UMass Boston

Former UN Economic Commission for Africa SG, Carlos Lopes, Provides Scholarship to UMass Boston Doctoral Students

06/29/2023| Amadou B Jallow

As part of its 2023 annual Africa Day event held on March 31st, 2023, the Africa Scholar Forum (ASF) at the McCormack Graduate School invited former United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Secretary General, Dr. Carlos Lopes for a keynote conversation with McCormack School interim Dean Edozie on the theme of “Africa’s 21st Century Economic Transformation.”

Carlos Lopes has impacted students like Elekwachi & Maqsood—who draw from his lecture in their own PhD research on the continent of Africa.
Carlos Lopes (center) has impacted students like Elekwachi (left) & Maqsood (right) — who draw from his lecture in their own doctoral research on the continent of Africa.

A Guinea-Bissau national, Carlos Lopes is currently an Honorary Professor at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance as well as a visiting professor at Sciences Po in Paris. Lopes’ work has had a positive impact on a global scale. He joined the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a development economist in 1988 after serving in the government of his native Guinea-Bissau in the fields of research, diplomacy, and planning. He has held several executive positions while at UNDP, including Policy Director for Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Head of UNDP's Policy Bureau. He was appointed UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Brazil in June 2003, overseeing the largest UNDP program globally at the time. In 2018, Carlos Lopes was chosen to join the African Union (AU) Reform Team and serve as the organization's High Representative for Relationships with Europe. In addition to the Global Commission for Economy and Climate, the Global Commission for the Future of Work, the Global Commission on the Geostrategy of Energy Revolution, and the Commission for Illegal Money Flows from Africa, Lopes has also served on several other international commissions. Carlos Lopes is also a scholar with over 20 books that he has edited or written, as well as featured essays in important media outlets including his best-known book, Structural Transformation in Africa: Misperceptions, New Narratives, and Development in the 21st Century.

More locally, at the John W. McCormack School of Policy and Global Studies, Lopes’ impact comes in the form of his donated honorarium to support UMass Boston’s doctoral students studying African affairs. At the keynote interview, Lopes helped answer the questions of many students at the McCormack School regarding the role that Africa plays in a global political economy. During the interview, Lopes expertly fielded questions from Dean Edozie ranging from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement(ACFTA), African industrialization, trade vs. aid, and the continent’s export economies.

Following the event, Carlos Lopes donated his honorarium to create the Carlos Lopes Award, supporting students at UMass Boston conducting doctoral research on a study of Africa. The award benefits students as it helps them to gain valuable insight on their research topics. At UMass Boston, many students research topics related to the information that Lopes presented on the challenges that the African continent deals with and how such research can lead to solutions that will be beneficial to the African continent from a policy impact perspective.

Two students were the recipients of the Carlos Lopes African Economic Transformation Award. One of the awardees, Lilian Elekwachi, mentioned, “The [award] really means a lot to me. Given that my research entails introducing a new and safer technology for fish smoking in Nigeria, it is essential to understand stakeholders' perceptions on the challenges of the existing technologies for fish smoking.” For Elekwachi, a doctoral student in the School for the Environment at UMass Boston, research on this topic will help with the development of a new technology that better responds to the challenges of fish smoking.

Leena Maqsood, a student in McCormack’s Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance, mentioned, “This award will help me network with the experts working on the informal economy of Uganda and help me know what challenges the state is facing that it cannot yet sign off on the two conventions.” Through the financial assistance it offers students like these, the Carlos Lopes Award helps to accomplish successful research that grows the field of study related to the African continent, especially as its role in the global economy continues to grow.

Through his keynote interview and award, Carlos Lopes has impacted students like Elekwachi and Maqsood—and many more—who draw from his lecture in their own doctoral research on the continent of Africa. At the same time, Lopes’ keynote participation in the McCormack School’s 2023 Africa Day united many students from different schools within UMass Boston, who came together to attend the event.