Report by India Education bureau, New Delhi: The National Book Trust (NBT) is actively engaging with the publishing industry to reach unexplored markets such as Africa and South Asia. It is looking for long term investment opportunities in the publishing sector under India-Africa Forum.
This was stated by Mr. M A Sikandar, Director, NBT, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, at ‘PubliCon 2013’ organized by FICCI on the theme ‘Export Markets’ with special focus on Africa and South Asia.
Mr. Sikandar called for leveraging India’s strength in publishing academic books in English and said NBT’s key mandate is to promote Indian publishing industry both in the country and overseas.
Ms. Ira Joshi, Additional Director General, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, said that trade in cultural goods occupies a significant place in an economy and India is emerging as a professional destination for publishing work. With the advent of new technology, e-publishing and e-marketing are rapidly gaining a foothold in this sector. “We need to leverage this new technology to our advantage as e-publishing is an important source of revenue,” she added.
Ms. Joshi said there is a need to recognize that content is a vital factor in publishing industry and ensure highest standard of content. Also, to compete in the global market, it is important to upgrade skills, technology and machinery.
Mr. Tokunbo Falohun, Minister, Nigeria High Commission, said that Africa offers Indian publishing an excellent opportunity to export school and higher academic content to the African continent. India publishes books of international standard, and is comparatively cheaper than their Western counterparts. This offers a good option to scale export of books to African countries.
He said that the Africa book market is mainly centered on educational publishing. This is mainly due to demand in Africa for educational books. Compared to the developed world, the African publishing industry is too dependent on textbook publishing and procurement by the state, the World Bank and donor agencies.
The publishing sector in Nigeria appears to be quite vibrant and active. Nevertheless, there are several challenges. Even though there are copyright laws and an official Nigerian Copyright Commission, the Nigerian Publishers’ Association (NPA) has established an Anti-Piracy Committee to deal with the problem of piracy in the country, stated Mr. Falohun.Mr. Rohit Kumar, Managing Director - South Asia, Reed Elsevier India Pvt. Ltd., said, India has excellent relationship with Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and many other countries. “We have the experience as a country to produce low cost, affordable content that is relevant to local markets hence this is a natural extension of our historical collaborations. African nations and India would benefit from leveraging India as a publishing hub for all publishing services,” he said.
Also, the Indian government in a joint initiative with the African Union, has launched the PanAfrican e-network project, which will support tele-education, telemedicine, e-commerce, egovernance, infotainment, resource-mapping and meteorological. This project provides seamless and integrated satellite, fibre optics and wireless network, to be provided by India, will connect 53 learning centres, 53 remote hospitals, 5 regional universities, and 5 regional hospitals spread all over Africa. From India 7 leading universities and 12 super specialty hospitals will provide the expert domain services through tele-education and telemedicine respectively, explained Mr. Kumar.
Ms. Urvashi Butalia, Chairperson, FICCI Publishing Committee and Director, Zubaan, said a large Indian Diaspora is based out of African countries and now African authors are well-known in India. Hence, Africa is a lucrative market for Indian publishing industry. African markets have been traditionally dominated by the US and the UK but India and Africa are both emerging economies and have similar issues which will help them better understand each other and develop an egalitarian relationship.
Mr. Himanshu Gupta, Co-chair, FICCI Publishing Committee and Joint Managing Director, S. Chand Group, said that India produces publishing materials at one-tenth of the cost incurred by the US and the UK publishing sector. Africa and South Asia are markets where Indian publishers have shown great interest for export of educational content. India publishing has a lot to offer in terms of new ideas and innovative concepts. The two-day PubliCon 2013 is focusing on export markets for books and content, with the spotlight on Africa and South Asia. The focus will be on the potential for export of books and educational content from India to other emerging economies.
Dr. Arbind Prasad, Director General, FICCI, said, “We have a vibrant ecosystem of publishing. As per industry estimates, the publishing industry stands at around Rs. 12000 crore. We publish in more than 20 languages and produce over 100,000 titles per year. We rank third in English language publishing, after the US and UK.”
He said, “Amidst innovative models to expand to new markets, Africa can offer Indian publishers a brilliant opportunity to further increase its export potential particularly in the areas of school publishing and STM (Scientific, Technical & Medicinal) content. This year, we intend to focus on this promising market.”