APNET - Capacity Building
As stated in the Constitution, in 1992 APNET members spelt out as part of the network's raison d'etre "to assist in the creation and strengthening of national publishers' associations in Africa". APNET committed itself "to work towards formal establishment of an African Publishers Association noting that APNET is the interim body of such a union". APNET has since then been promoting collective action and networking at local, regional and international level. Having come into existence at a time when indigenous publishers associations were few, it has championed networking by stimulating and supporting the creation of National Publishers Associations (NPAs) where they do not exist and in other instances, reactivating NPAs that already existed.
APNET’s membership development programme has therefore been a key function of the network and it has borne fruit.
By 1998 the network had established contacts in 27 countries. Of these, 20 were represented by national publishers associations, i.e. Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In the remaining seven countries, APNET was represented by an appointed member whose responsibility it was to catalyse the formation of an NPA in his/her country.
It was increasingly evident that for indigenous publishers to address the multiple challenges they faced at local and international level they needed NPAs with greater capacities. To be functional, some NPAs require staff, offices, equipment and a plan of activities or projects.
APNET has a role to play in promoting at all levels, the recognition of the book as a strategic tool for Africa’s transformation through education, literacy, culture, communication and development. To fulfil its mission to strengthen and promote African publishing, it is necessary that APNET support NPAs as a vehicle through which to build African publishers’ capacities in (a) leadership and management; (b) technical competence and professionalism; (c) policy analysis and advocacy; (d) networking and alliance building; (e) research, data collection, analysis and dissemination; and (f) resource mobilisation. By so doing APNET will strengthen existing capacity in Africa to produce quality books in adequate quantities and at affordable prices.
The NPA is an important vehicle in bringing together publishers at local level. Further, NPAs play a critical role in enabling indigenous publishers to accomplish together what they cannot on their own achieve. A dialectical relationship exists between NPAs and the umbrella, APNET: the stronger the NPAs, the stronger APNET will be. NPAs are the local replica of the continental network. If strengthened, the NPAs hold the key to APNET’s growth and its material, financial and technical sustainability.
To date 16 new NPAs have been established raising the number where the network has established contacts from 27 to 46. An appointed member represents one country while 9 still need to confirm their full participation in APNET activities and programmes. Since 1999 when the NPA support programme was launched, 14 NPA secretariats have been set up and nine are still running. 14 NPAs were connected by e-mail and 6 got new phones and faxes. Contacts have been made with all regions and representation has been done during workshops and book fairs.
For more details on the Capacity Building programme please contact