The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina  has been  awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters (Honaris Causa) of Makerere University.

Dr. Adesina being bestowed upon an honorary Doctorate Degree by Makerere University Chancellor Prof. Ezra Suruma

The honor is in recognition of his distinguished contribution to Science, research and academic leadership, Reform and thought leadership; Catalysing Africa’s social and economic progress; Partnerships, networks and advocacy for development.

The award ceremony was held during the fifth and last session of the Makerere University 71st Graduation Ceremony on Friday 21st May 2021 at the University Freedom Square.

Dr Adesina flew to Uganda to physically receive the prestigious award accompanied by a nine – man’s delegation.

The delegation comprised of Mr. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, Country Manager, Mr. Modibo I. Toure, Special Envoy, Shareholder Relations (Africa), Mrs. Nnenna Nwabufo, Director General, RDGE and Mr. Olajide Oyewusi, Special Assistant to the President.

Other delegates that accompanied Dr. Adesina were   Ms. Phanice Kwambok, Bank Consultant, Mr. Djibril Moussa, Protocol Officer, Mr. Franck Eric Yao, Security Officer, Mr. Guy-Roland A. Tayoro, Audiovisual Technician and Mr. Paul Mutha, Protocol Officer.

Mak Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Chair Council Mrs Lorna Magara, Mak Chancellor Prof. Ezra Suruma take a photo with Adesina after the award

Flanked by his delegation, Dr.  Adesina paid a courtesy call onto the Vice Chancellor and the Chancellor Makerere University where they discussed strategic issues of importance to the university and thereafter, joined the academic procession from the Central Teaching Facility one (CTF1) to the University Freedom Square.

In his address to the congregation, the Chancellor Makerere University Prof. Ezra Suruma extended warm welcome to Dr. Adesina and thanked him for accepting the invitation to physically attend the ceremony.

“We thank Dr. Adesina  for the excellent work he is doing to uplift the African people and for honoring us with his presence today. As the African countries struggle to overcome the huge negative effects of COVID 19, I am sure that they will find a vital and sympathetic ally in the African Development Bank”, said Prof. Suruma

Dr. Adesina interacts with the Mak Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (3rd) and the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs Assoc. Prof. Umar Kakumba on arrival

The Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said the  University was proud to honor  Dr. Adesina for his illustrious service for Africa.

“Makerere University has benefited from your visionary leadership at the African Development Bank through the Banks support to infrastructure, graduate training, research and innovations.

The bank has tremendously contributed to our strategy to be a research led university. Congratuilations!,” Prof. Nawangwe stated.

Presenting the   Honorary Doctorate Justification, the Principal, Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Prof. Bernard Bashaasha described the African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina as “Africa’s Optimist-in-Chief”.

“Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina is widely lauded for his visionary leadership and passion for Africa’s transformation. Formerly the Nigerian Agriculture Minister, Dr. Adesina was first elected President of the African Development Bank on 28 May 2015. He was re-elected for a second five-year term on 27 August 2020 with 100% of the votes of the Bank’s shareholders, regional and non-regional — the first such in the history of the Bank since 1964.” Prof. Bashaasha said.

The Principal informed the congregation that Dr. Adesina graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics (First Class Honors) from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Nigeria, in 1981 and was the first student to obtain a First Class Honors in Agricultural Economics in the history of the university.

Dr. Adesina stnading besides the Orator Prof. Bernard Bashaasha as he presents the Honorary Doctorate Justification

In addition, Prof.  Bashaasha reported that Dr. Adesina holds a master’s degree (1985) and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics (1988) from Purdue University in the United States of America, where he won the Outstanding Ph.D. thesis award for that year, and; also in 1988, won the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Fellowship, which launched him into his international career.

“A prolific writer with over 75 academic publications including having supervised seven Ph.D. students to completion, Dr. Adesina was the brain behind the Regional Collaborative Masters’ Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics, the development of rice value chains in West Africa, the African Fertilizer Summit in Abuja, Nigeria, and the first ever electronic wallet scheme that facilitated delivery of subsidized farm inputs to farmers, among many other initiatives.

Dr. Adesina is widely consulted by, among others, by the World Bank, United Nations, World Food Programme, FAO, UNDP, USAID and other development partners interested in the progress of Africa, particularly in the areas of innovative financing of Africa’s development priorities”, Prof. Bashaasha -the orator stated.

Prof. Bernard Bashaasha the Orator carrying Dr. Adesina’s Ceremonial Rob in a procession flanked by Prof. Noble Banadda

Prof. Bashaasha told the congregation that Dr. Adesina has implemented numerous reforms that have led to considerable gains including; Opening five regional offices across Africa; Sustaining the African Development Bank’s Triple A rating; Growing the Bank’s loan income by over 40 percent; Achieving the Bank’s highest ever allocation of net income to reserves; Initiating Africa Investment Forum to help drive private investments in Africa and, Spearheading the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa.

