On 9 May, IPA holds a Regional Seminar in Lagos, Nigeria. We interview Gbadega Adedapo, member of the IPA’s Executive Committee, President of the Nigerian Publishers Association and CEO of Ramsed Publications Ltd about the seminar.
You can learn more about the IPA Regional Seminar “Publishing for Sustainable Development: The Role of Publishers in Africa” here.
IPA: Why is it important for IPA to hold this sort of regional seminar?
GA: On behalf of the African region publishers, we appreciate IPA for organizing the seminar in Lagos. It is important more as an empowerment programme for Africa as part of IPA’s work to promote and protect publishing. This is especially important now that quality education is one of the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UN SDGs). The seminar will look at the role of publishers in the development of Africa and take inspiration from other regions, so that Africa does not lag behind in contributing to the SDGs.
This seminar is important for IPA, too. It is the first time such an important international gathering will be held in what might be called the African heartland and is an international landmark event focusing exclusively on the contribution of publishers – economically, educationally, socially and culturally – to African nations.
I think it also repositions the presence of IPA in the African region as an organisation for all publishers across all continents and represents an opportunity to promote international publishing standards.
IPA: Are there any particular highlights in the programme that you would like to point out?
GA: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – an outspoken Nigerian novelist – will deliver a keynote address. The six panels will tackle issues that are either of particular importance to Africa, or of importance to both Africa and the world of publishing beyond these shores.
Of the six sessions, Publishing in the 21stcentury: The socio-economic contribution of the publishing industry in Africa is one that will give an overview of publishing’s contribution to Africa’s GDP. It will also look at how governments could tap into the opportunities that will open up when supporting the publishing industry and unlocking their potential through favourable policies and providing grants that would take the industry to greater heights, promoting cross-cultural and cross-border relationships.
The whole programme was carefully put together to enable publishers to learn about the role of technology in overcoming illiteracy as well as getting to know about new approaches which could be leveraged to promote reading.
IPA: What can the IPA bring to publishers in Africa?
GA: IPA brings well-versed speakers and panelists from different countries as well as a way of uniting the voice of African publishers and writers, harmonising the interest of all stakeholders for the benefit of all. Apart from uniting African publishers, Africa would benefit from the facts, opinions and working strategies that have solved many issues in other regions.
IPA: There are two sessions covering IPA’s pillars: copyright and freedom to publish – what is the current situation in Nigeria in these two areas?
GA: On copyright, Nigeria is working on passage of the bills of the new copyright law which is about to be passed. The document constitutes input from all stakeholders not leaving out the assessment by IPA and we are all confident its passage and enforcement would bring a lot of positive changes to quality education, protection of Intellectual Property, the publishing industry and consequently on the nation’s economy
On freedom to publish, continuous sensitivity is required for the populace to be tolerant and ensure that messages of writers are not misconstrued as an act to tarnish the image of constituted authorities. Opinions expressed in books should add positively to everyone, criticism should be taken with a positive mindset. Just as people appreciate accolades, we should also be ready to take negative feedback and improve in those areas that require some sort of the adjustment.
IPA: You speak of your positive hopes for the upcoming Nigerian copyright law. What do you think of Nigeria’s position in the Africa group in WIPO that supports exceptions for educational uses?
GA: The position of the Nigerian government as part of the Africa Group in WIPO is for a broadening of exceptions and limitations in the field of education, libraries and archives. I believe their position is wrong. Local African publishers need to be supported by their governments and the best way of doing that is to put in place a strong and stable copyright regime across the continent.
IPA: What do you hope are the next steps after this seminar and IPA’s involvement?
GA: I hope that the seminar strengthens the relationship between IPA and African Publishers Network (APNET) and that publishers and stakeholders will take advantage of the event to develop unity, extend any lessons learnt to their own activities, thereby increasing their contribution to the UN SDGs on quality education.
We also hope this regional seminar format is extended to other regions such as to Eastern, Northern and Southern Africa.