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The IPA’s Africa Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF) Committee has convened in Sharjah, UAE to discuss the projects that received funding from the APIF in the 2021 cycle, and explore ways to scale up and enhance these projects. Now in its third cycle, the fund is a joint initiative of the IPA and Dubai Cares, a UAE-based global philanthropic organization, and aims to support literacy, book access, indigenous publishing, and library services across Africa.

Comprising senior publishing leaders from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, and South Africa, and led by Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the IPA, the fund’s objectives are laid out annually and address the most pressing challenges facing African publishing.

Praising the committee members on the success of the fund, IPA President Bodour Al Qasimi said: “We are thrilled to see the impact this fund has had over the past two-years in championing home-grown projects across Africa. These projects effectively address challenges and respond to the needs of the indigenous publishing, education, and library sectors. APIF is the IPA’s first-ever foray into the grant-giving domain in our 125-year history, and the fantastic results demonstrate that it’s never too late to get behind a cause and lead lasting change. Along with our partner Dubai Cares, we have mobilised this fund strategically to advance key sectors vital for sustainable development.”

Describing their partnership with the IPA as a natural extension of Dubai Cares’ commitment to ensuring that children worldwide can take advantage of the life-long benefits of the crucial skill of reading, Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of Dubai Cares, noted: “Since the establishment of APIF, we have witnessed remarkable outcomes that are expanding IPA’s contributions towards promoting literacy. We thank the IPA for their sustained efforts in improving literacy, book access, indigenous publishing, and library restoration in Africa, and look forward to continuing our work together and positively impacting the lives of people across Africa.”

Halfway through its four-year mandate, the USD 800,000 grant funded by Dubai Cares and administered by the IPA, has received an array of inspiring ideas off the ground. So far, the fund has disbursed USD 400,000 to 12 initiatives, including eight publishing innovations and four library projects in over five countries across the African continent.

2021 APIF winners present projects

On the sidelines of the API Committee meeting, a workshop brought together the five winners of the 2021 edition of APIF. Participants included Catherine Uwimana from Save the Children International, Rwanda; Will Clurman, eKitabu, Kenya; Chirikure Chirikure, Zimbabwe; Alison Tweed, Chief Executive, Book Aid International, UK and Kumuriwor Alira Bushiratu, Learners Girls Foundation, Ghana. They made detailed presentations sharing individual experiences of the on-ground challenges they faced and lessons they learned in the process of successfully setting up and executing their projects funded by APIF.

Offering each other guidance and recommendations on steps to continue enhancing the quality and outreach of their respective projects, all agreed that the grant has been life-changing for their respective communities.