Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria has become the first African city South of the Sahara to be chosen as World Book Capital 2014. The city edged out other ten cities like Oxford in England and Moscow in Russia via public voting. The erstwhile World Book Capital- Bangkok formally handed over to Port Harcourt on April 23rd, a day set aside to mark the 2014 UN World Book and Copyright Day.
The handover ceremony was witnessed by Governor Amaechi; former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar; Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka; UNESCO Director General, Ms. Irina Bokova; former World Bank Vice President, Africa, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili; wife of the Governor, Dame Judith Amaechi; Enger Tele Ikuru, Deputy Governor of Rivers State to mention a few dignitaries.
According to Governor Rotimi Amaechi, “Port Harcourt was chosen because UNESCO could see the great investment Rivers State has made in the education of our youths, and they could see the advancement we have recorded. Out feats in the area of education that assisted in making Port Harcourt the World Book Capital City is unequalled by any African leader, either in the past or present, churning out over 500 model Primary Schools and 24 Model Secondary Schools that are termed to be better than some universities in Africa, and employing about 13,000 teachers, offering free education with free books and computer-based schools within six years. We are ready to collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure that Port Harcourt is adjudged the best World Book Capital ever in the history.”