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Afreximbank and Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) Announce Inaugural Afreximbank-FARA Research, Innovation and Competence in Agriculture (AFRICA) Awards Winners at the 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM2024) and the 3rd AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024)

todayJuly 8, 2024 4

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African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) ( and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) are pleased to announce winners of the inaugural Afreximbank-FARA Research, Innovation and Competence in Agriculture (AFRICA) Awards.

These prestigious awards honour individuals, groups, or established organisations that have made outstanding contributions towards improving food and nutritional security, income generation, resilience and natural resource management in Africa through research, innovation, agripreneurship and policy advocacy in the food and agriculture domain.

The award winners were presented with their awards in Nassau, Bahamas, on the margins of the 2024 Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM2024) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF).

The AFRICA Awards encompasses three categories which are the Africa Research Excellence Award, the Innovation-based Entrepreneurship Award, and the Impactful and Evidence-based Policies Award.

The AFRICA Awards selection process is overseen by an Independent Awards Selection Committee composed of globally recognised experts. 

Following a highly competitive selection process, FARA and Afreximbank are pleased to announce the two laureates of the 2024 AFRICA Awards. They are:

Umezuruike Linus Opara is the recipient of the Africa Research Excellence Award in recognition of his contribution to developing and validating a novel integrated value-chain approach to post-harvest research and innovation, one crop at a time.  His work is acclaimed for reducing post-harvest losses, enhancing value addition, and connecting production to local, regional, and international African markets. Additionally, Professor Opara is recognised for his contributions to building Africa’s capacity for research and innovation in post-harvest science and technology through cutting-edge research, new knowledge creation, and mentoring young, outstanding researchers. He is a distinguished Professor and holder of the South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology, Faculty of AgriSciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.   Professor Opara holds a Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and a PhD from Massey University, New Zealand. Professor Opara has published extensively, is a highly cited researcher, and has received several other prestigious awards.

Professor Richard Mkandawire is the recipient of the Impactful and Evidence-based Policies Award for his foundational role in conceptualising CAADP and catalysing its domestication in African countries. CAADP is credited with elevating the attention and increasing the investments African countries are devoting to agriculture.

Professor Mkandawire has consistently and vigorously advocated for policy processes that are inclusive and supported by evidence.  He has catalysed very productive partnerships among policy analysts, policymakers, the private sector, knowledge institutions and other actors in the food and agriculture system. These partnerships have been instrumental in improving the policy environment needed to drive Africa’s agricultural transformation. Professor Mkandawire holds a PhD in development studies and an MSc in agricultural extension from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom. He also holds an MA in Rural Sociology from the University of Missouri, USA. He has published extensively on agriculture development policy and related areas and has been honoured with several other notable awards. He is the Africa Director, Alliance for African Partnership; Chair, Malawi National Planning Commission and formerly the Head of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) at NEPAD.

Commenting during the awards, Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of Board of Directors, Afreximbank said: “Africa’s vulnerability to climate shocks exacerbate its food insecurity concerns and heighten the urgency of structural transformation of its agricultural sector. It needs to boost efficiency and productivity, modernise its agriculture, and reclaim its rightful position as a net exporter of agricultural products I applaud the winners of the Inaugural AFRICA Awards for the demonstrable and innovative impact they are delivering for agriculture.”

Dr Aggrey Agumya, Executive Director, FARA noted: “As leading African institutions, Afreximbank and FARA are proud to launch these eagerly awaited, innovation-driven awards that honour illustrious Africans who have been in the trenches shaping the future of the continent’s food and agriculture systems. The awards recognise outstanding contributions in research, innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and policy, aligning with the goals of the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Afreximbank.

For more information on the AFRICA Award, please contact:
Dr. Christiane Abou-Lehaf

Dr Abdulrazak Ibrahim

Media Contact:
Vincent Musumba
Manager, Communications and Events (Media Relations)

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About Afreximbank:
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade. For 30 years, the Bank has been deploying innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. A stalwart supporter of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Afreximbank has launched a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA. Working with the AfCFTA Secretariat and the AU, the Bank is setting up a US$10 billion Adjustment Fund to support countries in effectively participating in the AfCFTA. At the end of September 2023, Afreximbank’s total assets and guarantees stood at over US$33.4 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to US$5.8 billion. Afreximbank has investment grade ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A), Moody’s (Baa1), Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) (A-) and Fitch (BBB). Afreximbank has evolved into a group entity comprising the Bank, its impact fund subsidiary called the Fund for Export Development Africa (FEDA), and its insurance management subsidiary, AfrexInsure, (together, “the Group”). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.

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About FARA:
FARA ( is the continental apex body for agricultural research and innovation (R&I). Mandated by the African Union Commission (AUC), FARA facilitates pan-African actions to effectively deploy R&I to increase the continent’s agricultural productivity and competitiveness to feed its fast-growing population. FARA works with Sub-Regional Organisations (SROs), which are the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) and North African Sub-Regional Organization (NASRO) as well as the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS). FARA aims to facilitate strategic (continent-wide) collective agricultural research and innovation actions to increase agricultural productivity and competitiveness. The collaborative efforts are focused on strengthening the capacity for agricultural innovation on a country-specific basis. FARA is an international organisation with full diplomatic status in Ghana.

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