International Publishers Association (IPA) President, Bodour Al Qasimi, has encouraged Ivory Coast’s publishers to remodel their businesses as part of an IPA drive to rebuild publishing as a more resilient and sustainable sector.

Al Qasimi was in Abidjan meeting members of l’Association des Editeurs de Côte d’Ivoire (ASSEDI, Ivory Coast Publishers Association) to discuss current challenges and ways book publishers can adapt to new industry dynamics.

The publishers briefed the IPA President on how COVID-19 had brought their national industry to its knees, sending book sales through the floor due to stringent virus containment measures, such as school closures and cancellations of book fairs.

Rethinking business models will be paramount to the survival of Africa’s book sector, where a near-total reliance on textbook production leaves it vulnerable. In addition, more African governments are entering the educational publishing arena, and remote education is fast becoming the norm.

Addressing ASSEDI officials and local publishers, the IPA President said: ‘Lasting solutions to Africa’s publishing, literacy, and book accessibility challenges will require African ownership, African innovation and African energy. While these are very testing times for publishers, this is also an opportunity to think big and to design new business models and strategies with a focus on international, as well as national, markets.’

In Abidjan, Al Qasimi also met Albert Nsengiyumva, Executive Secretary of the Association of the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), to explore potential IPA-ADEA collaborations to champion quality, inclusive education across Africa.

Ivory Coast – the third leg of Al Qasimi’s tour – followed visits to Egypt and Kenya. At each stop, the IPA President has gathered frontline market intelligence from the national publishers associations and listened to their fears about the deep socioeconomic uncertainty.

Al Qasimi has also been presenting IPA’s 2021 vision to develop effective, research-based strategies to regenerate global publishing as a resilient, future-proof sector. This will entail engineering robust business ecosystems within which thriving publishers can enhance their essential contribution to education, social development and knowledge economies.

The IPA President was also received by Kandia Camara, Minister of National Education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training. They agreed that how academic publishers in Ivory Coast need to pivot to producing digital courseware to improve their prospects for growth.