Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture on Thursday called on stakeholders in the book industry to create opportunities to satisfy the ever-increasing demand in the industry.
He called for systems that would allow industry players to publish, distribute and circulate books within and across nations within developing countries.
“These demands have been recognised as integral aspects of economic and social development,” Dr Awal said at the launch of the 18th Ghana International Book Fair (GIBF), themed “Ghana: A Nation of Readers for Development,” in Accra.
The Fair aimed at creating an avenue for all players in the book industry including publishers, writers, printers, proof readers, librarians, Illustrators, research institutions, designers, telecommunication firms, non-governmental organisations, the banking sector as well as, other stakeholders to interact and foster strong links.
It was also to create the congenial conditions for an intra-African trade in books and literary materials, through showcasing the latest publications of the book industry, thereby making evident, the rich culture and education from the different geographical locations.
Dr Awal said most developing countries such as Ghana faced a myriad of problems, which in turn affected the book industry, and though there were potential conditions, which favoured the development of the book industry, the problems inhibited the growth of modern systems of the book industry in terms of publishing, distribution, and circulation of books.
“These problems have been identified as massive illiteracy, low consumer purchasing power, inadequate publishing capital, lack of institutional markets, shortages of paper and other printing materials, inadequate trained personnel which vary with geographical location and constitute formidable barriers to the development of the industry.”
The Minister noted that reading opened the gateway into new areas and allowed individuals to develop values and define their relationships with the world, as well as served as a renewed source of personal enrichment, saying “for everything we read concerning our environment and community, we plant a seed that germinates, and helps us to reflect our community as an image of itself, with its realities and fundamental beliefs.”
Dr Awal said in Africa, the system of education was historically and practically tied to the European colonial powers and that did not heighten the abilities and desires that released the energies to produce books for the environment.
He said hence, it was important to train textbook writers, editors, and illustrators to play those key roles.
“In training and Curriculum development, we must have the correct language to suit the local context and for purpose, and that would assist in the development of textbooks in our various countries. In Ghana, the Bureau of Ghana Languages (BGL), is also playing its role by helping to translate materials into local dialects.”
He said the government, though a key player, needed to be supported by players in the industry for success to be achieved.
He said e-library had come to stay and that industry player must “put their heads together” to discuss the way forward with digitisation of books.
Mr Asare Konadu Yamoah, Chairman GIBF, said the Fair was a three day event, starting from August 26 to 29, scheduled to take place at the National Theatre.
He said it would provide an excellent opportunity for the book industry stakeholders to determine the scope of interaction between the
various interest groups and establish an understanding purposefully for the promotion of cultural heritage through books.
He said the country through the government must have an elevated outlook for the book industry space, which had always been an integral part of the economic and social development sector, saying, in planning the country’s future, books must not be sidelined.
Mr Konadu Yamoah said there should be an interface between the agencies of the State with direct responsibility for engaging and promoting book development and the book industry.
He called on the Ministries of Education, Tourism, and Trade to provide incentives and support GIBF as a pillar in culture promotion, education and literacy and a potential contributor to the economic fortunes of the country.