* Accra, becomes fourth African city after Alexandra, Port Harcourt, Conakry
NEWS coming Paris, France, indicates that Accra, the capital city of Ghana, has been named UNESCO World Book Capital for 2023. The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, announced Accra (Ghana) as UNESCO World Book Capital for 2023, following the evaluation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee.
After Guadalajara (Mexico) in 2022, the city of Accra was selected for its strong focus on young people and their potential to contribute to the culture and wealth of Ghana. Accra’s proposed programme seeks to use the power of books to engage these young people, as an effective way of skilling up the next generation.
The city proposed to the committee a broad programme that targets marginal groups with high levels of illiteracy including women, youth, migrants, street children and persons with disabilities.Measures to be implemented include the reinforcing of school and community infrastructure and institutional support for lifelong learning, in order to foster the culture of reading.
By championing the publishing sector and other creative industries, the programme also aims to encourage professional skills development to stimulate the country’s socio-economic transformation. Activities will include the introduction of mobile libraries to reach marginalized groups, the holding of workshops to promote reading and writing of books in different Ghanaian languages, the establishment of skills and training centres for unemployed youth and the organization of competitions to showcase Ghanaian arts and culture and promote inclusivity.
The application from Accra also includes a strong human rights dimension, which aims to raise public awareness about freedom of information and expression, building on its own promotion of these rights as well as its involvement in World Press Freedom Day. The year of celebrations will start on 23 April 2023, on World Book and Copyright Day.
Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading for all ages and population groups, within and across national borders, and to organize a programme of activities for the year. As the twenty-third city to bear the title since 2001, Accra follows Guadalajara (2022) and Tbilisi (2021).
Past capitals include Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Anvers (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogota (2007), Amsterdam (2008), Beirut (2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Erevan (2012), Bangkok (2013), Port Harcourt (2014), Incheon (2015), Wroclaw (2016), Conakry (2017), Athens (2018), Sharjah, (2019) and Kuala Lumpur (2020).
The UNESCO World Book Capital Advisory Committee comprises representatives of the International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), the International Authors Forum (IFA) and UNESCO.
Meanwhile, long before the award was announced, Ghana Book Development Council (GBDC) had expressed confidence that Accra would be named World Book Capital 2023. The council’s Executive Director ERnesticia Lartey Asuinura had based his conviction on the significant improvements made so far in the local book publishing industry.
Asuinura had recently estimated at an event with the theme ‘Positioning Ghana’s Education for Sustained Development’ that “UNESCO has a competition known as the World Book Capital to select a capital where countries are invited to put in bids to be named the world’s book capital in a year. The title is conferred two years in advance and in 2023 they have asked countries to send in their bids. Ghana has sent its bid and we believe Accra will be the World Book Capital in 2023”
She therefore encouraged Ghanaians to nurture the love for reading, reasoning that the more people read, the more books will be patronized and which will consequently motivate local publishers to produce more books.