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Port Harcourt named World Book Capital 2014

12th July 2012

Port Harcourt in Nigeria has been named UNESCO World Book Capital 2014, beating off strong competition from Oxford, which was aiming to become the first British city to receive the honour.

Despite planning a strong programme that included the redesign and opening of the Bodleian Weston Library and the completion of the city's Story Museum, Oxford was overlooked by the Selection Committee in favour of Port Harcourt, which becomes the 14th city to be designated World Book Capital.

The committee said the city was chosen on account of the quality of its programme; particularly its focus on youth and the impact it will have on improving Nigeria's culture of books, reading, writing and publishing to improve literacy rates.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova welcomed the number and quality of applications received and praised the winning bid.

'I extend my congratulations to the city of Port Harcourt for the quality of its proposed programme, which provides for extensive public participation and aims to develop reading for all,' she commented.

'I wholeheartedly endorse the commitment of Port Harcourt to support literacy through the activities organised for the year.'

Tony Stratton, chairman of Oxford Inspires, which helped to coordinate the city's bid, said the effort put in will not be in vain.

'While we are sad our bid was unsuccessful, it has been a catalyst for raising awareness of national literacy challenges and for putting real commitment and energy behind working for change. Nothing of this work will be wasted,' he added.

Port Harcourt's year as World Book Capital will begin on April 23rd 2014, following Bangkok's tenure, which begins next year.

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