Accra, the capital of Ghana, has been named as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Book Capital for 2023.
The selection of Accra is an opportunity to use the power of books to engage young people as an effective way of skilling up the next generation.
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.
This was contained in a press release signed by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, following the evaluation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee.
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 after Guadalajara in Mexico has been earmarked to be the 2022 edition of the UNESCO World Book Capital event.
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 that have been put in place to be implemented during the event include the reinforcement of school and community infrastructure and institutional support for lifelong learning to foster the culture of reading.
Aside from the event 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.
The theme for the year
The year of celebrations will start on 23 April 2023, on World Book and Copyright Day on the theme, “Reading to connect minds for Social Transformation”.
Activities earmarked for the commemoration of the event include the introduction of mobile libraries to reach marginalized groups, workshops to promote reading and writing of books in the various Ghanaian languages.
Other activities also include 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 legacy project will be a reading village for the city of Accra.
The bid for the event was under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and led by the Ghana Book Development Council (GBDC), in close collaboration with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), as well as the Ghana Commission for UNESCO, Ghana Publishers Association, Ghana Library Association, Complimentary Education Agency, Ghana Association of Writers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, Minister of Education, congratulated the team for the effort put in to win the bid.
He added that coming on the heels of the Ghana Library Authority winning the 2021 Library of the year award by the London International Book Fair Excellence award, it shows the progress being made in the book sector, saying “plans to host the year will commence immediately and the general public will be informed in due course”.
‘I am super excited to host such an international event which will allow this nation to participate in a world-class activity to tell the story of Ghana to the rest of the world’. He said.
Dr Adutwum assured the world that Ghana would use the event to showcase its rich culture and other things worth bringing to the attention of the world.
The successes of the World Book and Copyright Day was launched in 1996 and this encouraged UNESCO to develop the concept of World Book Capital City selecting Madrid for the maiden world event in 2001.
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 (IAF) and others.
Accra is the twenty-third city to bear the title since 2001, as it follows Guadalajara (2022). Other past capitals include Tbilisi (2021) Kuala Lumpur (2020), Sharjah, (2019) Athens (2018), Conakry (2017), Wroclaw (2016), Incheon (2015), Port Harcourt (2014), Bangkok (2013), Erevan (2012), Buenos Aires (2011).
The rest are Ljubljana (2010), Beirut (2009), Amsterdam (2008), Bogota (2007), Turin (2006), Montreal (2005), Anvers (2004), New Delhi (2003), Alexandria (2002), Madrid (2001).