to attend through financial support. In addition, when a book fair is being organized in Africa, APNET offers its support by arranging its major meetings to occur during the dates of the event so that all will be in the area to attend.

Dialogue with the World Bank has proven to be a success for APNET. As the World Bank has reached a better understanding of APNET and dialogue has continued between the two, “APNET has been in a position to send out World Bank monthly operational summaries to the National Publishers Associations, which provides information and possible opportunities for publishers”Fact|date=September 2007.

A trade and promotion program is conducted through APNET which allocates catalogues of African books and sources and disseminates orders to publishers.

The KAWI Project is a project that is supported by APNET with the hope that the African education curriculum will be built on textbooks that are locally produced and published. Science for Africa is a project that has created pan-African children’s science books; the KAWI series theme is focused on Renewable Energy. Both APNET and UNESCO have worked together to promote this series as they express the belief that only culturally relevant materials and a home-grown curriculum can improve learning opportunities and halt the reliance on imported educational materials .

Difficulties or setbacks

Financial struggles have made it difficult for African consumers to buy local books; prices of books are high compared to what people can afford . There has been a dependence on books from developed countries. The African Publishers Institute is working to correct this dependency through training and educating Africans on how to successfully operate in the book trade and the publishing industry.

Many African publishers are working with printing facilities that are not as efficient as in developed countries. To correct these setbacks, policy makers need to give their attention to indigenous publishers and other African publishing houses. As Ruth Makotsi writes in the book "Expanding Book Trade in Africa":

:"barriers to book trade can be addressed only through changes in policy at international, regional, and national levels. For this reason a program has been initiated to lobby governments and trade organizations to consider the book sector when formulating trade and development policies."

As a result of these setbacks; approximately seventy percent of Africa’s book needs and exports account for less than five percent of its local materials. In addition, “Africa is responsible for only two percent of the world’s books” .

Works Cited

* Chakava, Henry, "Publishing in Africa: One Man’s Perspective", Nairobi: Bellagio Publishing Network and Co-Published with East African Educational Publishers Ltd., 1996.
* Christensen, Lars P and others, "Strengthening Publishing in Africa: An evaluation of Apnet", Sweden: Sida, 1998.
* Dekutsey, Woeli, "The Story of APNET", Harare: African Publishers Network, commissioned by UNESCO, 1995.
* Kotei, S, "The Book Today in Africa", France: UNESCO 1981.
* Makotsi, Ruth, "Expanding The Book Trade Across Africa: A Study of Current Barriers And Future Potential" Harare: ADEA Working Group on Books and Learning Materials, 2000

External links

* [http://www1.freewebs.com/africanpublishers/ Welcome to the African Publishers Network Online]

References

*www.Freewebs.com/africanpublishers/introduction.htm. African Publishers Network Website.(Accessed April 14, 2007)
*www.Freewebs.com/africanpublishers/introduction.htm. African Publishers Network Website( Accessed April 14, 2007).
*Ruth Makotsi, "Expanding the Book Trade across Africa: a study of current barriers and future potential", (Harare: ADEA, 2000), 56
*Woeli, Dekutsey, "The Story of APNET: a study of the origins, structure, activities and policy of the African Publishers Network", (Harare: African Publishers Network, 1995), 6-7
*Woeli, Dekutsey, "The Story of APNET: a study of the origins, structure, activities and policy of the African Publishers Network", (Harare: African Publishers Network, 1995), 7
*S, Kotei, "The Book Today in Africa" (France: UNESCO, 1981), 117 UNESCO Website. http://portal.unesco.org (accessed April 19, 2007)
*S, Kotei, "The Book Today in Africa" (France: UNESCO, 1981), 118
*Lars P Christensen and others, "Strengthening Publishing in Africa", (Sweden: SIDA, 1998), vi
*Lars P Christensen and others, "Strengthening Publishing in Africa" (Sweden: SIDA, 1998, 25
*Lars P Christensen and others, "Strengthening Publishing in Africa" (Sweden: SIDA, 1998, 25
*African Publishers Network Website. Freewebs.com/africanpublishers/introduction.htm. Accessed April 20, 2007.
*Lars P Christensen and others, "Strengthening Publishing in Africa", (Sweden: SIDA, 1998), 27
*Lars P Christensen and others, "Strengthening Publishing in Africa", (Sweden: SIDA, 1998), vii
*Woeli, Dekutsey, "The Story of APNET: a study of the origins, structure, activities and policy of the African Publishers Network", (Harare: African Publishers Network, 1995), 11
*Woeli, Dekutsey, "The Story of APNET: a study of the origins, structure, activities and policy of the African Publishers Network", (Harare: African Publishers Network, 1995), 13
*Lars P Christensen and others, "Strengthening Publishing in Africa( Sweden: SIDA", 1998), 41
*Lars P Christensen and others, "Strengthening Publishing in Africa( Sweden: SIDA", 1998), 45
*Lars P Christensen and others, "Strengthening Publishing in Africa( Sweden: SIDA", 1998), 34
*African Publishers Network Website. Freewebs.com/africanpublishers/introduction.htm. (Accessed April 14, 2007).
*Lars P Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa( Sweden: SIDA, 1998), 7
*Ruth Makotsi, "Expanding the Book Trade across Africa: a study of current barriers and future potential" (Harare: ADEA, 2000), 57
*Ruth Makotsi, "Expanding the Book Trade across Africa: a study of current barriers and future potential" (Harare: ADEA, 2000), 2 *S, Kotei, "The Book Today in Africa" (France: UNESCO, 1981), 72


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