AAI’s 24th Annual Awards Gala

September 24, 2008

At its black-tie 24th Annual Awards, 55th Anniversary, Gala in New York, The Africa-America Institute paid tribute to the people of Mozambique by presenting the AAI African National Achievement Award recognizing Mozambicans’ resilience in times of war and other hardships, and their commitment to peace, democracy, and widespread and sustainable economic growth. Mozambican President Armando Emílio Guebuza accepted the AAI African National Achievement Award on behalf of the Mozambican people.

View the video presentation: AAI and Mozambique: Building Human Capacity through Genuine Partnership

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Nearly 400 U.S. and African business, political and diplomatic leaders were in attendance to celebrate African achievement under AAI’s theme of Celebrating Steady Progress and Triumph over Adversity. The AAI Awards Gala is the largest Africa-focused event in New York City.

Mozambique was recognized for building human capacity through its commitment to education at all levels. AAI’s partnership with the country, which began in the early 60s, has helped to expand Mozambicans’ access to advanced skills and knowledge through professional training and advanced academic degree scholarship programs.

In accepting the AAI award on behalf of his compatriots, President Guebuza cited the country’s significant achievements in education since independence in 1975, including its radical expansion of student enrollment format every level from primary to tertiary.

Between 1996 and 2006, primary school enrollment increased by 65 percent. The Mozambican government also established the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology to help bolster the country’s professional and skilled workforce to meet the demands of the 21st century.

President Guebuza told awards gala guests that Mozambique still has a long way to go in training teachers, particularly in rural areas. He thanked and paid “glowing homage” to AAI for its ongoing role in providing the advanced educational opportunities Mozambique needs to fill its critical shortage of highly qualified professionals.

AAI began its work in Mozambique in the early 1960s well before the country won independence from Portugal. When Mozambique gained independence, it lacked a skilled and educated workforce. AAI played a key role in educating and training Mozambicans, who, in turn, have contributed to the country’s progressive economic and social development.

“We salute the people of Mozambique for their strength and perseverance in the face of adversity,” said Mora McLean, AAI President and CEO. “Mozambique is making significant progress towards reaching key targets for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, but its ability to sustain and consolidate this progress will depend on continued heavy investment in education,” said Ms. McLean. Adopted by world governments in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals are a set of goals aimed at the alleviation of global poverty and disease by 2015.

The award AAI also sought to call attention to Mozambique’s progress toward building a healthy economy, with growth rates recently averaging 7 to 8 percent. Mozambique currently boasts one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, a trend that has helped to lift millions of people out of poverty.

AAI also paid tribute to: Neville Isdell, Chairman of the The Coca-Cola Company Board of Directors, presenting him with the AAI Award for Capacity Building and Private Sector Development in Africa; Jorgina Manhengane, Operations Manager of PETROMOC, SA, Mozambique’s national oil company, presenting her with the AAI Distinguished Alumna Award; and Célia Diniz, AAI’s Country Representative in Mozambique, who received the AAI Outstanding Service Award. Shiko Mawatu and his band from the Democratic Republic of Congo provided the musical entertainment for the evening event.

View photos from AAI’s 24th Annual Awards Gala

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