African publishers lag behind in new technology for digital publishing â€' World Bank chief
Ambassador Olusegun Olusola, Chief M.O Akinleye and the chairman, NBFT, Mr. Samuel Kolawole during the presentation of award to Chief Akinleye at the Nigeria International Book Fair 2012.
Lagos (WorldStage Newsonline)-- Many African publishers are lagging behind compared to their counterparts in Asia, Europe and the America in the area of technology that now enables digitizing a work to allow for repurposing and repackaging into various formats and onto different platforms for use indifferent media, according to a World Bank chief, Mr. Richard Crabbe.
In his keynote paper on the 'State of Infrastructural Development in Africa and the Future of the Book Trade', at the Nigeria International Book Fair 2012 in Lagos, he said that increased access to the internet has unleashed new wave of self-publishing, saying previously writers could not get their ideas to the global marketplace with the publisher as intermediary , adding that the internet now gives writers unrestricted and instant access to an international audience.
He admonished African writers and publishers to take advantage of the new technology to get their works into countries where print books my never have reached.
The World Bank officer said infrastructure is a factor that has prevented African countries from successful integration into the global trading system, saying poor infrastructure was one the higher trade cost that Africa, especially its landlocked countries face compared with other region. He pointed out that poor infrastructure accounted for 40 per cent of transport costs for coastal countries and 60 per cent for landlocked countries.
“In information technology and on the internet, infrastructure is the physical hardware used to interconnect computers and users. Infrastructure includes the transmission media, including telephone lines, cable television lines, and satellites and antennas, and also the routers, aggregators, repeats, and other devices that control transmission paths. Infrastructure also includes the software used to send, receive, and manage the signals that are transmitted” he said.
He described one of the constraints on improving ICT penetration in Africa as low electrification , adding that Africa’s electrification rate as at 2009 was estimated at 42%, with coverage of 69% and 25% for Urban and rural areas, respectively. He noted that available projections for electrification rates indicate a steadily rising trend in the coming three decades to a rate of 51% in 2030.
“Developing human capital will involve public-private collaboration. Educational curricula, national development policies, and publishing industry strategies should align to develop and deploy skills. Working together to identify skills gaps, anticipate needs and plan ahead to equip the workforce” he Meanwhile, the Nigerian Book Fair Trust (NBFT), organizer of the Nigeria International Book Fair, said that it remained resolute to the objectives of improving the reading culture in Nigeria and bringing books closer to the people for better education and self- improvement.
The chairman, NBFT, Mr. Samuel Kolawole stated that the theme of the conference “the State of Infrastructural Development in Africa and the Future of the Book Trade” was aimed at addressing the salient factors of lack of basic infrastructural development plaguing the book sector in Africa and how best they can move make use of the available infrastructural resources to bring positive change to the book trade in Africa.
He pointed out that infrastructural development in Africa had been very poor in spite of the considerable amount of resources which have been deployed, saying by international bodies, the continent lags behind with the rest of the world in terms of the extent and quality of infrastructure.
“In most African countries, particularly the lower in-income countries, infrastructure emerges as a major constraint in doing business, and to a large extent depressing firm productivity. Thus the “Book “is negatively affected. Books have shaped minds, changed lives and fortunes, and have therefore changed history. Many people romanticize about the book and part of its beginning from the invention of Gutenberg, we often forget that the “Book” is a trade,” he said.
On what the future holds for the book trade in Africa, he noted that despite the poor infrastructural support for the “book” in Africa, the future of the industry was not a bleak one provided they are willing to see the problems that the gap created as challenges to be confronted, saying the challenges that will spur them into action and develop new strategies.
The climax of the event was the award presentation and honouring of twoindividuals, chief M.O Akinleye and Prof. Felicia Adetoun Ogunseye for their immense contributions to the growth and stability of publishing and book trade in Nigeria.