African Publishers Network
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The African Publishers Network (APNET) is a pan-African, non-profit, collaborative network that exists to connect African publishing associations in order to exchange information and promote and strengthen indigenous publishing.
Prior to the foundation of APNET in 1992, publishers in Africa had difficulty sharing information and learning from one another’s experiences. There was no database containing the addresses of libraries, bookshops or fellow publishers; there was no networking structure connecting the agencies.
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". 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 the political situation in Côte d'Ivoire, 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 four levels: full membership (granted to national publishing associations); founding membership (among the publishers from the nine countries that 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”.
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”. The African Publishing Review (APR) 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” to publishers after the national publishers associations. 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.
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”.
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.
- Chakava, Henry, Publishing in Africa: One Man’s Perspective, Nairobi: Bellagio Publishing Network, 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.
- 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.
- Dekutsey, The Story of APNET (1995), 7.
- S. Kotei, The Book Today in Africa (France: UNESCO, 1981), 117 UNESCO Website. http://portal.unesco.org (accessed April 19, 2007).
- Kotei, The Book Today in Africa (1981), 118.
- Lars P. Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa, (Sweden: SIDA, 1998), vi.
- Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa (1998), 25.
- Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa (1998), 25.
- Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa (1998), 27.
- Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa (1998), vii.
- Dekutsey, The Story of APNET (1995), 11.
- Dekutsey, The Story of APNET (1995), 13.
- Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa (1998), 41.
- Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa (1998), 45.
- Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa (1998), 34.
- Christensen and others, Strengthening Publishing in Africa (1998), 7.
- Makotsi, Expanding the Book Trade across Africa (2000), 57.
- Makotsi, Expanding the Book Trade across Africa (2000), 2.
- Kotei, The Book Today in Africa (1981), 72.