Washington DC, 28 March
President Kagame on Wednesday delivered the key remarks at a tribute to honor outgoing World Bank vice president, Dr. Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili, for her contribution to Africa during her tenure.
Hosted at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for scholars, and jointly organized by the Tony Emelu Foundation and the Whitaker Group, the event brought together African Ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps, global business leaders, representatives from the World Bank, IMF, civil society, and NGOs.
In his opening remarks, President Kagame spoke of the pivotal role Dr. Oby Ezekwesili played in championing a strategy which in her words is built around ‘partnership with Africa, working with Africa, not for Africa.’
President Kagame congratulated Dr. Oby and her work done across the continent over the last 5 years saying, “ What we have seen in Rwanda working with the World Bank over the last decade is indeed shared across the continent and there is no doubt that two very competent women that have been at the World Bank.
“ Our sisters from Africa, Oby and Ngozi Okojo- Iwela have been competent leaders in this institution under the able leadership of Bob Zoellick who has also been a good friend of Africa”
The President also paid tribute to Dr. Oby’s role as a strong advocate for Africa, emphasizing how through her continued encouragement to both Africans and others to seize the moment and turn the continents immense potential into profits.
“Through the World Bank’s increased support to productive areas such as infrastructure, agriculture and energy, the potential for investment in these areas and in harnessing a developed private sector has greatly increased” said the President.
Speaking on behalf of the event’s organizers, Rosa Whitaker, CEO of the Whitaker Group, praised Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who “ came to the World Bank with a demonstrated record of achievement as a pioneer and public servant.”
Whitaker emphasized Ezekwesili “Is driven by a cherished and fundamental belief that opportunity should not be bestowed arbitrarily, but incontrovertibly.”
Bringing the ceremony to a close, Dr. Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili began her remarks by thanking President Kagame, “For being the face of aspiration that we all share for the development of the our continent.”
Ezekwesili said she always believes, “development is a process that is exemplified by the strength of will, the strength of purpose and the resilience on the part of the people to create the impetus for their own progress. I have never looked at development as the activity of the weak and that is why I have always seen the continent as a continent with so much power and yet not demonstrated it for many decades so now Mr. President the strength of vision, that dignity that is necessary, that strength of character that you have demonstrated has been an important factor of progress that we have seen in Rwanda “
In her conclusion, Dr. Oby expressed her gratitude to the organizers for having put together the event and re-iterated her intention to continue to act as an advocate for Africa.
Other tributes for Oby included a taped address to Ezekwesili by the former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo.