Angela Wachuka (Book Bunk), Elinor Sisulu (PUKU Foundation), Bibi Bakare-Yusuf (Casava Republic), Gbadega Adedapo (President, Nigerian Publishers Association), Dr. Tariq Al Gurg (Dubai Cares), Boudour Al Qasimi (IPA Vice-President), Hugo Setzer (IPA President), Laurence Njagi (President, Kenya Publishers Association), Brian Wafawarowa (Chair, IPA Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee), Okechukwu Ofili (OkadaBooks), Stephanie Braquehais, Wanjiru Koinange (Book Bunk)

Africa Publishing Innovation Fund grants $170,000 to seven African publishing-related projects.

The Africa Publishing Innovation Fund granted $170,000 to seven publishing-related projects across Africa on October 29, 2019.

The Africa Publishing Innovation Fund was created following the agreement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) 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 in May 2019. As part of the MoU, Dubai Cares committed AED 2,938,800 (USD 800,000) over 4 years to expand the reach of IPA’s programs in Africa as well as cooperate on new initiatives at the nexus of sustainable development, education, and publishing.

The first recipients of the fund are now known with five African projects winning a $20,000 grant, while a library restoration initiative is to receive $50,000 and $20,000 will be allocated to Rural library restoration. The 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.

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.’

The following projects (in alphabetical order) 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 non-profit 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.

African rural libraries initiative:

  • Kakuma (Kenya), the world’s largest refugee camp will receive an equal share of the grant (US$20,000) 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.
  • 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.


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