Did you know there are 300 million French speakers worldwide today, up almost 10% since 2014, and a recent survey showed that 44% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa?
“French-speaking Africa is known for its material poverty. One element of this poverty is the lack of Christian literature resources in the French language. The need for French-language Bible study materials is, and remains to be, an even more profound source of poverty for the region.” These are Daniel Bourdanne’s words as he emphasized the importance of translating the Africa Study Bible into French.
Presses Bibliques Africaines
Working to meet this need is Presses Bibliques Africaines (PBA) the 2019 recipient of the Robert B. Reekie Global Publisher Award, an annual award by Media Associates International (MAI) recognizing ministry excellence by a Christian publisher serving in a challenging context. PBA is the publishing house of the GBUAF (Groupes Bibliques Universitaires d’Afrique Francophone), the IFES student ministry in Francophone Africa. GBUAF covers 19 countries and PBA distributes books in all those countries.
PBA was started in 1985 in Abidjan and after 22 years moved to Benin. The vision of the publishing house is to transform French-speaking readership with quality Christian literature produced by Africans. PBA authors must be Africans, and their writing must not lean towards a specific denomination.
|Full Name||Presses Bibliques Africaines|
|Titles published to date||130|
|Fun fact||Operated from Abidjan for the first 22 years|
|International awards||2019 Robert B. Reekie Global Publisher Award (MAI)|
|Affiliation||IFES-GBUAF (Groupes Bibliques Universitaires d’Afrique Francophone)|
In 2017 and 2018, ten titles were published each year, nine in 2019, seven in 2020 and eight in 2021. Five books were reprinted in that period, and the plan is to publish 12 books this year. The books are printed in Europe (Island of Malta, France) with the number of books printed raging from 1,000 – 5000 copies. The publishing is staffed by 4 permanent staff and has a general Christian readership cutting across churches, pastors, leaders, youth, women, academics, researchers, students and IFES staff.
Georges Late, the PBA Manager sees the difficulty in convincing people from an oral context to buy and read books as a big challenge of publishing in Francophone Africa. With regards to the prevalence of poor literature that is not consistent with the right Christian doctrine, he says “we have a responsibility to provide good literature at an affordable price, which is not easy.” The distribution of books published in the west for free has entrenched the mindset that Christian books must be free and African Christians seem unwilling to finance books’ production. This contributes to constant cash flow problems for the publishers.
The book is a true missionary that has no borders
Having been within the publishing industry for 13 years now, he knows well the challenges of being put on the job without basic training and identifies staff training as critical for a well-qualified team necessary to improve production quality. Being part of a network of African Christian publishers will be beneficial for publishing houses like PBA. “We have always sought opportunities to work in collaboration with older publishing houses to learn from them and be inspired by their success.”
Looking To The Future
In a parting shot Georges says, “If we are networked, we will be even stronger and more resilient in the face of the many challenges that try to wipe out small publishing houses.”
A core conviction of Africa Speaks is that a flourishing Christian publishing industry in Africa is an important component of fulfilling the mission of God and will benefit the people of Africa and the whole world and thus the urgency to fulfil our mandate to call all players to join us in the strengthening of a flourishing Christian Publishing industry in Africa.