Dubai Cares will be no stranger to those that follow global education initiatives. Part of the UAE’s Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, Dubai Cares has benefitted over 18 million children and young people across 57 developing countries – 20 in Africa.

Now comes news that Dubai Cares has pledged AED 2,938,800 (USD 800,000) over 4 years to “support literacy, book access, indigenous publishing, and library restoration” across Africa, with Kenya and Morocco the initial countries targetted.

The MoU between Dubai Cares and the International Publishers Association will help move forward the IPA’s vision to,

support a range of initiatives to address pressing African publishing ecosystem challenges, build indigenous publishing capacity, and create national cultures of reading.

Image via IPA.

Signed on behalf of the IPA by Vice President Bodour Al Qasimi, and by Dubai Cares CEO Tariq Al Gurg, the press release notes Dubai Cares,

brings significant experience in literacy, educational publishing, and mother tongue education to the partnership.

For the IPA, Qasimi said,

Because it influences education, reading, and socio-cultural development, publishing can have a transformative impact on countries and individuals and serve as a tool to address challenges such as illiteracy, poverty, conflict, inequality, and unemployment. For this reason, IPA launched its Africa Regional Seminars series last year. Our work in Africa is based on quickly moving from words to action, and Dubai Cares is one of the most agile, responsive partners we could hope to partner with. IPA and Dubai Cares will be working with a range of on-the-ground partners, including publishers, policymakers, and civil society, to implement innovative, replicable solutions to transform the future of African publishing.

For Dubai cares, Al Gurg explained,

Africa and the Arab World both have young, increasingly digitally connected populations. For this reason, the publishing industry has significant potential to contribute to sustainable development. In supporting the development of national reading cultures, strengthening the publishing industry often has a significant impact on socio-economic development. Reading, for example, broadens people’s imagination and opens minds to new possibilities and innovative ideas. Through this partnership, we will work with the IPA and local implementing partners on tough, systemic challenges, such a textbook shortages and rural literacy, which prevent a number of African countries from achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4.

IPA President Hugo Setzer added,

We are delighted to work with Dubai Cares because it shares a common belief in the role of books and quality teaching and learning materials in education. Publishers, and the International Publishers Association through initiatives like this, our SDG Book Club, and our African Seminar series, are committed to improving the education of children around the world. That doesn’t just mean access to books ‒ it also means structurally supporting the entire publishing ecosystem to create a network of authors, publishers, distributors, and libraries that can in turn support teachers and change the futures of millions of children in developing countries by encouraging sustainable development.

Dubai Cares has already distributed over 6.6 million books in local languages, and digital presents an exciting opportunity for that distribution to be upscaled.

Digital in Africa? New readers here might find that something of a contradiction in terms, so it’s worth noting that the IPA press release has singled out the digital opportunity in referencing the way forward for Africa.

With 474 million people online, and projected growth to 800 million in the next decade, Africa is much further advanced down the digital road than most people realize.

Read the full press release here.