Lopes calls it a day after 28 years with the United Nations

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 28 October 2016 (ECA) – Carlos Lopes was on Thursday given a huge, emotional send-off as he left the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) where he served as Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary for four years.

Moving video messages from Heads of State, luminaries from the continent and staff representatives formed part of Mr. Lopes’ farewell reception at the ECA.

Largely acknowledged for his intellectual contribution to Africa’s development agenda through bold thinking and fearless interventions, Mr. Lopes was lauded for tirelessly working for the structural transformation of the African continent and promoting the African narrative, in particular.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said; “You dared to challenge convention in innovative approaches to issues and understanding the challenges facing our continent and thereby shaped a new partnership between our continent and the UN. I highly appreciate the bonds of friendship that we developed over the years – go well and keep being the trailblazer that you have always been.” 

Namibian President Hage Geingob said after each interaction he had with Mr. Lopes, he left rejuvenated by his evidence-backed evangelism of the ‘Africa We Want’, telling guests when he became President he asked Mr. Lopes to organize an induction seminar for his cabinet.

“Carlos has to be recognized also for his friendliness and humility. I have already invited him to be my unpaid economic adviser,” said Mr. Geingob.

The BBC’s Zeinab Badawi said; “With your departure from the ECA, you will be leaving a big hole; but also a great legacy for your successors to build on. I really look forward to interacting with you in some new manifestation. Whatever it is, I know you will make a great success of it. You are a tremendous Pan Africanist, an inspiration and I admire you with respect, warmth and affection.”

Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, now chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation and the Africa Progress Panel praised Mr. Lopes for his love and work for the African continent.

“Your bold and engaging intellectual leadership and your advocacy for the structural transformation of African economies and effective regional integration have been laudable.”

Akin Adesina, President of the African Development Bank said in his video message: “You have brought the commission of vision premised on ‘Africa First’, with a view to steer Africa’s own development path as well allow the African continent to tell and own, as you always say, its own narrative. Congratulations on a wonderful tour of duty.”

African Union Commission deputy Chairperson, Erastus Mwencha lauded Mr. Lopes for challenging the global perception of Africa, adding he had left an indelible mark on the continent and its discourse.

“We at the AUC will miss you dearly but we know you will continue to be engaged in issues that have to do with Africa’s sustainable development,” said Mr. Mwencha.

Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the ECA, Wahide Belay, said Mr. Lopes has left an imprint on Ethiopia and the African continent as a whole.

“It is sad to see you go but today I join the rest of Africa in celebrating the great work you have done for the continent. As a country and the continent we learnt a lot from you. We thank you for all your hard work,” he said.

UNDP Resident Representative Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie said Mr. Lopes will be sorely missed by the UN family in Ethiopia.

“Carlos brings a rare sophistication, unpredictability and boldness to the African discourse. We hope that this sophistication, this freshness, is not lost to his departure from ECA, but rather that it will continue beyond the UN borders and penetrate the walls of al institutions that have anything to do with this continent.”

In his response Mr. Lopes said he was moved by all the messages, adding he was grateful for all the support he had received over the years from friends, partners, African leaders, the host country and many others scattered around the globe.

He singled out the ECA staff for their support in working with him to make the ECA one of the best in the United Nations family.

Mr. Lopes highlighted that $57 million had been granted to the ECA by the United Nations General Assembly to support the renovation and preservation of the historic Africa Hall within the UN compound in Addis Ababa.

“My role was simply to convince them of the importance of this project and its significance to Africa’s history. It is my hope that whoever takes over will finish the job, including other projects, such as the refurbishing of the ECA library,” he said.

Earlier in a farewell conversation with the Foreign Correspondents Association in Ethiopia, Mr. Lopes thanked the media for continued support, urging the journalists to continue engaging with him on Africa’s structural transformation and other issues concerning the continent.

“I will continue to engage on the issues that matter to Africa’s transformation,” he told the journalists.

The media thanked him for being a bold thinker and constantly reminding them of the importance of the African narrative in the development of the continent.


Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826
E-mail: ecainfo@uneca.org