Publishing industry vital to quality education in Africa – WIPO chief Francis Gurry

The Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Francis Gurry, has said a healthy and viable publishing industry is vital to achieving quality education in Africa.

Gurry spoke on Wednesday at the ongoing WIPO High-Level Regional Conference in Yaounde, Cameroon.

The two-day event, themed, ‘The Publishing Industry in Africa and its Role in Education and Economic Growth’, is organised in conjunction with the Ministry of Arts and Culture of the Republic of Cameroon.

Present at the opening ceremony were the Prime Minister of Cameroon, Philemon Yang, and the Minister of Arts and Culture, Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, with 150 delegates from 40 countries of the world.

Gurry, in his video message which was played during the ceremony, said Africa boasted of the largest pool of young persons in the world, which could make the continent the centre of human resources in the future.

He said since Africa was also emerging as a knowledge economy, it was important for the continent to consolidate its position by strengthening the education sector through viable publishing industries.

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While stressing the importance of education in the Sustainable Development Goals, he said Africa must protect its writers and authors to enjoy a “sustainable economic existence” by institutionalising copyright regulations.

He said, “Education, arguably, is the basis of all economic and social life. It’s especially important in all context for all countries and continent; Africa, especially, because it is in the process of transformation and emergence into the knowledge economy. We see signs of this vitality throughout the continent, particularly in East Africa, where Kenya has been a leader in mobile payment systems.

“And in addition to this emergence into the knowledge economy, for which education is fundamental, we also have the characteristics of Africa as being the greatest pool of young persons throughout the world. In 2015, there were 226 million young people in Africa, constituting 19 percent of the youth population of the world. That number is expected to double by the year 2055. Africa will be, quite obviously, the centre of human resources.

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“The food for education is publishing and the content that is produced to feed the whole education process. Vital to the economic value chain is the institution of copyright, which provides the economic model by which the publishing industry and the creators and authors are able to enjoy a sustainable economic existence.

“To fulfil the role of providing quality education, one needs not just publishing, but quality publishing or if I may say, culturally relevant publications, culturally relevant contents and education materials. That is the importance of the establishment of viable publishing industries throughout the African continent. Central to the economic model for such viable publishing industries is the institution of copyright. Africa is vibrant, important and emerging into the knowledge economy with the assistance of viable publishing industries.”

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