Former Ethiopia Prime Minister H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn Succeeds Mr. Strive Masiyiwa as AGRA’s Board Chair

Nairobi, Kenya August 16, 2019 – The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has announced the appointment of H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, as its Board Chair replacing Mr. Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman of the Econet Group, a pan African telecommunications, media and technology company

Mr. Masiyiwa has been on the AGRA Board since it was established in 2006 and served as its Chair since  2013 replacing the late Kofi Annan. Under his leadership, AGRA grew its operations in 11 countries, empowering over 30 million African smallholder farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs to feed 150 million people.

“I have been involved with AGRA since its inception. Over the years, the institution has contributed tremendously to repositioning Africa’s agriculture. We now need to move the conversation from agriculture systems to food systems that will underpin the continent’s prosperity.  While I leave AGRA, I will stay engaged in Africa’s agriculture to ensure we achieve food self-sufficiency by 2030,” said Mr. Masiyiwa.

Under Mr. Masiyiwa leadership, AGRA contributed to the development of numerous sectoral and national policies that favour growth across the agricultural value chains in Africa, leading to an increase the application of yield raising seed and fertilizer technologies, market sourcing and better financing opportunities for farmers.

This is in addition to developing over 650 improved seed varieties of close to 20 key crops and training over 700 scientists at both PhD and MSc levels who are now actively working in seed production in Africa. AGRA has also supported the establishment of 112 local, private seed companies, up from 10 in 2007 in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa excluding South Africa. As a result, over 600,000 MT of high-quality, high-yielding seeds have been produced and distributed to an estimated 15 million farmers, with

“AGRA has an excellent board. I have been very fortunate working with such an incredible group of people. There are 17 of us from over 14 countries around the world with close to 50/50 gender balance. I am excited to have a greatly committed leader, H.E. Desalegn take over. I recognize H.E. Desalegn as a forward-looking leader and I am confident that he will steer the organisation and, indeed, African agriculture to greater heights,” added Mr. Masiyiwa.

H.E. Desalegn served as the second executive Prime Minister of Ethiopia from 2012 to 2018 and is credited with sustaining the country’s rapid and double-digit economic growth driven by a thriving agricultural sector.

He also served as the Chairperson of the African Union from 2013 to 2014 and was appointed the AU’s champion of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), a continental leadership role that required him to rally fellow African leaders behind policies and strategies to end hunger in the continent by 2025. He joined the AGRA Board in September 2018.

“I received the invitation to chair the AGRA Board as an opportunity to continue influencing African leaders to accelerate the implementation of the AU’s Malabo Declaration to ascertain that food is available, accessible and affordable to all,” said H.E. Desalegn.

“I am also thankful that I succeed Mr. Masiyiwa, a remarkable continental leader, who leaves behind a solid organisation and an impressive track record. I wish him well in his future endeavors and I remain certain of his support in the journey to achieving the continent’s major agricultural prospects.”

AGRA President Dr. Agnes Kalibata hailed Masiyiwa as a revolutionary leader, who helped get the institution on track to transform African agriculture from a struggle to survive to a business that thrives.

“Mr. Masiyiwa has been instrumental in the achievement of our organisational objectives for Africa and it is under his leadership that we reached most of our critical milestones in the drive to transform Africa’s agriculture as the surest path to economic prosperity. I would like to thank him personally, and on behalf of AGRA and the continent, for his contribution to our success,” Dr. Kalibata said.

“In the same way, I am pleased to welcome our new Chairman H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, a truly African visionary, who, by deed, showed that African agriculture can be properly managed to make the continent food secure. His diverse experience in African leadership is a resource that will help us continue to achieve critical goals.”

H.E Hailemariam will be leading an AGRA Board comprising global leaders with a passion to transform the lives of a majority of Africans living in rural areas through investment in agriculture.

His first engagement as Chairman will be at the 2019 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), on 3-6 September in Accra, Ghana, where he will engage various African Heads of State and other continental and global leaders in discussions around Africa’s agricultural transformation.

About AGRA

Established in 2006, AGRA is an African-led, Africa-based and farmer centered institution working to put smallholder farmers at the center of the continent’s growing economy by transforming their farming from a solitary struggle to survive to a business that thrives.

Working in collaboration with our partners—including African governments, researchers, development partners, the private sector and civil society— AGRA’s work primarily focuses on smallholder farmers – men and women who typically cultivate staple crops on two hectares or less.

In the new strategy for 2017-2021, AGRA is supporting 11 African countries and 30 million smallholder farm households (150 million individuals) to increase their incomes and improve their food security.

AGRA drives the bulk of its investments Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA). The founding members of the partnership include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has recently joined the partnership, bring greater focus on regional food markets and food trade through policy predictability and market systems development. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ, is currently a non-voting member and a resource partner, co-financing AGRA’s strategy in Burkina Faso and Ghana.

For more information, please contact Waiganjo Njoroge, AGRA’s Interim Head, Communications, Tel: +254 (703) 033 294, Mobile: +254 723 857 270, E-mail: WNjoroge@agra.org or visit www.agra.org

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