LAGOS – The Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, on Tuesday called on stakeholders in the book industry to partner with the Federal Government in reducing unemployment in the country. Tambuwal made the call at the official opening of the 13th Nigeria International Book Fair (NIBF) at the University of Lagos. The theme of the conference is: “Emergence of e-Book and the Survival of Physical Book in Africa.” The speaker, who was represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Education, Aminu Sulaiman, noted that book industry had contributed immensely to the growth of the country’s economy. He, however, stressed the need to protect the industry without posing any threat to players in the advancement of technology. Tambuwal said this could be done not just by legislation, but for the relevant bodies to ensure that such laws were enforced. He said the Nigerian 7th Assembly recognised the need for collaboration with other stakeholders in the Nigeria project in ensuring that the populace was not shortchanged as regards their expectations and yearnings from the government. The speaker, who is also the special guest, said the House of Representatives through its various committees, was reviewing some laws on copyright among others. He said the House had equally taken steps in ensuring that the use of electronic book was regulated.
“We as the representatives of over 150 million people of this nation are mindful of our responsibilities and commitment to our people amidst the challenges being encountered as a nation and would not relent in discharging those duties,” he assured. Tambuwal noted that the theme of this year’s NIBF conference called for sober reflections on the dangers posed by the electronic book to the book industry. He said: “It is important to acknowledge the fact that this technological age where virtually everything has gone digital and sources of knowledge have been made handy and accessible through electronic gadgets. “However, the negative impact of this on the economy of the nation and the continent at large as well as our reading culture among our people cannot be ignored. “There is no gainsaying that the reading culture in this age is at its lowest ebb and this calls for concerted efforts to reverse the trend.” In a keynote address, Dr Victoria Okojie, said the emergence of e-book market in Africa was at infant stage, noting that countries like South Africa were more advanced than the others.
Okojie, who is the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Librarians’ Registration Council of Nigeria, said many African countries were experimenting with various partners to develop local initiatives especially introducing school curriculum on tablets.
She noted that research was still relatively low and data were not readily available.
Okojie, however, warned that to discountenance and downplay the survival of e-book would be at great personal and collective risks. She stated that many Nigerians and perhaps, Africans did not embrace the computer when it first arrived due to irregular power supply and inadequate user skills. Okojie noted that today computer had thrived, saying anybody or business concern that ignores its uses does so at its own peril. “The e-Book is definitely here to stay just like the physical books .What we do not know of a certainty is which model it will arrive on our tables. “ Therefore, let us in the book trade sector examine the e-Book, embrace it, be a part of it, own it and drive its future direction.
“We will not regret it, never again should Africa be left behind as this is yet another golden opportunity for Africa to showcase best practices and leadership,” she said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Nigeria Book Fair Trust, Mr Samuel Kolawole, said that it was obvious that the digital era had revolutionised access to information and promoted teaching and learning as well as research with little or no limitation.
He, however, suggested that the issues and challenges posed in the area of publishing in Africa in the digital age could only be addressed if there was reliable energy access in many African countries.
Kolawole also spoke on the need to tackle the vexed issues of piracy and unauthorised distribution of digital and online contents among others. (NAN)