The orator justified the award of the prestigious Makerere Honorary Doctorate  upon Dr. Adesina  on grounds that he has also  led major initiatives at the Bank that have seen: 20 million people connected to new and/or improved electricity through ‘Light Up and Power Africa’; 74 million people gaining access to improved agricultural technologies under the ‘Feed Africa’;10 million people benefiting from private sector investment projects under ‘industrialize Africa’; 69 million gaining access to better transport services through ‘integrate Africa’ and; 43 million benefiting from improved access to water and sanitation under ‘improve the quality of life of the people of Africa.

Prof. Bashaasha said that Dr. Adesina has been recognized with many awards. In 2019, he received the prestigious Sunhak Peace Prize in Seoul, South Korea receiving an award prize of US$500,000 that he has donated to the ‘The World Hunger Fighters Foundation’.

Dr. Adesina sitting in the Dias after the award

In 2019, he joined the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition and was appointed by the UN Secretary General as one of the global leaders to help tackle global malnutrition while in 2018, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Management Science from Nigerian Defense Academy.

In 2017 alone, Dr. Adesina received an Honorary Doctoral Degree from The Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria; The Order of the Griffin from Purdue University and was also  ranked among the top 15 of the 100 most influential global leaders of multilateral development organizations.

Still in 2017, Prof. Bashaasha reported that Dr. Adesina received The World Food Prize “generally known as the Nobel Prize for Agriculture’ receiving an award of US$250,000 he donated to establish, ‘The World Hunger Fighters Foundation’ and the YARA Prize Laureate, Oslo for African Green Revolution; receiving a cash prize of US$100,000 donated to set-up scholarships and prizes to promote African agriculture.

In 2015, Prof. Bashaasha went to mention that Dr. Adesina was awarded an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Agriculture by Purdue University and, besides being named the Most outstanding Minister in Nigeria in 2014, he was also named the Most influential African of 2012 and one of the 100 most influential Africans of 2014;

In 2013, the orator said, Dr. Adesina was elected by Forbes Africa as the ‘Person of the Year’ 2013; In 2011, awarded Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters by Franklin and Marshal College (USA) and; won the 2010 Laureate of the Borlaug CAST Prize, USA.

Prof. Bernard Bashaasha the orator and Dr. Adesina in the Freedom square before the award

The Principal went on to say  that in 2010, Dr. Adesina was elected Distinguished Africanist Scholar by Cornell University; In 2008, awarded the distinguished agricultural alumnus award by Purdue University and; In 2005, he was awarded the title of Outstanding Black Agricultural Economist.

“On 31 October 2019, Dr. Adesina led the African Development Bank to achieve the highest capital increase since the Bank’s establishment in 1964, when shareholders from 80 member countries raised the general capital from US$93 billion to a historic US$208 billion. With Dr. Adesina at the helm, the Bank responded boldly to the coronavirus pandemic. On 3 April 2020, the premier development finance institution launched a landmark US$3 billion COVID-19 Social Bond followed by a COVID-19 Crisis Response Facility of US$10 billion.

Dr. Adesina was named African of the Year 2019 by one million readers of the African Leadership Magazine. On 14 December 2020, the Academy of Public Health, the flagship body of the West African Institute of Public Health, announced him as one of the winners of its 2020 Distinguished Fellowship Award for his successful efforts in helping Africa to curb the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Under Dr. Adesina’s leadership, US magazine Global Finance named the African Development Bank the “Best Multilateral Financial Institution in the world for 2021”. Prof. Bernard Bashaasha -the orator concluded that the candidate Dr. Adesina deserved to be  honored.

The orator Prof. Bernard Bashaasha (L) and the Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe adorn Dr. Adesina with the Ceremonial Rob

The Orator together with the Vice Chancellor adorned the celebrated AfDB President Dr. Adesina with the Makerere Ceremonial Robe and thereafter led to sit on the chair facing the Makerere University Chancellor Prof. Ezra Suruma for the conferment of the Honorary Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) of Makerere University.

In his acceptance speech Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina expressed gratitude to the University Council, the Vice Chancellor and officers of the university for this great honor of receiving an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the prestigious Makerere University.

“The name Makerere translates in my local Yoruba language in Nigeria into: Ma-ke-re-re or “megaphone of good news”. You are indeed a megaphone of good news! It is such good news to join the roster of your distinguished honorary graduates of Makerere!” Dr. Adesina said.

Dr. Adesina commended Makerere for her innovations saying, his association with the University dates back over 29 years while he was working as Associate Director of the Rockefeller Foundation when he had the privilege of working with, and supporting several  faculty members and students of the university.

