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The International Publishers Association (IPA) has received a huge response to its call for proposals to tackle Africa’s remote education challenges, which have been dramatically exacerbated by the global Covid-19 pandemic. Shortlisting is underway to decide winners of the US$200,000 African Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF) in 2021-2022.

More than 300 proposals have been received from 26 countries across Africa, and now begins the task of vetting the submissions, a duty which falls to the body that oversees the fund, the APIF Committee, comprising publishing executives from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and South Africa, under the leadership of IPA Vice-President, Bodour Al Qasimi.

The best ideas will go through to a second round, where the applicants will be required to fill out a detailed application form and budget forecast. Then in autumn the APIF Committee will whittle down the applications and ultimately decide which projects to support, and the size of their grants.

Bodour Al Qasimi says: ‘The response this year has been far beyond anyone’s expectations, thanks partly to a streamlined online application process and communications push. But the level of interest and the range of ideas coming in is further proof that Africa is bursting with entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas. With the APIF’s support some of these ideas will become reality and have a lasting positive impact on education where it is needed.”

The APIF is a four-year, USD 800,000 fund provided by Dubai Cares, the UAE-based global philanthropic organisation, and administered by the IPA. The decision to incentivise learning innovations to help African students pursue their education followed the confinement measures imposed worldwide in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 190 countries have had to close schools and universities, affecting more than 1.5 billion school-aged children – around 90% of the world’s student population.

Sheikha Bodour believes that Africa is a hugely important emerging market that been adversely affected by the lock down measures introduced in the last four months.  The APIF seeks to lend a helping hand by rewarding the best schemes put forward to get African students and readers back on track.