President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo says the naming of Accra as the UNESCO Book Capital for 2023 is an acknowledgement of the giant strides the country and Africa have made towards the development of the book and creative arts industry.
He said a year-long programme to celebrate the honour would commence on April 23, 2023 and invited other UNESCO members on the continent to the occasion.
The President was speaking in a pre-recorded video at the opening of the Regional Meeting of Africa National Commissions for UNESCO in Accra yesterday.
The three-day meeting is being attended by UNESCO representatives from across Africa, Germany, Canada and France.
As key stakeholders of the Global Priority Africa programme, the participants will deliberate on the continent’s collective actions towards a renewed implementation agenda.
Topics being discussed include transforming education to accelerate progress on SDG Four targets in Africa, harnessing priority African programmes for socio-economic progress: Key issues, challenges and opportunities, and biodiversity conservation for peace and development in Africa.
President Akufo-Addo said hosting the conference in Accra was another important milestone in the country’s commitment to the work of UNESCO and in particular to the Global Priority Africa programme, into which Ghana had the opportunity to make significant contributions in its initial orientation in the early 1980s.
“Our world continues to change, with new and complex challenges; as such, the programme must respond to the needs of the changing times,” the President said.
He said the country’s partnership with UNESCO dated back to 1962 when Ghana hosted the first Africa Centre for Education Information and Research, saying “through the centre, we contributed significantly to the work of the organisation in Africa, with strategic interventions to promote education in the region”.
Regarding the media, the President said the country had always strongly supported UNESCO’s efforts at building a free independent and pluralistic media, particularly the legal framework and democratic institutions that supported it at the national level.
“We observe with admiration UNESCO’s contribution over the years to the operationalisation of the UN action plan on the safety of journalists and the fight against impunity,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said the country believed in development in freedom, including the freedom of expression and of the media.
The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Awal, said the government was investing $25 million to improve the tourism and cultural sectors, since they were key to the accelerated development of the nation.
The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, said the future of Africa depended on how well young men and women were trained.
Ghana’s Ambassador to France, Ms Anna Bossman, who chaired the event, said the meeting was crucial, following the adoption of the new operational strategy of Global Priority Africa at its 41st general conference.
The Assistant Director-General of Priority Africa and External Relations, UNESCO, Firmin Aedouard Motoko, expressed appreciation to delegates for their participation.
For his part, the UN Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, called for further strengthening of the UNESCO national office to help develop strategies for each country to ensure that the footprint of the organisation and UN response were better harnessed.