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The African Development Bank and the South African Embassy in Cote d’Ivoire Honor Nelson Mandela
The African Development Institute (ECAD), a knowledge promotion and capacity development department of the African Development Bank, and the Embassy of South Africa in Cote d’Ivoire have successfully hosted the Nelson Mandela Centenary Public Lecture, in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on September 17, 2018.
The event, whose theme was “The Africa we want: Promoting African Knowledge by Africans, for Africa” attracted over 500 participants drawn from Executive Directors and Senior Officials of the African Development Bank, Ambassadors, heads of diplomatic agencies and international organizations, staff and students of high education institutions, including the University of Cocody, Abidjan, attended the event. Students from the National Polytechnic Institute Felix Houphouet-Boigny (INP-HB), Yamoussoukro, which is over 120 kilometers from Abidjan thronged the Babacar N’diaye Auditorium of the African Development Bank headquarters to witness the event.
In her welcome remarks, the Executive Director, African Development Bank representing Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland, Ms. Mmakgoshi Lekhethe paid glowing tributes to Nelson Mandela and remarked that Mandela was especially concerned about education and was a strong force in her professional development.
Mr. Luvuyo Mato, the Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of South Africa in Côte d’Ivoire, who gave the opening remarks, explained how celebrations were being held around the world to mark the centenary anniversary of Nelson Mandela. Acting together to achieve the Africa we want by 2063, he said that we can all, like Mandela, leave a legacy behind.
The speakers and participants discussed Africa’s evolutionary journey to social and economic development and concluded that there would be real progress in this area, when African governments actively drive regional integration, invest adequately in human capital and promote the use of statistical data for modern economic planning.
The event afforded speakers and participants ample opportunity to commend Mandela’s exemplary legacy of openness, transparency, patience, hope, unity (Ubuntu), love and service to humanity against the background of Africa’s quest for inclusive development, social equity and economic emancipation.
The speakers focused on the need to promote intra-African scholarships as a step towards realizing Madiba’s legacy. The first speaker, Dr Pali Lehohla, former South African Statistician General who served under Mandela reflected on his professional encounters with Madiba. Dr Lehohla also argued for evidence-based policy making and planning in Africa. “Significant progress is always possible if we ourselves plan every detail and allow intervention of fate only on our own terms,” he added, quoting Nelson Mandela.
Dr Lehohla referred to the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) as one area where data should be brought to bear in charting a path toward an integrated Africa.
The second keynote speaker, Dr. Koffi N’Guessan, Director-General of the National Polytechnic Institute Felix Houphouet-Boigny (INP-HB) in Yamoussoukro expounded on the importance of collaboration among African institutions of learning. He said, “the practice of exchange through the integration of academic activities across African countries was crucial for developing skills across academic and vocational disciplines.” He concluded that it was important for Africa’s institutions and the academic environment “to offer students the opportunity to experience cultural diversity to develop their degree of openness and to have access to quality training in a framework of international competitiveness.”
The lectures were followed by lively interaction in the form of a question and answer session with the participants, especially students, asking thought-provoking questions.
The Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, Mr. Charles Boamah, gave the closing remarks. He thanked the speakers, guests, Bank staff, and students and summarized key learnings from Nelson Mandela’s life. He said that “hard work and determination were the trademarks of Mandela’s life and values that we should share and embrace in this age of change across the continent.”
Mr. Boamah concluded by urging participants to be agents of change, at the Bank, and across Africa.