“These trophies, which reflect our culture of excellence, are for those who have gone beyond the call of duty and have done excellent work in exceptional conditions”, African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka said during the inaugural AfDB Presidential Awards for Excellence which took place on Tuesday, November 11 in the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan. Kaberuka added that the awards are a reflection of the good work by the staff of the Bank. Twelve projects were nominated, with three winners. The 2014 Presidential Award for Excellence was awarded to the Nairobi-Thika Highway improvement project, the “Kenya Highway”, which stood out on account of its strong impact on the lives of beneficiaries. By building a 45-kilometre eight-lane motorway with nine interchanges, between Nairobi’s central business district and the town of Thika, the average traffic speed has gone from 8 km/h to 45 km/h. This project has improved the daily lives of 100,000 households in Kasarani, Kiambu and Thika, by reducing their travel time from three hours to 30 minutes. More than 3,600 unskilled and semi-skilled workers and 600 technicians and engineers were employed on the project, with powerful multiplier effects all along the road corridor. The issue of sustainability has been addressed by a sustainable road fund. The project, co-funded by China, has demonstrated the Bank’s lengthy infrastructure experience, its capacity to deal with new development partners and to increase benefits for Africa. The awards for the Thika Highway Project were presented to Amadou Oumarou, Director, Transport and ICT Department; Zerfu Tessema, Chief Transport Engineer in the Bank’s East Africa Regional Resource Centre; and Noel Kulemeka, Chief Socio-Economist, Environment and Climate Change Division. Second Prize went to the Nsele-Lufimi and Kwango-Kenge road renovation project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which perfectly illustrates how the Bank engages in countries of situations of fragility. Within the Partnership Programme for the Transition and Recovery of the DRC, the Bank has renovated 310 km of main and feeder roads, which has directly led to increased agricultural production in the provinces of Kenge and Kikwit, wheat increasing by 300%, cassava by 48%, squash by 35% and rice by 15%. More than 23,000 people living in the project impact areas have also benefited from training in protection of the environment, health and road safety. The project has also been noteworthy on account of its highlighting some lessons learnt, including the challenges of matched funding for countries in a situation of fragility and building maintenance bases on state-owned land in order to strengthen sustainability. The awards were presented to Mamady Souaré, Division Manager, New Partnership for Africa’s Development, AfDB; Augustin Karanga, Transport Economist; and Desiré Bizongo, Infrastructure Expert in the Bank’s DRC Country Office. Third prize went to the Ain Beni Mathar thermo solar power plant in Morocco. This innovative plant demonstrates how the Bank is supporting middle-income countries and green growth. With the strong commitment of the Moroccan Government, the Bank contributed to the construction of this gas-powered and thermo-solar power station, adding 470 MW to generating capacity and reducing CO2 emissions by 33,500 tonnes. The construction of local roads and bridges all around the project site brought benefits for 1,128 rural households, facilitating access to social services, improving school attendance and promoting local trade. The project also enabled valuable lessons to be learned about quality at the point of entry and procurement, which are currently being applied to the Ouarzazate solar power station project currently being implemented by the Bank. The prizes were presented to Zakou Amadou, Division Manager, Energy; Ibrahima Konate, Chief Power Engineer; and Khalid Bellamy, Administrative and Finance Officer in the Morocco Field Office.