ECA's Chief Earns an Honorary Doctorate for His Dedication to Africa's Development

(From Left) Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister, Ato Demeke Mekonene, conferring a honorary doctorate of Development Studies by one of Ethiopia's leading higher institution of learning, Hawassa University, on Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa, Carlos Lopes, in recognition of Lopes' leadership and intellectual contribution to Africa's development on the continent and beyond.
9 July 2016

Awassa — Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Development Studies. Ethiopia's recognition of Lopes' intellectual contribution to Africa's development was conferred by Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister. Present at the ceremony was Minister Arkebe Oqubay and Ambassador Mohamed Idriss Farah of Djibouti.

"It is with humility that I accept this Doctor Honoris Causa... I will continue to do my utmost to uphold this honour and trust," said Lopes in his acceptance speech.

Thousands of students graduating at Hawassa University, one of Ethiopia's top institutions, drew inspiration from his acceptance speech as he spoke about Africa and its future.

"I am passionate about Africa; it has always been a subject of my interest and study," he said, adding it was significant that he was receiving this honour in Ethiopia, an emblem of Africa's liberation and a country rooted in a deep history of pan Africanism.

He congratulated the new graduates, wishing them every success in future. "You are Africa's future," said the ECA Chief, urging the students, as they set out to conquer new opportunities, "should be inspired by renowned figures of Africa's independence like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and Amilcar Cabral who started their political engagements as young adults."

"Anything is possible. Be fearless, be courageous, be ambitious and have conviction of action," he told the graduates.

He said that the choice for Africa is to use favourable tailwinds to achieve economic transformation, and to accomplish this through industrialization, stating, "We have to confront and change the negative narrative first. This cannot be achieved without changing the mindset."

He said it was high time African economies moved up the global value chain and transform themselves from being mere suppliers of raw materials to producers of manufactured goods as well as suppliers of services to generate jobs, higher wages and diversified manufacturing.

He hailed Ethiopia as an example of a bold state-led development model with a long-term vision for structural transformation.

"From being one of the poorest countries in Africa, Ethiopia has in a decade and a half metamorphosed to achieve double-digit economic growth, quadrupled its gross domestic product per capita, increased life expectancy by 12 years, and reduced poverty by half," he said.

"If Africa is going to own its narrative, it has to be based on real changes," said Lopes.

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