African Union Summit Highlights East Africa Trip

BFA delegation with Ambassador Chihombori-Quao and African Union officials in Addis Ababa, EthiopiaBooks For Africa Founder Tom Warth, Board President Jote Taddese, and Executive Director Patrick Plonski were honored to attend the African Union Summit, held at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! During the Summit an official handing-over ceremony was held in honor of Books For Africa’s recently launched partnership with the African Union. The ceremony was highlighted by a celebration of the arrival of a 40 foot container of BFA books, the first of many shipments to be realized as a result of this unique partnership! Read the AU press release regarding this donation here.

It was also announced that Her Excellency Arikana Chihombori-Quao, African Union Ambassador to the U.S., has accepted a role as Co-Chair of Books For Africa’s Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative! This role, previously held by the late Kofi Annan, plays a crucial role in helping this initiative put law and human rights materials in the hands of African law schools, bar associations, and other legal entities to help further the rule of law in Africa. Books For Africa is thrilled to have Ambassador Chihombori-Quao join former U.S. Vice-President Walter Mondale as Co-Chair of the Law & Democracy Initiative!

The African Union Summit was part of a larger trip by BFA leadership, which included stops in Dubai, Egypt, and Tanzania, in addition to Ethiopia. The team was able to connect with past project recipients and meet with future partners, including meetings with Florie Liser, Director of the Corporate Council on Africa and Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Mission.

BFA Executive Director Patrick Plonski, BFA Board President Jote Taddese, and President / CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, Florie Liser, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

These meetings included a follow up visit with our partners at the Ethiopian Knowledge and Technology Transfer Society (EKTTS). Last year Books For Africa announced a librarian training pilot program in partnership with EKTTS. This goal of this four-year agreement is to provide mentorship and assistance for approximately 50 libraries and their staff across Ethiopia – if the program proves successful this training program will be expanded to other countries. Two of a planned eight 40-foot containers of books have been delivered to EKTTS so far, and the early results of the training program are encouraging. Stay tuned for more details on this innovative collaboration!

BFA delegation with EKTTS team, and Miss African Union Lukwesa Morin at the EKTTS warehouse in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Executive Director Patrick Plonski also traveled to Egypt to follow up on a container of books shipped to Misr Public Library. This shipment was part of an initiative involving book deliveries to the Library, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Egyptian Parliament, and the University of Alexandria medical school, which received large quantities of Merck Medical Manuals.  Misr Public Library has 17 branches across Egypt, so this will be a county-wide effort.  Thomson Reuters provided a law and human rights library which will be provided to the Egyptian Parliament.  Funding for this container was organized by Tammie Follett of Thomson Reuters, Aida Khalafalla of the Minnesota Friends of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and many friends of Egypt here in Minnesota.  Books For Africa and Misr Public Library have discussed possibilities of additional book shipments that can be distributed across Egypt using this model.  Patrick Plonski with Misr Public Library officials in Cairo, EgyptAmbassador Abdel Raouf El Reedy, Chairman of Misr Public Library, tells us that "It is my pleasure [to receive] the wonderful collection of books donated by Books For Africa...These books will reach and benefit the Egyptian children in all the seventeen libraries of MPL system spread all over Egypt. On behalf of the children and others, I want to express to you our deepest appreciation. I trust that the cooperation which has just started between Books For Africa and MPL will be sustained to the benefit of all."