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Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Publishers Association (IPA), the world’s largest trade association for publishers, to support a range of initiatives to address pressing African publishing ecosystem challenges, build indigenous publishing capacity, and create national cultures of reading. The MoU was signed by Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Vice President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), and Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares.
Through the partnership, Dubai Cares is committing 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. Dubai Cares, which has implemented education programs in more than 20 countries in Africa, brings significant experience in literacy, educational publishing, and mother tongue education to the partnership. Kenya and Morocco have been identified as initial focus countries with other beneficiary countries to be announced at a later stage.
Commenting on the new partnership, Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi said: “Because it influences education, reading, and socio-cultural development, publishing can have a transformative impact on countries and individuals and serve as a tool to address challenges such as illiteracy, poverty, conflict, inequality, and unemployment. For this reason, IPA launched its Africa Regional Seminars series last year. Our work in Africa is based on quickly moving from words to action, and Dubai Cares is one of the most agile, responsive partners we could hope to partner with. IPA and Dubai Cares will be working with a range of on-the-ground partners, including publishers, policymakers, and civil society, to implement innovative, replicable solutions to transform the future of African publishing.”
Al Gurg said: “Africa and the Arab World both have young, increasingly digitally connected populations. For this reason, the publishing industry has significant potential to contribute to sustainable development. In supporting the development of national reading cultures, strengthening the publishing industry often has a significant impact on socio-economic development. Reading, for example, broadens people’s imagination and opens minds to new possibilities and innovative ideas. Through this partnership, we will work with the IPA and local implementing partners on tough, systemic challenges, such a textbook shortages and rural literacy, which prevent a number of African countries from achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4.”
Hugo Setzer, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) said: “We are delighted to work with Dubai Cares because it shares a common belief in the role of books and quality teaching and learning materials in education. Publishers, and the International Publishers Association through initiatives like this, our SDG Book Club, and our African Seminar series, are committed to improving the education of children around the world. That doesn’t just mean access to books ‒ it also means structurally supporting the entire publishing ecosystem to create a network of authors, publishers, distributors, and libraries that can in turn support teachers and change the futures of millions of children in developing countries by encouraging sustainable development.”
Not only does Africa have amongst the fastest mobile and internet connectivity growth rates in the world, but the United Nations estimates that nearly 60% of Africa’s population is below 24. If real improvements are made in literacy and education and there is an enabling economic environment for jobs and investment, Africa’s youth bulge can be a catalyst for the future of African publishing and accelerated social and economic development. In 2018, the IPA initiated its Africa Seminar series which has evolved into a continent-wide, multi-sectoral platform for creative thinking, collaboration, and action to shape the future of African publishing. Through IPA’s seminars and cooperation with entities like Dubai Cares it is piloting innovative, replicable solutions to the African publishing industry’s most pressing challenges while supporting sustainable development.
Dubai Cares is playing a key role in helping achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning by 2030, by supporting programs in early childhood development, access to quality primary and secondary education, technical and vocational education and training for youth as well as a particular focus on education in emergencies and protracted crises, girls’ education and children with disabilities. So far, Dubai Cares has distributed over 6.6 million books written in local languages.