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Celebrating Books, Promoting Reading: Accra is UNESCO’s 23rd Book Capital

On April 23, 2022, Accra embarked on a year-long journey of activities to engrave its name on the UNESCO map as the 23rd World Book Capital.

The World Book Capital (WBC) was introduced by UNESCO to reward cities for promoting books and promoting reading for one year starting April 23, which is World Book and Rights Day. ‘author.

Cities designated as World Book Capitals by UNESCO offer activities to encourage a culture of reading at all ages and share UNESCO values.


With Accra winning the title for 2023, through the year-long activities, Ghana stands to benefit as the UNESCO Book Capital will help create a pathway for discovering and nurturing creativity.

Since the activities of the event will be spread over a year, it is planned to bring together all the actors of the book industry within the framework of the projection of the book and the importance of the book and of reading.

The event is therefore an opportunity for authors to be motivated to produce good manuscripts for publication. Local book industry players, such as authors, publishers, designers and illustrators, printers, booksellers and distributors, will be projected globally.

It is also an opportunity for a strong increase in sponsorship and book sales. So, winning the title will also boost the local book industry, Accra, as well as the country as a whole.


Each year, the official UNESCO website publishes an open call for applications from cities around the world. The open call for applications for 2024 was published in February 2022.

The nomination does not include any financial prize; it rewards the best programs dedicated to books and reading.

The Director-General of UNESCO at the time is responsible for designating the cities following internal and external consultations with the other members of an Advisory Committee.

The committee, which meets annually, is composed of a representative of the International Authors’ Forum (IAF), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the International Association of Publishers (IPA) and a UNESCO representative.

In order to ensure a balanced representation of all regions of the world, the Advisory Committee does not consider consecutive nominations of cities from the same region.

In addition, the committee will only consider a candidacy for a city in a country where another city has been UNESCO World Book Capital after a period of 10 years or more, since the nomination of the previous host city.


To be considered, the mayor of the city submitting the application must approve the program presented by the city to the nominating committee for consideration.

Programs run from one World Book and Copyright Day to the next.

Program proposals from applicants are normally assessed against six criteria:

The submission of a program of activities specifically designed for the World Book Capital and implemented during the city’s term as Capital with long-term benefits for partners and society in general; a general overview of planned expenditures and fundraising strategies; and the degree of municipal, regional, national and international involvement, including professional and non-governmental organisations, and the foreseeable impact of the programmes;

Furthermore, the quantity and quality of one-off or permanent activities organized by the candidate city in collaboration with national, regional and international professional organizations representing writers, publishers, booksellers and librarians respecting the various players in the book supply chain and the scientific and literary community;

Also, the quantity and quality of any other noteworthy project promoting and promoting books and reading; and compliance with the principles of freedom of expression, freedom to publish and disseminate information, as set out in UNESCO’s Constitution, as well as Articles 19 and 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by the Agreement on the Importation of Educational Information, Scientific and Cultural Material (Florence Agreement), as well as compliance with the Charter of the United Nations and relevant United Nations resolutions.

Ancient capitals

The first designated UNESCO World Book Capital was Madrid (Spain) in 2001.

An agreement was reached between the partners that, after Madrid, the next capitals would be Alexandria in 2002 and New Delhi in 2003.

The other previous winners are Antwerp (Belgium) for 2004; Montreal (Canada) for 2005; Turin (Italy) for 2006; Bogota (Colombia) for 2007; Amsterdam (Netherlands) for 2008; Beirut (Lebanon) for 2009; Ljubljana (Slovenia) for 2010; Buenos Aires (Argentina) for 2011; Yerevan (Armenia) for 2012; and Bangkok (Thailand) for 2013.

The others are in Port Harcourt (Nigeria) in 2014; Incheon (Republic of Korea) in 2015; Wroclaw (Poland) in 2016; Conakry (Republic of Guinea) in 2017; Athens (Greece) in 2018; Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) in 2019; Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 2020; Tbilisi (Georgia) in 2021 and Guadalajara (Mexico) in 2022.

Accra thus becomes the third city in Africa to have been nominated for the enviable position of UNESCO World Book Capital after Port Harcourt and Conakry.