President of Austria honours Kandeh Yumkella

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 July 2015

Dr and Mrs Kandeh Yumkella with Dr  Wolfgang Waldner
Following his return to Austria, after last weekend’s inspirational UK tour, Kandeh Yumkella was the special guest at the Marmoorsaal – the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday – Tuesday, 28th July, 2015, at a ceremony where he was conferred with the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for his outstanding services to the Republic of Austria.

Also known as the Order of Merit of the Austrian Republic, the prestigious presidential award is one of the highest Austrian honours given to both Austrians and leading foreign leaders, for their exemplary work to the Austrian people.

The Sierra Leonean born Yumkella received his high honour with a certificate signed by Dr. Heinz Fisher, President of the Republic of Austria and a congratulatory letter signed by Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s Foreign Minister.

During the glittering ceremony, attended by international and national dignitaries – including members of the Vienna-based United Nations Diplomatic Corp, Dr. Wolfgang Waldner noted that the Republic of Austria “has so many reasons to be grateful” to Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, for his admirable qualities as a leader and the stellar results he delivered as a two-term former Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization- UNIDO (2005 – 2013), and as former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and CEO of the initiative on Sustainable Energy for All – SE4All (2013-2015).

Ambassador Jongopie Stevens represented the Republic of Sierra Leone during the award ceremony“In your ten years as head of International Organizations based in Vienna, you have done much to strengthen Vienna’s reputation as an international meeting place and energy hub. We cannot let you leave without expressing our gratitude and appreciation for the work you have accomplished in Vienna,” underscored Dr. Waldner. (Photo: Ambassador Jongopie Stevens in attendance).

In his response, Yumkella who has resigned his UN position to return home and compete for his country’s highest office – the presidency, noted that Austria and colleagues present have taught him a lot and will remain forever grateful for the wonderful relationship he has maintained over the years.

Fisher of Austria at the UNHe narrated this story of his visits with President Fisher (Photo) to the top of the mountains: “President Fisher took me up the mountains so I could dream,” he said.

“I know I can count on Austria’s continued friendship as I return home to go and help lead my people so that together we can transform our nation of 6 million people. It is not an easy journey, but I believe my people deserve the best as well. I will use all the lessons and skills that Austria and all of you have taught me here, “said Yumkella.

kofi-annanYumkella joins a select group of distinguished Africans – including former UN Secretary-General – Kofi Annan of Ghana (Photo), and former IAEA Director-General – Mohamed Elbaradei of Egypt to have been so honoured.

Notable Austrians include Roman Catholic Cardinal and Archbishop of Vienna – Christoph Schonborn, Alois Mock – former Vice-Chancellor of Austria, and Kurt Waldheim – former President of Austria and former UN Secretary-General.

This is the speech delivered by Dr. Wolfgang Waldner at the conferment ceremony:

“Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, it is a particular pleasure for me to welcome you here today in the Marble Hall of the Austrian Foreign Ministry on a very special occasion.

The Austrian Federal President has awarded one of the highest decorations of the Republic of Austria to Dr. Yumkella. I will have the privilege to present it to him in a few minutes.

Before we proceed to this more formal part of our get-together let me say a few words why I consider the timing of our ceremony very fortunate.

Dr. Yumkella will leave Vienna very soon and return to his home country Sierra Leone where he will be running for the presidential office.”

Yumkella 2014 2“We cannot let him go without expressing our gratitude and appreciation for the work he has accomplished in Vienna in his previous functions as Director General of UNIDO and Special Representative of the Secretary-General and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All).

As you know, only a couple days ago Vienna was confirmed as the seat of Sustainable Energy for All. This decision of the Executive Committee also confirms Dr.Yumkella’s choice of Vienna as the city best suited for hosting the initiative of the UN-Secretary General.”

“We are, naturally, very happy about this decision and will continue to provide the future Sustainable Energy for All Partnership with all the support we can give.

You may remember that the seeds for the Initiative were sown during the first edition of the Vienna Forum in 2009.

Like this year’s fourth edition, the forum was organized back then by the Austrian Foreign Ministry in cooperation with UNIDO. It was Kandeh Yumkella, in his then function as Director General of UNIDO, who first formulated the three goals of the Initiative:

Ensuring universal access to modern forms of energy; doubling the global growth rate of energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the worldwide energy mix.”

