Joint Workshop Organised by ADEA WGBLM, APNET and PABA

17 Jun 2012 to 18 Jun 2012
Cape Town
South Africa

Revisit and document the main barriers and opportunities militating against the African book trade




The ADEA WGBLM intends to sponsor yet another forum for African book professionals to continue the dialogue that was initiated in October 3-5, 2011, in Nairobi Kenya. As can be appreciated Book Development encompasses various issues, one of which is the possibility of the various African countries trading with one another to disseminate information now readily available in many African countries through effective bookselling. Since books and/or information easily become acceptable due to their efficacy, it is prudent that book professional seriously discuss ways to make them easily cross borders and therefore enable readers all over benefit from the rich sources of information that have been published across Africa. Having been a key player in African education and stimulant of African publishing activities, ADEA believes that there currently exists a pool of useful literature that has to be enabled to cross borders and effectively contribute to educational and cultural initiatives across Africa.


In developed countries, the book trade significantly accounts for revenue generation that enables the countries create wealth and improve lifestyles of its citizens. This revenue runs into billions of dollars, a substantial amount of which comes from Africa particularly through importation of tertiary books that are traditionally produced in Europe, the US and India. For a number of years now Africa has continued to import books from other continents to its own detriment. Although there may not be reliable statistics as to the number of books produced in Africa, it is assumed that some countries for instance, Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal in the West African block, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, in the East, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe in the South have a good stock of published materials that can form the basis for intra and inter Africa book trade and thus spur the movement of relevant books within and between African countries. This is critical since most African countries have common experiences culturally, socially and politically, and therefore it would make more sense for such countries to begin to trade with each other, thereby providing synergy and spurring development through improved education and lifelong learning.


The aim of the workshop is to serve as a forum for dialogue and cooperation, firstly, between African professionals in the book trade and, secondly, with their foreign counterparts who attend the book fair in Cape Town, in order to review and prioritize ways to cooperate to promote book distribution produced in Africa.


Based on an operational review of the findings and recommendations made at the Nairobi Conference to promote African books organized by ADEA in 2011, the objectives are as follows:

  • To revisit and document the main barriers and opportunities militating against the African book trade;
  • To identify priority channels for cooperation that can be strengthened to create the best conditions for the development of the intra- and inter-regional book trade in Africa;
  • To explore avenues for policy dialogue to engage with sub-regional economic organizations to facilitate trade in African books;
  • To re-activate and update the Partnership Agreement (MoU) that has united PABA and APNET over the past dozen years.


The regional associations in the book trade namely APNET, Afrilivres, PABA, PAWA and others have for some time now not been able to meet due to various constraints. ADEA has found it necessary to initiate forums to reactivate dialogue and sharing of experiences among book trade practitioners in order to spur educational development across Africa. Given the low standards in many African countries it is desirable that such a forum be held to help carry on the book development agenda for Africa, which unlike in other continents has not received much attention by national governments nor even the Africa Union.

It is hoped that this forum will accord the opportunity, especially for the key actors in the book trade, namely publishers and booksellers the chance to restore dialogue and initiate joint activities as envisaged almost ten years ago through a Memorandum of Understanding engineered by the ADEA WGBLM in Harare, Zimbabwe. This MOU was meant to regularise relations between the two key actors for the purposive development of the African book trade in support of educational efforts across the continent.


30 participants drawn from the Pan African Booksellers Association (PABA), the Association Afrilivres and the African Publishers Network (APNET) and other key partners are expected. The participants will be drawn from across Africa to enable broad based discussions and sharing of best practices.


After the workshop it is hoped that the following will be achieved:

  • The establishment of a framework for the exchange and sharing of recent promising efforts that have been undertaken in the participants’ various countries to make African books available and accessible in those countries.
  • The definition of realistic and achievable strategies to be proposed to the ADEA Working Group on Books and Learning Materials (WGBLM) with a view to initiating political and strategic contacts with sub-regional organizations in this field across the continent.
  • The refining and updating of the partnership agreement between the APNET and PABA, wherever necessary, with a view to its formal renewal by the two Boards of Directors, followed by dissemination to the members, the Pan African organizations interested (at the sub-regional and regional level) and the other technical and financial partners.
  • Drawing a report of the deliberations and sending the recommendations to all concerned.