By Iddi Yire/Jesse Owusu Ampah, GNA
Accra, Aug. 29, GNA – The 17th Ghana International Book Fair (GIBF), is underway in Accra to provide a platform for local and international book industry players to trade books and negotiate deals.
It is on the theme: “Reaching the World Market through Effective Book Distribution Networks.”
The four-day Fair, which was opened by Dr Ziblim Barri Iddi, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, would afford the public the opportunity to have access to a variety of books sold at highly discounted prices.
Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Art, in a speech read on her behalf, said documentation of the history and culture of the people, which was a primary function of publishing, was critical to the future of the nation.
“In this publishing climate, culture was always unfortunately subsumed to business,’’ she said.
The Minister noted that the process of finding meaning in books or making meaning from them was one that went far beyond any commercial transaction.
“We have a publishing industry in Ghana that has about 85 per cent concentration on the textbook market.”
“It is sometimes very frustrating and worrying to move round bookshops for books on our heritage and culture and would not find much.”
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi noted that it was understandable that publishing was a business, with profit maximisation being the driving force, however publishers owed mother Ghana a duty to bequeath to the unborn generation a well-documented history and culture.
With regards to the theme of the Fair, the Minister advised industry players to invest more into publishing contents with no territorial boundaries.
She said internet based approaches such as metadata, websites and Facebook were other effective tools for limitless distribution of books.
“There is a huge demand for our rich folklore, traditions, culture and heritage globally,” she said.
Mrs Oteng-Gyasi said great nations became great because they fed the world with their indigenous culture through the creative industry such as movies, music and books.
“Moreover, Ghana as a nation could benefit immensely from the publishing industry going global through the sale of our rich culture to the world.”
Professor Stephen Adei, the Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, who delivered the keynote address, said getting people to become literate was so important not only for their personal benefits but also for the good of the nation.
He said it was education which makes the difference between people, and urged parents to inculcate reading habits in their children right from the tender age.
Mr Eliot Agyare, the Chairman of the 17th GIBF Organising Committee, said the Fair had played the twin role of being a cultural and business hub for national and international publishers interested in doing business in the ECOWAS sub-region.
He said this year’s Fair was taking place against the backdrop of seismic changes in the education sector, with the introduction of a completely new curriculum.
Mr Abdul Rahman Dialo, the UNESCO Country Representative in Ghana, said UNESCO advocates for assigning a fundamental role to culture when it came to matters of international cooperation and mutual understanding.
He said books, freedom of expression, creativity, the circulation of ideas unfettered by international borders were major elements of the cultural dimension of human life.
Mr Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah, the Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, said one of his primary objectives was to turn Accra into a city of art, where creativity was nurtured and supported to blossom.
He said the City Authorities would strive to make sure that Accra became another world book city.