There were many panels at the International Publishers Association Seminar hosted in Nairobi from June 14-15, 2019.
One of the most effective ways of people getting information at events of the magnitude of the IPA seminar is panels. Experts in a specific aspect of the industry would sit with a moderator then share their experiences with the assembled delegates. They were well received in the main as people learned new things or realised that the experiences in other African countries mirrored their own fostering kinship. The one thing that was evident with them, however, was that they were too many people sitting in panels which were usually only one hour long. With four or five people being moderated over such a short period it meant one got to listen very little from each of its panellists.
The panels for delegates to enjoy included “Textbook Policies: Reaching the Goal of a Textbook for Every Child in Africa” moderated by Lefa Publishing and Research Services director Brian Wafawarowa. His panellists were Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development CEO and Director Dr Julius Jwan, Association for the Development of Education in Africa Executive Secretary Albert Nsengiyumva, Senegalese Publishers Association Secretary General Fatou Sy, and Textbooks Consultant Richard Crabbe. In this session, they discussed the scarcity of learning materials in African schools, the issues it causes for the region, and potential solutions for reaching the goal of a textbook for every child.
Another panel was “Copyright Protection and the Threat of Piracy” which was moderated by International Publishers Association Secretary General José Borghino. On the table were discussions on the adoption of new models for compensation using frictionless purchasing experiences and ethical appeals. Panellists were League of Arab States director Dr Maha Bakhiet, Copyright Society of Malawi Executive Director Dora Susan Salamba-Makwinja, Companies and Intellectual Property Authority, Ministry of Trade and Industry of Botswana Copyright Administrator Keitseng Nkah Monyatsi, and Kenya Copyright Board Executive Director Edward Sigei.
Then there was the Maimouna Jallow moderated “Developing Africa’s Next Generation of Publishers, Writers, and Artists.” The session drew on the experience of younger publishers, writers, and artists to understand the current state of Africa’s publishing ecosystem. On that panel were the author and journalist Dr Peter Kimani, Hekaya Initiative founder Abdulrahman ‘Abu Amirah’ Ndegwa and Storymoja Africa CEO Dawn Makena.
Then there was the panel “Digital Transformation and Disruption in African Publishing” moderated by Okadabooks.com CEO Okechukwu Ofili. That panel discussed how emerging markets are now the main source of publishing industry growth and how digital transformation was allowing developing publishing markets to leapfrog into the future. On the panel were Digitalback Books founder Gersy Ifeanyi Ejimofo, CIO East Africa chairman Harry Hare, Publiseer founders Chidi Nwaogu and Chika Nwaogu alongside African Storybook coordinator Dorcas Wepukhulu.
A popular panel was “The Growing Threat of Self-Censorship” moderated by Norwegian Publishers Association MD Kristenn Einarsson. On the panel were Truth and Dignity Commission of Tunisia President Sihem Bensedrine, PEN South Africa Centre Coordinator Khanya Mncwabe, cartoonist Gado Mwampembwa, University of Nairobi’s Dr Tom Odhiambo, and Information Regulator of South Africa Chairperson Pansy Tlakula.
Kenya Publishers Association Chair Lawrence Njagi moderated the panel “Creating the Readers of the Future.” Sharing their expertise on this topic were Worldreader Regional Director, East Africa Joan Mwachi-Amolo, eKitabu co-founder and CEO Will Clurman, Oxford University Press East Africa General Manager John Mwazemba, and author and publisher Zukiswa Wanner.
The panel “Lost Tongues: The Struggle to Preserve Indigenous African Languages” was moderated Jalada Managing Editor Wanjeri Gakuru. On her panel were the author and lawyer Petina Gappah, East African Educational Publishers MD and CEO Kiarie Kamau, Centre for International Advanced and Professional Studies Director Dr Anthony Kila , Kiswahili and African Languages Associate Professor Dr Kimani Njogu, and Puku Children’s Literature Foundation Executive Director Elinor Sisulu.
African Publishers Network chair Samuel Kolawole moderated the panel “Data Innovation: Developing Data and Statistical Capabilities to Support the Publishing and Creative Industries.” His panel had Akwaba Culture Association President Isabelle Kassi Fofana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Senior Lecturer Monica Aba Brew-Hammond, South Africa’s former Statistician General Dr Pali Lehohla, and Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Director General Zachary Mwangi.
Nigerian Publishers Association President Gbadega Adedapo was in charge of the manel giving an update on the Lagos Action Plan that came about after the inaugural IPA Seminar in Nigeria last year. On that all male panel were Kenya Publishers Association Chair Lawrence Njagi, African Publishers Network Chair Samuel Kolawole, Nigerian Copyright Commission Director General John O. Asein, African Publishers Network Acting Executive Director Ernest Oppong, Cote D’Ivoire Publishers Association President Anges Félix Ndakpri, Lefa Publishing and Research Services Director Brian Wafawarowa who is also the chair of the, IPA Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee.
There was a panel where Copyright was discussed in depth with East African Educational Publishers MD and CEO Kiarie Kamau taking the role of moderator. Sharing their expertise were Copyright Clearance Centre Executive Director Michael Healy, Head of Legal Services at Central Bank of Kenya Dr Marisella Ouma, WIPO Senior Counsellor Carole Croella and, Longhorn Publishers MD Maxwell Wahome.