Dr Papa Abdoulaye Seck, of Senegalese nationality, was ap-pointed the incoming Director General of the Africa Rice Center (WARDA) at an Extraordinary Session of the WARDA Council of Ministers on 22 June 2006 in Abuja, Nigeria.
He will succeed Dr Kanayo F. Nwanze, WARDA’s present Director General, whose second and final term will end in November 2006.
The announcement of Dr Seck’s appoint-ment was made by His Excellency Adamu Bello, Honorable Minister for Agriculture and Natural Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in his capacity as the Chair of the WARDA Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers is WARDA’s highest oversight body and the current Chairmanship is held by Nigeria.
As part of the event, a delegation from WARDA, accompanied by its Council of Ministers and National Experts Committee, was invited to a private audience with His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where Dr Seck was presented to the President.
Dr Seck is currently the Director General of the Senegal Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA) and Advisor to the Prime Minister of Senegal.
He has wide-ranging experience in agricultural R&D planning, implementation, evaluation and management and is particularly noted for his in-depth knowledge of the needs and aspirations of the national agricultural research and development systems in sub-Saharan Africa. He has also been closely involved in resource mobilization.
Until recently, he was the Chair of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). He is a member of Executive Committee of the West and Central African Council for Research and Development (WECARD/CORAF) and of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR).
Dr Seck has strong connections with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), having been a member of its Executive Committee. Until very recently, he was a member of the Board of Trustees of WARDA, which is supported by the CGIAR.
He earned his PhD in policy and analysis relating to agricultural economics from the Université de Dijon in 1989.
Since 2003, he has been a member of the Academy of Science and Technology of Senegal. In 2005, he was conferred with the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Lion by the Government of Senegal for his services to the country.
“We are very happy that after going through a highly transparent, rigorous and professional selection process, the WARDA Board of Trustees has chosen Dr Seck to lead this great Center,” stated His Excellency Adamu Bello, thanking Mr Gaston Grenier, the Board Chair.
In accordance with WARDA’s constitution, the Board had initiated the selection process in late 2004, forming a high-level Search Committee that included internationally known experts as well as two WARDA Board members.
The short-listed candidates selected by the Search Committee were interviewed by the full Board in March 2006. During the extraordinary session, the result of this exercise was informed to the National Experts Committee, which after examining the Board’s comprehensive report on the selection process recommended to the Council of Ministers that Dr Seck be appointed.
Commenting on his appointment, Dr Seck said that he felt deeply honored to succeed such an illustrious person as Dr Nwanze. “One of my cherished dreams has been fulfilled: to be in a strategic position to serve Africa better,” he said.
“My work at WARDA will be built on the pillars of transparency, equity, scientific excellence, strengthening of the national agricultural research systems and an open-door policy towards all partners,” he added.
Dr Nwanze in his statement to the Council stated, “I am highly elated by this choice. Dr Seck has got the strength, the dynamism as well as the vision, integrity, and passion needed to undertake this challenging assignment. He is strongly committed to agricultural research as a tool to uplift the poor in sub-Saharan Africa.” He thanked the Federal Government of Nigeria for hosting the extraordinary session, which was inaugurated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, on behalf of the President.
The Council Chair concluded the extraordinary session with high praises for Dr Nwanze’s contribution to WARDA and to Africa and affirmed that he would strongly recommend his Government to honor Dr Nwanze as “a great son of Nigeria.”