Ms Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has named the Ghanaian capital city, Accra, as UNESCO World Book Capital for 2023 for its strong focus on young people and their potential to contribute to the culture and wealth of Ghana, following the evaluation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee.
Guadalajara, Mexico was chosen as the UNESCO World Book Capital 2022 for its comprehensive plan for policies around the book to trigger social change, combat violence and build a culture of peace, Accra follows after Guadalajara.
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.
Accra city proposed to the World Book Advisory Committee a broad programme that targets marginal groups with high levels of illiteracy including women, youth, migrants, street children and persons with disabilities. The city also added measures to be implemented to 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 lined up to celebrate it 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.
Accra’s application 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 begin on April 23, 2023, on World Book and Copyright Day.
Accra is the twenty-third city to bear the title since 2001 following after Guadalajara (2022) and Tbilisi (2021). Past UNESCO World Book 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).
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.
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 UNESCO.