Dr. Adesina delivering his acceptance speech

“My mind goes back 20 years to how I worked to support the university as we launched an effort to turn bananas into shelf – stable flour that can be reconstituted into matooke- to remove  the drudgery on women for mashing and preparing it for pounding”,

Dr. Adesina recounted how they conducted a survey among women whether they would prepare matooke for their husbands on Fridays after making their nails and advised the President on making flour from matooke. He said they were able to support scientists in the Department Food Technology to come up with shelf –stable flour which is easily prepared into matooke that must have saved many marriages from divorce.

The AfDB president recalled the work they supported to provide access of farmers to tissue  culture banana across the country, through  a financing program that he set  up then to leverage financing for farmers at scale with the Centenary Rural Development  Bank.

“I remember the investments we made in developing the collaborative Masters Program in agriculture and applied economics which I helped to lead. The program has now grown into a world class program including here at Makerere University and Prof. Bernard Bashaasha was one of the major collaborators, and continues to be an outstanding leader for the advancement of the program across Africa.

I remember our support to the RUFORUM, an initiative to build capacity for PhD training across agricultural faculties in Africa, so ably led by Prof. Adipala Ekwamu”, Dr. Adesina recollected.

Dr. Adesina expressed pride that today, he is seeing some fruits with Makerere University ranked number 8 in Africa and the highest ranked in Sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa.

Happy moment as Dr. Adesina dances with the Dance and Drama team after the award

He reported that the African Development Bank was proud to have invested $ 96 million in the Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) Project that ended in 2019.  He said the bank support of $ 26 million to Makerere university helped to construct two central teaching facilities, a four storied building with fully equipped lecture and seminar rooms and a 5 –storied building with an auditorium with the capacity of 1000 seats at a time.

He noted that they also supported the construction of a modern diagnostic laboratory with equipment, a biotechnology laboratory worth $1 million, a geographic  Information Systems Laboratory and  a computer laboratory.

Dr. Adesina said he was proud of Makerere University and very proud of Makerere university graduates who are known for in the labour market to be a top notch.

As for the day’s graduation, Dr. Adesina commended the university for paying attention to female students. 51% of the 12550 graduating students this year are female, compared to  49 %  for male.

“I will cherish this Honorary Doctorate from Makerere university, as it will always bring back for me great memories of my work and partnership with the university. Makerere university will always remain dear to my heart.

Once again, many thanks to the University Council, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe ad Prof. Bernard Bashaasha for nominating me, and conferring on me this great honor”

To the graduands of the Mak 71st Graduation ceremony, the AfDB President had this to say: “ I wish you all the graduates of the Class 2021, a very bright future ahead. Go out there and let your light shine brightly for Africa. Go out and make Africa proud; for Africa deserves only the best from each of us.

May your families, who have invested so much in you, have every reason to be  happy for the good news of your graduation today! Go out there and, “Ma-ke-re-re”! Go out there and be the megaphone of good news to Africa!” Dr. Adesina advised.

Chair Council Mrs. Lorna Magara presents the Mak Souvenirs to Dr. Adesina receiving

Presenting the Souvenirs to Dr. Adesina, the Chairperson Makerere University Council, Mrs. Lorna Magara said the illustrious son of Africa, Dr. Adesina is now part of the Makerere Community.

“I now have the singular honor of handing over these souvenirs that should always remind you of Makerere University, which is now your home in the Pearl of Africa”.

She said, Council and university community were incredibly proud that a globally renowned development economist and agricultural expert of Dr. Adesina’s profile has joined the Makerere Convocation.

“Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, we recognize your passionate, selfless and absolute dedication towards the transformation of the African people and unlocking the immense potential of African nations.

Your visionary framework for the development of Africa articulated in the high 5 priorities (Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Integrate Africa; Industrialize Africa and Improve the quality of life) are rapidly transforming Africa”, Mrs. Magara stated.

Dr. Adesina and Makerere University Chair Mrs. Lorna Magara join the Makerere Performing Art students dancing to the congratulatory Yoruba song

Mrs. Magara applauded Dr. Adesina for his strong leadership in championing homegrown solutions and domestic resource mobilization to finance Africa’s development needs specifically for youth development such as the Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank and the massive investment in ICT infrastructure to provide an enabling environment.

She said in March this year, the prestigious US magazine, Global Finance specializing in financial markets and investments banking named the African Development Bank as the, “Best Multilateral Financial Institution in the world for 2021”

She noted that this was in recognition of the AfDB transforming into a solutions bank to help accelerate Africa’s development under Dr. Adesina’s leadership.

Report compiled by
Jane Anyango;
Principal Communication Officer,
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES)

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