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Conakry will be Africa’s ‘City of Books’

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After securing the title of World Book Capital 2017, Conakry in Guinea is sorting the necessary investment to ensure it remains Africa’s ‘City of Books’ for the foreseeable future.

Content Cows director Piet van Niekerk writes in Brussels Airlines inflight magazine b.Insired Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso is Africa’s ‘City of Cinema’, Abidjan in the Ivory Coast Africa’s ‘City of Music’, and now, thanks to millions being invested in reading and media centres, Guinea’s capital, Conakry, has its own claim to fame: books.

The city became the world’s 17th World Book Capital earlier this year having won the nomination from the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). That paved the way for a €7 million investment in reading centres in neighbourhoods across the city, while monthly events are also being held to promote authors, literacy and the importance of books.

Despite Guinea having an illiteracy rate of up to 40% in parts of the country, Conakry was singled out by UNESCO to be World Book Capital because of the quality and diversity of a new wave of government literacy programmes.

Van Niekerk quotes Mohammed Salif Heita, President of the Guinea Editors’ Association who says “everything can be learnt from books… We do not only acquire knowledge from books, books also stimulate thinking about the future, which requires more knowledge and stimulates development.”

Current investments in literacy activities and resources are being sponsored by the Guinean government, non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations, private sector sponsors and international networks such as the European Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Brussels Airlines.

Monthly events in Conakry are being hosted until the end of April next year (2018). Every month will also see a ‘72 hours of book reading’ event for members of the local community – particularly school children.

“Conakry wants to give literacy, a source of knowledge, the freedom to find a prominent place in Guinea,” says Aicha Diaby, commissioner of communications for Guinea World Book Capital.

A complete list of World Book Capital events in Conakry can be found online at conakrycapitalemondialedulivre.com.