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CFA Honors Obiageli K. Ezekwesili From The World Bank

Melvin Foote     
(202) 371-0588

WASHINGTON, DC, March 22, 2012 -- Obiageli (Oby) K. Ezekwesili, the outgoing vice president of the World Bank Africa Region, received an enviable send-off by the African Diaspora during a farewell reception organized by the Constituency for Africa (CFA).

“I don’t know what to say,” Ezekwesili said repeatedly, with tears welling in her eyes and her voice shaking. “Thank you, I’m grateful.”

Ezekwesili, who spent five years at the head of the World Bank’s Africa Region, proceeded to address the room, which was filled to capacity at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in SE Washington, D.C.

The reception, held by CFA, a Washington, D.C.-based education and policy advocacy organization, attracted a large number of Washington Diaspora luminaries, including Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.

“We’re here to pay tribute to our s-hero!” Cole said.

Dr. Jendayi Frazer, former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa under President George W. Bush, said “I have seen you as a warrior on the road,” referring to Ezekwesili’s challenging travel schedule.

“Your community’s thanking you for all of the work you’ve done,” Frazer said. “Oby’s standards of integrity and forthrightness wants us to be the best of ourselves.”

Rev. Jonathan Weaver, one of the key speakers, preached about learning to find your purpose, God’s destiny and Ezekwesili’s position as a “world changer.”

 “Oby brought passion and energy to her job,” Weaver said. “Knowing that no person is an island, Oby reached out to the Diaspora.”

“Oby put her money where her mouth is,” said Jeannine Scott, president of the US-Angola Chamber of Commerce.

“Several programs are ongoing because of Oby,” said Scott, who is also the former chair of the African-American Unity Caucus. “You have left many points of light by putting up the resources needed.”

The African Diaspora Program at the Bank
In September 2007, shortly after Oby became the Vice President for the World Bank’s Africa region, the Bank’s Africa region launched the African Diaspora Program (ADP), seeking to further enable and enhance the human and financial capital contributions of African Diaspora to the economic development of their home countries.  The program has been operating on the African Union’s (AU) definition of the Diaspora, which includes non-voluntary immigrants whose ancestors were taken from Africa many years ago, as well as voluntary immigrants whose parents or themselves chose to emigrate from Africa to other parts of the world.

The AU considers the African Diaspora a 6th Province of Africa. The ADP has focused on strengthening policy, financial, and human capital development in Africa through a portfolio of activities and support, in partnership with the AU, partner countries, partner donors as well as African Diaspora Professional Networks and Hometown Associations. 

Working with African Union Commission (AUC), the ADP has supported projects and programs in many African countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. It has also hosted an African Diaspora Development Fund in Europe, which provided the winning Diaspora projects with start up funds to develop small businesses in Africa.

The African institute to harness remittances is one of multi-country projects, born out of recognition of how critical it is to create an institution dedicated to supporting African countries in their quest to better leverage the estimated US$40 billion in yearly remittances which flow to the continent. 

African Diaspora members have accumulated an estimated US$53 billion in savings annually, including more than US$30 billion saved by people from sub-Saharan Africa. This resource is equated to a new, untapped benefactor with strong cultural ties to the ancestral homeland. 
Africa’s commitment to engaging her global Diaspora will culminate in an upcoming summit which will bring together African heads of state in South Africa on May 25, 2012. 

The Chairman of the Board of the Constituency for Africa, Stanley L. Straughter, said he was pleased with the turn-out for the reception for Vice President Oby.

“All of you took time out of your busy schedules because of respect for Madam Oby and all that she has achieved towards engaging the African Diaspora in the World Bank’s program,” he said.

“We certainly look forward to continuing to work with her as she transitions to her future good work for Africa”!

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