A look back at the Abidjan International Book Fair with Anges Félix N'Dakpri

At the SILA, we have decided to make the youth the main target audience of the fair.

The Abidjan International Book Fair (SILA) took place from May 14 to 18, 2024. A major event for book industry professionals, this year's fair was associated with the Ressources éducatives project, initiated and funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and implemented by UNESCO and the Institut français. We reflect on the fourteenth edition of SILA with Anges-Felix N’Dakpri, the General Commissioner. 

Updated on 02/07/2024

5 min

Salon International du Livre d’Abidjan (SILA)
Lors de l'édition 2023 du SILA © Salon International du Livre d’Abidjan (SILA)

The SILA has just celebrated its fourteenth edition. Could you introduce the fair and reflect on this latest edition? 

Anges Félix N’Dakpri: The SILA is a literary event initiated in 1998 by the Association of Publishers of Côte d'Ivoire, of which I am now one of the honorary presidents. The aim was to create a platform to promote the national book industry. While SILA has been around for twenty-five years, we've held fourteen editions due to the political and social upheavals our country has experienced. It is both a professional event, intended for national and international stakeholders in the book industry, and an institutional one, with the Ivorian state closely involved. Organizations supporting the book industry at an international level are also represented. Above all, it is a public and popular event, aiming to democratize the book among the population across all social strata. 

This fourteenth edition, which just took place, was held for the first time at the Parc des Expositions in Abidjan. It was a great success, with 125,000 visitors and sales revenue of 75 million CFA francs, with five thousand titles sold. This demonstrates the vitality and dynamism of SILA, as well as the African publishing scene. This year, we also had the first-time visit of the President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire and his wife. We are, therefore, in a very favorable position as we look forward to the next edition, which will be held from May 6 to 10, 2025. 

Ressources éducatives - Salon international du livre d'Abidjan 2024
Ressources éducatives - Salon international du livre d'Abidjan 2024

This year, the Educational Resources project by the French Institute was a partner of SILA. What were the modalities of this partnership? What did it bring to SILA? 

Anges Félix N’Dakpri: This project truly added value to this edition. Although Côte d'Ivoire is not a directly eligible country for this programme, we, along with the Institut français, believed it would be beneficial to host representatives from over ten countries where Ressources éducatives is deployed, in the spirit of sharing experiences. This was a highly successful experience on human, professional, and economic levels, generating numerous business opportunities. This partnership particularly enabled SILA to refine its professional programme, which was exceptionally dense this year, featuring panels, workshops, roundtables, and training sessions to enhance everyone's expertise. We are very pleased with this exchange and hope to renew it for the next edition. 


The Ressources éducatives project is dedicated to children's books. What are the reading habits of young people in Côte d'Ivoire? 

Anges Félix N’Dakpri: In Côte d'Ivoire, as in almost all African countries, the dominant market is the school textbook market. However, the children's literature market is also very active and interesting, both for children and teenagers. This genre, in all its diversity, generates genuine interest among various stakeholders in the book industry. Several Ivorian publishing houses are making significant efforts to dedicate a substantial place to this literature. Beyond the economic interests of this strategic market, there is, of course, the cultural, social, and educational mission. As a tool for initiation and learning, children's literature also occupies a prominent place in various school curricula. It also allows us to reach families and embed books at the heart of households, making books everyday companions for children. At SILA, we have decided to make youth the main target audience of the fair. Additionally, we have three national literary awards dedicated to youth: the Jeanne De Cavally National Prize for children's literature and the National Rising Talent Prize in the primary and secondary school categories. 

Anges Félix N’Dakpri
Personne Citée
Anges Félix N’Dakpri, General Commissioner of SILA
The book must contribute to breaking down linguistic barriers.

What are the current challenges faced by children's book professionals in West Africa? 

Anges Félix N’Dakpri: Inspiring and encouraging a love for reading and writing among young people to promote cultural diversity. Books play a crucial role in strengthening self-esteem and cultural identity, as well as stimulating artistic expression and literary creativity. This contributes significantly to children's development. These characteristics, which combine images with text while highlighting Africa's rich civilisation, offer numerous avenues to explore. Children's literature ultimately supports the idea that the history of the African continent should be written by Africans and for Africans, without being distorted by external interests. Through this literature, we should promote historical and contemporary heroes and figures who have shaped the continent's history.

As for the main obstacles, I would say that industrializing African publishing requires mastering the entire process, from creation to production, distribution, promotion, and accessibility. In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, we face the challenge of distributing and ensuring the real-time availability of books across different regions of the country. The technological challenge, with digital books and audiobooks as complementary formats to paper books, offers real possibilities and opportunities to reach a new global audience. 

The book plays an important role in strengthening self-esteem and cultural identity. It is also crucial for stimulating artistic expression and literary creativity.

This year, the fair was organized in several segments, with a professional programme, and the country of honor was Kenya. What were the highlights of the fair? 

Anges Félix N’Dakpri: The book must contribute to breaking down linguistic barriers, and we felt it was important to bridge the gap between Francophone and Anglophone Africa, as exemplified by Kenya. This country is a model in terms of book policy and educational system. This exchange allowed for a true sharing of experiences. 

Another significant aspect was our professional programme, which was particularly developed this year with the organization of a major buyer-seller forum on the selling and purchasing of rights. This, after all, is what adds flavor to a fair. Not to mention the six national literary awards and the tribute event centered around the figure of Béchir Ben Yahmed, organized in partnership with Jeune Afrique. Lastly, we had the Scrabble competitions and the national dictation event, organized in cooperation with the Rotary International club, which takes place simultaneously across the country. 

Actu - ressources éducatives

About "Ressources éducatives"

The Educational Resources project, initiated and funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and implemented by UNESCO and the Institut français, aims to enhance the access of primary and secondary school students in Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa to a set of quality educational resources. Learn more 

L'institut français, LAB