COVID-19: IITA Extends Lockdown, Shines In DR Congo

433 views | Akanimo Sampson | April 11, 2020

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) has extended its temporary lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

IITA’s Deputy Director-General of Corporate Services, Hilde Koper-Limbourg, announced that the Institute will be extending the temporary lockdown measures in its different locations until further notice. 

She notes that there might be further announcements if the governments in the different countries the Institute operates in announce changes. 

“In all the places we work, the general rule is still that we follow Government directives”, she says, and enjoined staff to “hang in there” in these difficult times and keep taking all precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.

IITA has instituted a partial lockdown in some of its locations, while in places such as Rwanda, there is a total lockdown in line with government directives. 

Despite the current situation, IITA is continuing its work, in some cases remotely, to ensure the “transformation of African agriculture.”

In the meantime, for having the best entrepreneurial activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), CGIAR-IITA has been honoured with an excellence award. 

The award ceremony was part of a conference organised by the Federation des Entreprises du Congo (FEC) and the government of DRC, in Kinshasa, in the second week of last month. 

IITA was cited in the annual Enterprise Challenge Forum of the FEC for distinguishing itself during the year.

Following the inauguration of the President Olusegun Obasanjo Research Campus by DRC President Felix Tshisekedi in Bukavu last October, FEC officials visited the campus and cited the excellence of the facilities and scientific activities.

 In addition, they noted IITA’s contribution to the community, being the third-largest employer in the city of Bukavu, where it is located.

IITA Director General, Nteranya Sanginga, represented the Institute and served as a keynote speaker and panellist. 

In his address, going by a statement wired to this reporter from IITA today, Sanginga spoke about the objectives of the Institute to support the Congolese government in their aim to become self-sufficient and reduce their importation bill. 

He also highlighted the activities of the IITA Business Incubation Platform (BIP), particularly on seed production and distribution, as well as the impact of the IITA Youth Agriprneurs.

An important part of the conference was the presentation of awards to 10 different recipients in recognition of their excellent entrepreneurial activities in DRC. 

Example categories for the awards included best female entrepreneur, best youth entrepreneur, and best entrepreneurial activities of an institute, for which IITA was recognized.

During a formal ceremony, the award recipients were each presented with a celebratory statue designed by famous Congolese artists. Also, the government bestowed on Sanginga and the other recipients the National Medal for Civic Merit (Medaille Nationale de merite civique)

The honorees also received diplomatic passports from the government of DRC, which gives them the privilege to represent the country as entrepreneurs internationally, on an individual basis, or as part of government missions.

This conference is an annual event, which the government and the FEC organize to both celebrate and stimulate entrepreneurship in DRC. 

This year, Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga attended the conference, as well as other dignitaries, as the government continues its push to create the “backbone” for a sustainable economy through entrepreneurship. 

The government is seeking to achieve this by bringing about more local production and relying less on importation.

Sanginga was, however, accompanied by wife Charlotte Sanginga, representing the IITA Women’s Group, IITA Country Representative in DR Congo Zoumana Bamba, Head of the TAAT Clearinghouse Mpoko Bokanga, and IITA-BIP CEO Frederick Schreurs.


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