Makerere University honours AfDB President for innovative leadership

By Nicholas Waitathu
Friday, May 28th, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
President Akinwumi Adesina acceptance of award at Makerere University.

Nicholas Waitathu

African Development Bank Group (AfDB) President, Akinwumi Adesina has won a top prize for his leading role in agricultural innovation and economic growth of the continent.

Uganda's Makerere University awarded Dr Adesina an Honorary Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa), citing his visionary leadership and distinguished contribution to Africa’s transformation.

The AfDB boss received the prestigious award during the university’s fifth session of the 71st graduation ceremony held in Kampala on May 21.

Receiving the award, an elated Adesina was full of praises for the prestigious institution.

“I will cherish this Honorary Doctorate from Makerere University as it will always bring back great memories of my work and partnership with the university,” he said in his acceptansce speech.

Adesina supported scientists and researchers at the University’s Food Technology Department, helping to innovate a shelf-stable flour produced from the national staple, the bananas, which could be turned into mashed banana meal known locally as the Matoke.

The bank president recalled his work in Uganda as the Associate Director of the Rockefeller Foundation, when he engaged the University faculty members in undertaking research on food technologies.

The work done on the banana tissue culture, which was geared towards making the banana plantations in Uganda much more economically productive and disease-free also earned Adesina accolades.

He said farmers across Uganda were supported to access the tissue-cultured bananas through a financing programme which he helped to set up.

“The programme was scaled up by the Centenary Rural Development Bank, and none of the farmers who received the loans defaulted in their payments,” recalled the agricultural economist, who has been a leader in agricultural innovation for over 30 years.

Makerere University also acknowledged Adesina's contribution towards catalysing Africa’s social and economic progress, helping to build partnerships, networks and advocacy for Africa’s development.

In 2019, the AfDB invested $96 million in the Higher Education and Science and Technology Project, which benefited the varsity.

The University was able to construct central teaching facilities with a holding capacity of 1,000 students, including auditoriums and seminar rooms from $26 million which was part of the project funded by the bank.

Adesina recalled that some of the University programmes have become world-class, attracting collaborators from various universities.

He urged the University to work towards increasing the number of female students enrolling for masters and PhD programmes, saying Africa’s development would accelerate with more women in positions of leadership.

Speaking last year, Adesina said AfDB was spearheading efforts to feed Africa and was investing $25 billion over a 10-year period to transform the continent’s agriculture sector.

“What Africa does with food will determine the future of food, given that 65 per cent of the arable land left to feed the world is here,” he said.

He urged agricultural universities to optimise their role in linking research, innovations and technologies to farmers and the food and agriculture industry.