Books | Education

Accra wins UNESCO World Book Capital for 2023

Accra has won the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Book Capital for the year 2023. This was contained in a press release by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay on 22nd September 2021.

Accra will therefore host the title from 23rd April 2023, which is celebrated globally as the World Book and Copyright Day, to 22nd April 2024.

Accra’s bid for the 2023 title was chosen by UNESCO, ahead of those of other cities including Budapest (Hungary), Jakarta (Indonesia), Constanta (Romania), and Saint-Marc (Haiti). Thus, Accra becomes the 23rd city to hold the title, coming after Guadalajara (Mexico) in 2022.

Currently, the title is held by Tbilisi (Georgia), whose tenure started on 23rd April 2021 and will end on 22nd April 2022. The statement from UNESCO stated that Accra’s bid was selected for its strong focus on young people and their potential to contribute to the culture and wealth of Ghana.

Every year since 2001, UNESCO awards the World Book Capital title to a designated city. The bid for the title is highly competitive.

In addition to being prestigious, the title is used to promote the domestic book industry, libraries, books, reading, creating awareness on literacy issues, and a lively book culture. The title is also used to promote tourism and the cultural heritage of the city. Winning the title is therefore an important symbolic acknowledgment of the city and the country as a whole.

The winning city must demonstrate the progress it has made in advancing book publishing, promotion of the UNESCO Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials (Florence Agreement), and access to information among others.

The city must also demonstrate that it has the capability in terms of infrastructure, expertise, conducive environment, and the ability to raise the necessary funds to execute the yearlong programme around books to celebrate the title year. Upon designation, the city is to promote books and reading among all the various age groups in the city, the country and internationally in general.

Accra’s winning of the 2023 title is therefore an acknowledgment of UNESCO’s recognition of the numerous efforts being made to develop the habit of reading and promotion of books in Accra and Ghana at large.  The planned programmes to mark the title year will also contribute substantially to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) in Accra and Ghana.

Under the theme ‘Reading to connect minds for social transformation’ the programmes planned for the title year will focus on particularly the youth and vulnerable groups in Accra (and Ghana at large) such as children, underemployed women, head-porters (kayayei) and persons living with disability, to equip them with literacy and employable skills, while promoting the rich Ghanaian cultural heritage and the book industry in Ghana.

Six major projects, each with a different focus, will be undertaken during the title year, i.e., 23rd April 2023 to 22nd April 2024, to realize the objectives of the title. The total estimated cost of the programmes is about three million Euros. (€3,000,000) to be funded by both public and private sponsors.  

Each of these projects entails many activities to be held in collaboration with diverse stakeholders, both public and private bodies. The legacy project will be the provision of diverse infrastructure to promote reading, including the construction of a Reading Village in Accra.

UNESCO does not make any financial commitments to the winner but the nomination as a World Book Capital City has enormous economic and socio-cultural benefits. Thus, the economic benefits that will flow from Accra’s winning of the title include a boom in the tourism and hospitality industry arising from increased inflow of tourists to Accra and Ghana in general during and after the title year.

The domestic book industry will also benefit from increased patronage of books, reading and library facilities, among others. Not only will writers, publishers, printers, book distributors, etc. benefit economically from the increased patronage of books and reading, they will also be exposed to the international community.

Furthermore, the title will also help promote the rich cultural heritage of Accra and Ghana in general to the international community.

The bid for the title was under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and was led by the Ghana Book Development Council (GBDC) in close collaboration with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). Other partners were the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ghana Commission for UNESCO, Ghana Publishers Association, Ghana Library Association, Complimentary Education Agency and the Ghana Association of Writers.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.