AfDB President Adesina receives Gambia’s highest national award

The Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has conferred his country’s highest national award, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Republic of The Gambia, on African Development Bank Group President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (

The honour is in recognition of Adesina’s leadership role and contributions to development in The Gambia and Africa.

President Barrow bestowed him with the honour during a ceremony held in Soma on Monday. Adesina was on an official visit to the West African nation, the first by an African Development Bank president since The Gambia joined the Bank Group nearly 50 years ago.

The official citation recognised Adesina’s leadership in increasing the Bank’s share capital from $93 billion to $208 billion in 2019, the highest in the Bank’s history since its inception in 1964; financial innovations; enhancing the Bank’s effectiveness and impact; his innovative and transformational policies as Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture, including the introduction of an electronic wallet for farmers and the effective ending of corruption in the country’s fertiliser sector.

The citation noted that in 2022, the African Development Bank was ranked the Best Multilateral Financial Institution in the world by Global Finance; and the Most Transparent Financial Institution in the world by ‘Publish What You Fund,’ for its sovereign operations.

The citation also commended the Bank-convened 2023 Feed Africa Summit which brought together 34 Heads of State and Government, development partners, global and regional private sector players, and farmers for transformative actions for food self-sufficiency in Africa. The summit, co-hosted by the Senegalese government, mobilized more than $70 billion to-date.

In his acceptance speech, Adesina said, “Sometimes, I wonder what I have done to deserve such an award. The honour you have bestowed on me is not just personal. It reflects the long partnership that the Bank has had with The Gambia.”

“My life is useful only to the extent that it helps improve the lives of others. Nothing more,” Adesina told The Gambian government, “The African Development Bank will stand beside you, be around you, and support you strongly, and we will continue to see the fruits of our marriage.”

Adesina, a 2017 World Food Prize Laureate, recalled working as a rice researcher in The Gambia and said the Bank would support the country in its ambition to become self-sufficient in rice.

The Bank Group has committed $32.4 million to an ongoing programme to boost rice value chains, aiming to produce 200,000 additional tonnes of paddy rice by 2028 and reduce imports to zero.

In recent years, the African Development Bank Group has funded several projects in The Gambia. They include the modernisation of the Banjul Port, construction of the Senegambia Bridge that connects the country with Senegal, agricultural transformation, climate change mitigation, social protection and energy sector development.

The Bank has invested $540 million in The Gambia since it joined the institution in 1974.

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