African Publishers Network (APNET) extends our deepest gratitude to all African publishers, publishers’ associations and other players in the publishing industry which constitute authors, editors, illustrators, designers, printers and booksellers as we mark this relevant celebration — World Literacy Day on this ceremonial day, 8th September.

Whenever a book (teaching, learning and reading material) is published there is a publisher behind it. Whenever a country boasts of a literate nation, there is a publisher behind it. A number of developmental realities have emerged in Africa — transition from no indigenous books and foreign dominance to increasing indigenous books to imbibe cultural values in our people.

World Literacy Day founded by the proclamation of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in 1966 “to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights is worth celebrating as it affords the industry the opportunity to reflect on the state of national literacy, associated problems and possible solutions to build and advance literate nations and African continent at large.

Since 1967, World Literacy Day celebrations have taken place annually around the world among other things to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. To say that nothing has been done by APNET, African publishers and industry players in relation to the development of literacy in Africa would be an understatement and to say that all is well relative to literacy in Africa would be an overstatement.

Africa is undeniably the continent in the world with the lowest literacy rates. Many studies have revealed disturbing findings on the state of literacy and the hindering problems in African countries and Africa. According to UNESCO, “despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million adults worldwide lacking basic literacy skills today”. Literacy rates in African countries are estimated at roughly 70%, according to African Union data released, lagging behind world averages of about 90% (Anadolu Agency, 2019). “Struggling education systems lack one or more of four key school-level ingredients for learning: prepared learners, effective teaching, learning focused inputs, and the skilled management and governance that pulls them all together” —2018 World Development Report by the World Bank Group — among other unsatisfactory findings on Africa and other few non-African countries.

It is time to redefine the perspectives of literacy — literacy goes beyond the ability to read and write a particular language. It involves a continuous system with pragmatic reading policies and inevitable inputs such as books to activate the functionality of human minds to solve societal problems for collective human and national development.

APNET encourages publishers not to give up with the existing challenges that impact negatively on publishing operations especially with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic that


has eroded most of our resources to advance this noble cause of building a literate nation and continent.

Also, publishing is dynamic and keeps developing as the world embraces technological advancement on daily basis. Therefore one modern publishing model that complements traditional publishing is electronic publishing. Surveys conducted by APNET over the years indicate that many African publishers are not publishing online due to a number of factors including fear of piracy, lack of knowledge and interest as well as inadequate training. Electronic publishing advances literacy without limit.

On behalf of the Board of APNET, I wish to commend all African publishers for publishing quality books in the midst of business risks and helping to promote literacy. We are also aware of the challenges publishers in each African country are going through. Let’s keep striving for our governments to appreciate the relevance of this neglected industry and to also appreciate that literacy has a direct correlation with national development thereby demanding the real antidote to the cure of illiteracy.

Long live APNET and Members! Long live African publishers!! Thank you.


Mr Samuel Kolawole Chairman
African Publishers Network (APNET)