“It was him and a few others like our partners from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) were the first to see the need for giving energy the role which had been missing in the millennium development goals – the role as a driving force for development.

Koroma-at-BumbunaDue to his background and ample experience Kandeh Yumkella was acutely aware of the fact that without energy there is no development.

Today, we have energy figures as goal No. Seven on the list of Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted by the UN Summit this September.

This is no mean achievement and it is an achievement that we mainly owe to Kandeh Yumkella.”

“Let me take you back to the “birthplace” of SE4All, the first edition of the Vienna Energy Forum.

Dr. Yumkella was not content with the role as an initiator, he also did his utmost to spread the good news and built up global awareness of the importance of the issue.

In doing so, he employed all the infectious enthusiasm, the eloquence and considerable charm for which he is so well known.

First, and most importantly, the Secretary General of the United Nations saw the merits of the case Kandeh Yumkella made and launched SE4All as his personal Initiative together with the President of the World Bank.”

kandeh2014“In his new function as Special Representative of the Secretary General and CEO of SE4All Kandeh Yumkella faced the task of mobilizing global support for the Initiative and catalysing action from governments, business, academia and civil society to make the project fly.”

“Austria firmly believes in the future of the Initiative. SE4All is in the process of acquiring a long-term institutional identity and is set to take over new tasks connected with the implementation of sustainable energy as Sustainable Development Goal No. Seven.

As such, it will build on the strong basis that was laid by the unwavering commitment and inexhaustible energy of its first Secretary General and CEO.”

“Excellency, Austria has many reasons to be grateful to you. In your ten years as head of International Organizations based in Vienna you have contributed to strengthen Vienna’s reputation as an international meeting place and energy hub.

Let me therefore thank you for the good cooperation you have always shared with the Austrian Foreign Ministry during your time in Vienna.

We are happy that we could work with you on a wide range of common projects and we wish you much success and personal fulfilment in all the projects that you will be taking up in the future.

I now have the honour to present you with the insignia of the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for services to the Republic of Austria together with a certification signed by President Heinz Fischer and a letter of congratulation from Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.”

KandehDr. Yumkella is also the recipient of numerous international awards, including:

• 2014 Nayudamma Award for outstanding contributions to the energy sector

• Commander of the National Order of Cote d’Ivoire ( June 25, 2013)

• 2013 AAI Distinguished Alumni Award ( conferred in New York in September, 2013)

• 2013 Energy Efficiency Visionary Award (ASE-EE Global Forum) for his steadfast commitment to the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and his work to advance the next generation of energy efficiency through the pillars of investment, education and modernization.

kandeh Yumkella in London1• 2012 South-South and Triangular Cooperation Visionary Award (United Nations of South-South Cooperation)

• 2012 United Nations Association (UNA-USA) Global Leadership Award for the leadership he has provided to strengthen the United Nations

• Award of “Honorary Professor” by the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, Ulan Bator, Mongolia (April 2012)

• Wissam Award for service and son of Africa (March 30, 2011)

• Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria in recognition of his contribution to global industrial development and poverty alleviation in the world, (March 2012)

• Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from the Njala University, Njala, Sierra Leone in March 2011

• Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) from TERI University, New Delhi in October 2010 in recognition of his achievements and his contribution to society

• Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) at the 150th Year Special Convocation and Valedictory Function, September 2008, University of Madras, India

• 2008 Champion of Youth Award at the 4th World Youth Congress, August 2008, in Quebec City, Canada

kandeh yumkella and koroma12• Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement, April 2008, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

• Presented by Prince Albert of Monaco the award of the “Prix De la Fondation” of the Crans Montana Forum for his global leadership and work in development, June 2006, Monaco
• Honorary Distinguished Visiting Professor by the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, March 2006, China

Last weekend, Dr. Yumkella who is now widely tipped to become the next president of Sierra Leone in 2018, received a hearty and resounding welcome in the UK from thousands of Sierra Leoneans who gathered in Reading, Manchester and London to meet him (Photo), and listen to his vision for Sierra Leone.

Love him or hate him, there is no denying the fact that Kandeh Yumkella is one of Sierra Leone’s most illustrious. He possesses a leadership pedigree that many of his political adversaries would envy. But they need not be envious, as he is looking forward to reaching out across the political spectrum of Sierra Leone, to build what he calls his ‘Grand Political Coalition’.

