Africa-based entrepreneurs and innovators are encouraged to pitch their ideas via the APIF website, after which the APIF will provide a detailed application form to be filled and returned to [email protected].

After a thorough vetting process, the winners will be selected by the IPA Africa publishing innovation committee, comprising senior publishing leaders from:
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Nigeria
  • Tunisia, and
  • South Africa
The council will be under the leadership of IPA vice-president Bodour Al Qasimi.

According to the IPA, the APIF is a four-year, $800 000 USD fund provided by Dubai Cares, a UAE-based global philanthropic organisation, and is administered by the IPA. The decision to incentivise learning innovations to help African students pursue their education follows the unprecedented, near-universal lockdown.

Around 190 countries have had to close schools and universities, affecting more than 1.5-billion school-aged children, which account for around 90% of the world's student population.

The IPA says that distance learning in Africa faces multiple difficulties, notably poor Internet coverage in rural areas, cost and students' lack of technical means and funds to follow courses.

According to UNESCO, 89% of learners in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to a computer, 82% have no Internet access and around 56 million learners live outside mobile networks. These challenges create 'a worrying digital and remote learning gap'.

Qasimi says, "The immediate effects of lockdown are clear, but the risks of serious, longer-term harm to education are only beginning to be understood. COVID-19 has taught us that technology can protect people and enable life and learning to continue."

"But this technology is not accessible to everyone. We are looking for bright minds and clever solutions to overcome these challenges in Africa by bringing learners, teachers and educational materials closer at a safe distance," adds Qasimi.

H.E. Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive officer at Dubai Cares and member of its board of directors, says, "The COVID-19 pandemic could be seen as a tipping point to digital transition in the publishing industry in Africa."

"This global health crisis also represents an opportunity for African publishers to put forward innovative solutions that will help them map strategies to overcome future challenges. We look forward to witnessing a high turnout among entrepreneurs and innovators in Africa along with their unique solutions and ideas in support of the publishing industry," concludes Gurg.

According to the IPA, this will be the second round of bursaries awarded under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in May 2019 between Dubai Cares and the IPA. 

In 2019, five African projects each won $20 000 from the fund, while a library restoration in Nairobi was allocated $50 000.

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