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International Publishers Association (IPA) President Bodour Al Qasimi during her tour of pandemic-hit publishing markets in Kenya. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: International Publishers Association (IPA) President Bodour Al Qasimi has continued a tour of pandemic-hit publishing markets by visiting Kenya, whose national publishing industry is one of many reeling from COVID-19.

Al Qasimi met local publishers and the leadership of IPA member Kenya Publishers Association (KPA) as part of an IPA drive to boost publishing worldwide. Her arrival in Kenya follows a trip to Egypt in early January to meet the Arab Publishers Association (APA) and the Egyptian Publishers Association (EPA), two more organisations that are concerned about their industry’s post-COVID prospects.

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On both occasions, Al Qasimi presented the IPA’s 2021 vision to develop strategies to return global publishing to full strength and enable it to continue making its vital contribution to education, social development and knowledge economies.

Addressing KPA officials and Kenyan publishers, Al Qasimi said: “The pandemic exposed some important underlying issues in the publishing world, and its impact continues to reverberate. This is why we are assembling a cross-sectoral task force comprising publishers, authors, illustrators, distributors, wholesalers, printers, and like-minded others. We will engage all stakeholders across the value chain and draw up a road map to help the book industry to be more resilient and move onwards and upwards, to everyone’s benefit.”

Meetings in Kenya

In Nairobi, Al Qasimi also met the Kenyan member of the IPA’s Africa Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF) committee, Lawrence Njagi, and local innovators who had won APIF bursaries in 2020. These included journalist and storyteller Maimouna Jallow, whose ‘Positively African’ project used the grant to develop a collection of short stories into a three-part audio drama called ‘Tales of the Accidental City’, which has been adapted into a film for release on February 13.

The IPA President also visited the Makadara and Kaloleni branches of Nairobi’s historic McMillan Memorial Library. Both buildings are being lovingly restored by the Book Bunk Trust thanks in part to a $50,000 (around Dh183,650) APIF grant towards the Kaloleni project, which was completed in July 2020, and a separate donation from the Sharjah World Book Capital project for the Makadara work.