For many throughout the World – in particular in the United Nations, Kandeh is one of the most humble and loyal public servants one could find anywhere.

He said his mission now is to return to Sierra Leone in August, to begin to build his ‘Grand Political Coalition’ that should take him to the presidency in 2018, when the huge challenge of rebuilding Sierra Leone shall commence.

5 Comments

  1. Has anyone asked this man, what was his relationship with Sierra Leoneans living in Austria? If he cannot consider us as his own, then what plans does he have for our country Sierra Leone?

  2. You all want to bluff with all of Dr. Kandeh’s accomplishments? Well in his time in office, Ernest Bai Koroma has won some awards too:

    1. Under his leadership, Sierra Leone is now one of the countries with the fewest toilets per person.

    2. At a time of the worst Ebola outbreak in history, his administration has borrowed the most, for each number of government buses in any country in the developing world. Never mind the average citizen can’t afford the bus fare.

    3. Under his leadership, teenage pregnancy is on the rise. In spite of donated funds, infant and maternal mortality rates actually increased.

    4. EBK has the most shameless praise singers who will say anything just to maintain their own daily bread.

    5. EBK fired his own vice president for not being corrupt enough. He has successfully disregarded the constitution and appears to have enticed the supreme court into joining his praise singing choir.

    6. EBK’s greatest accomplishment is that he has not been able to get one hospital in Sierra Leone up to a standard where he would feel comfortable of having his annual check up, instead of flying all the way to Germany.

    7. EBK has spent the most, yet he has the least to show for his time in office. Sierra Leone will be much better off without Ebola Ernest.

    The question was asked several years ago: Are you better off with Ernest Koroma? I’m sure the answer the average Sierra Leonean would give is ‘HELL NO’.

    I can’t wait to meet Dr. Kandeh in Dallas. It will be a great pleasure to meet the next president of Sierra Leone.

    Dr. Kandeh, the next time the SLPP asks what have you done for the party, just respectfully remind them that you’ve been busy energizing the world. There are 7 billion people on the planet. What % of that is the SLPP?

    As I told my daughter years ago, never dim your light for people who can’t appreciate how bright you shine.

  3. Kandeh Yumkella should know that posturing with celebrities or leaders is childish and an indication of political immaturity.

    Is Kofi Anan the President of Ghana? Again Kandeh should know that Sierra Leone has seen many United Nations personnel in the leadership team of government, but that did not halt the decadence to which our people were subjected.

    May be he is intimidating his SLPP opponents.

    Working for the UN is like driving an AUTOMATIC car; every move and its effect has been preset.

    The country would like to see an aspirant who understands what the people are going through, not somebody who will be willing to sell or mortgage the country for their own good.

    Can the advisers of the Yumkella team note that Sierra Leoneans are not stupid worshipers of pseudo leaders. Perhaps with all these international contacts, Kandeh should try going for the United Nations Secretary-Generalship.

    Stop school boy politics. Sierra Leone needs more than gimmicks! A word for the wise is sufficient and complete.

    • Hmmm! What on earth is KKY playing at?

      Why is he working so hard to please the President and members of the APC party? The party that Sierra Leoneans hold responsible for the decadence of the country?

      Does he not know that you cannot be everyone’s friend?

      I wish him good luck, however, I doubt whether voters who want positive change in Sierra Leone will trust him enough to vote for him

    • Godwin, you seem to suggest that because former UN Secretary General Annan did not aspire to the presidency of his homeland, Ghana, that Dr. Yumkella should not aspire to the presidency of Sierra Leone.

      To help you understand your fallacious logic, you are implying that Secretary Annan and Director-general Yumkella have completely overlapping portfolio of professional and academic assets, but this is not the case.

      Secondly, you are assuming that they both held the same sets of aspirations at the end of their tenure with the UN, but this too would not be a correct assumption by a long stretch of the imagination.

      Thirdly, and perhaps most impirtantly, you are implying that Ghana and Sierra Leone have been governed to the same level of development both in infrastructure, health, education, and human capital development indices. Alas, this too would be a major flaw in your reasoning.

      Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the people of Sierra Leone would be well-served to have the good fortune of seating the illustrous Dr. Yumkella as their next president, given the status quo of Sierra Leone as one of the poorest and least developed countries on earth.

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