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First Lady of Cote d’Ivoire Delivers 2017 Commencement Address to Capacity Crowd: Announces 10 Million FCFA to IUGB Foundation

On August 3, 2017, Mrs. Dominique Ouattara, the First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, delivered the commencement address to a capacity crowd of dignitaries*, guests, parents and friends of the graduates gathered in the 630-seat auditorium of the Information and Biotechnology Village (VITIB) in Grand-Bassam.

The First Lady’s inspiring remarks spoke to the importance attached to higher education by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, under the leadership of His Excellency President Alassane OUATTARA. To the graduates she said: I would like to say to you that you make your parents, your families and your professors very proud. I am very happy for you, and I congratulate you for this major achievement. You now have to contribute your share to the development of your country, and your diploma will open to you the doors of a beautiful professional career”.

As she handed each of the 36 graduates their diplomas, she graciously donated a new laptop computer to each of them to help in their endeavors after IUGB. Also, the First Lady announced a contribution of 10 million FCFA (app. US$18,000) to the IUGB Foundation for scholarships to IUGB students.

The ceremony started with a parade of students carrying flags of the 32 countries represented by students, faculty, and staff at IUGB. These countries are: Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Benin, Belgium, England, USA, Togo, France, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Gabon, Ghana, Chad, Malawi, Liberia, Canada, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, the Netherlands, Mauritania, Gambia, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

The mayor of Grand-Bassam opened the ceremony by welcoming the, First Lady of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and the entire audience to Grand-Bassam.  He thanked the First Lady for her involvement in many initiatives that benefit the Ivorian population.

IUGB President Professor Saliou TOURÉ welcomed the guests, and highlighted IUGB’s remarkable progress over the last ten years. He thanked the First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire for participating despite her extremely busy schedule. President Saliou Touré congratulated the graduates stating that they have “acquired a conceptual, theoretical and professional background allowing [them] to become competent leaders and real actors in the development of Africa”.   Also, he delivered appreciation awards to some of the major donors and partners of the university: Cargill, CITIBANK, Coffee and Cocoa Board, General Confederation of Enterprises of Côte d’Ivoire (GCECI), Exxon Mobil, and Coca-Cola.

The Executive Director of IUGB Foundation, Ambassador John HICKS took the stage to present briefly the activities of the Foundation. He thanked the people and businesses that have and continue to donate to the Foundation.  He said that to date, the Foundation has raised more than U$200,000 for scholarships to IUGB students. He appealed to the audience to support the university and to encourage other individuals and corporate enterprises to do the same. He noted that a donation in any amount will make a difference.

Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Madam Professor Bakayoko-Ly Ramata, praised the way IUGB is managed and the opportunities it offers to its students for their professional and personal development. She also praised the engagement of the First Lady at the sides of all the actors involved in education. She ended by congratulating the graduates and wishing them successful careers.

The ceremony ended with a family photo session with the graduates, speakers, dignitaries including the Vice President of Côte d’Ivoire, and University officials.

The audience was entertained during the celebration with cultural music and dance performed by “Le Ballet National” of Côte d’Ivoire.

*Dignitaries in attendance: His Excellency Mr. Daniel Kablan Duncan, the Vice-President of Côte d’Ivoire,  Professor Bakayoko-Ly Ramata, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Mrs. Kandia Camara, Minister of National Education, Mr. Bruno Koné Nabagné, Minister of Communication, Professor Mariatou Koné, Minister of Women, Child Welfare and Solidarity, Pascal Abinan Kouakou, Minister of Modernization of the Administration, Ambassadors, Corporate Executives, Nanan Tanoe Desire, King of N’Zima Kotoko and President of the Association of Kings and Traditional Chiefs, and many others.