Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 October 2015
Sierra Leone’s presidential hopeful – Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella arrived back in Freetown yesterday evening, after a week-long engagement at the UN in New York and then attending the G20 Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.
Speaking with the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph – Abdul Rashid Thomas, shortly after his arrival in Freetown last night, a cheerful Yumkella said that he has had a very busy and productive trip, and was delighted to be home to continue his political engagement.
“In the last two weeks, I was back in New York, where I was invited by the UN Secretary General – Ban Ki Moon to be part of the celebrations of the adoption of the Post 2015 Development Agenda, which replaces the Millennium Development Goals, but more specifically, the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal No. 7, which will ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable modern energy supply for all. This is what I built over ten years ago – a coalition to achieve that goal which they couldn’t do for twenty years.”
“The UN Secretary General also invited me to New York to help introduce my successor Ms. Rachel Kyte to the world, and we briefed member states that she is now taking over responsibility for Sustainable Energy For All. In addition, I was presented with an award in Washington DC at a big Gala event that was attended by some people from the US Congress, former Senators, and also the US Secretary for Energy – Professor Ernest Moniz (Photo), to recognise my work and contribution to public services.
“After that, I was in New Jersey and Houston Texas where the Mayor received me in her office, and also one of the leading Congresswomen in the Black Caucus, also flew in from Washington to attend the KKY town hall banquet. She is a very powerful, successful and influential congresswoman, and she graced our event with her presence. So this is what I was up to in the US.
“Then I went over to Kazakhstan. I was invited as a keynote speaker at the Europe Asia Energy Forum, involving Russia, Central Asia and China. Then I flew in to Istanbul for the G20, which was the first time the various G20 energy ministers met together. In January this year, the Secretariat called to ask me to put a group together to develop an Action Plan for achieving universal access to energy in Africa for the consideration of the G20 heads of State.
“The G20 countries control 70% of global GDP – the most powerful group of finance ministers and heads of state in the world. And when it comes to energy the G20 countries consume about 70% of the world’s energy. (Photo: Yumkella and the UK minister of international development – Grant Shapps).
“So for me it was really important that this work is the legacy that I am leaving for Africa, and I was delighted when the new president of the African Development Bank asked all present to stand in recognition of my efforts in putting all of this together.
“On the first day of the meeting – 1st of October, I chaired the whole of the morning session.”
But the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph put it to Yumkella that one of the key issues facing developing countries – especially Africa, with respect to the debate about sustainable energy is finance, and sustainable energy does not come cheap. How is Sustainable Energy for All going to be achieved in Africa without new funding?
Yumkella replied: “That was the core issue of the discussions at the G20 Summit.” He said that, “Africa needs over $40 billion annually to expand energy production capacity. We have a total of about 2 Gigawatts of power in sub-Sahara Africa and we need to raise that to about 6-8 Gigawatts in order to begin to achieve universal access to energy by 2030.
“In order to achieve this, we need as I said earlier we need $40 billion investment annually. Fortunately the new president of the African Development Bank (ADB) – Dr. Akinwumi Adesina (Photo: centre) has also adopted energy as his number one priority, and he was very clear about this.
“So you can see that my vision was correct ten years ago. This is what I have been lobbying the world about. The new president of the ADB has said that without energy, nothing will work in Africa.
“The G20 has picked this up and they’ve asked me to put this agenda together and they will look at it when the heads of state meet in November. So we are hoping that big finance will come forward. Already the European Union has committed $2.5 billion for the next seven years.
“This EU funding will leverage an additional $10 billion. So it’s not a bad start, but it’s not enough. And so we are hopeful, because China is the next Chair of the G20 and they will also take the agenda forward.
“Obama has got the Power Africa, which is pledging about $32 billion. So there is a lot of work to be done to get to the $40 billion target that Africa needs to achieve universal access to energy. These pledges will be the seed corn that will lever the additional funding.
“But what we need to know is that investment will not come, if we Africans do not put strong governance structures in place. Eighty percent of the energy utility companies in sub-Sahara Africa are bankrupt.
“And you can’t have any investor coming here to invest in independent power production if the power utility company cannot collect utility bills. You cannot ask investors to invest if the energy sector is not governed properly, and if the laws are not there to protect their investment.
“So asking people to give money is one thing; having a conducive policy environment and the transparency and sector governance to give confidence to a private investor who wants to come to Sierra Leone for example, to build a new hydro-electricity dam that will generate about 3 Megawatts of electricity to power the country, will need to have the utility bills collected for over thirty years in order to recoup their investment. (Photo: Yumkella with the CEO of General Electric Africa – Jay Ireland).
“You must have strong sector governance structures with transparency in place to attract that level of investment, without which it’s not going to work.”
Abdul Rashid Thomas then put it to Yumkella: “Given such a huge challenge for the African governments, what prospect is there for accountability, transparency, and good governance to be put in place in order to lever that level of investment in Africa’s energy resources. You are talking about $40 billion, and the change that has to take place is going to be quite huge.”
“I remain hopeful. I am an eternal optimist who believes that our governments understand that whether it is energy, agriculture, the health sector or education, you need clear and transparent public policy; you need clear and transparent sector governance structures; you need strong and credible institutions to manage those sectors, ” said Yumkella.
Kandeh also said that: “If corruption has consumed those institutions, people will not invest. So what are we going to do? In the energy sector in most African countries, there is too much corruption and that needs to change, otherwise investors will go to Asia where they will get a good and safe return for their money.
“So we need to have clear energy policy, good investment protection laws that is strongly administered and policed; you need good power purchase agreements that will guarantee their return in investment, and consumers have to know that if you want reliable electricity you have got to pay.
“It is not an easy public policy for most African governments who believe that because people are poor so energy should be cheap. But the investor has to recoup their investment. So how you achieve that balance between affordability and commercial viability is the challenge for Africa.”
Abdul Rashid Thomas agreed that; “It is going to be a challenge because we know poverty is endemic in Africa, where most people are either unemployed or earning very little, hence are living below the poverty line and cannot afford to pay for private sector generated electricity without some form of government subsidy,” but asked: “Do you think that tariff subsidy is something that the likes of the World Bank and IMF will entertain?”
Kandeh replied: Yes you can do smart subsidies and there is a lot of discussions now about subsidising energy tariff for those at the bottom of the income scale in Africa. You can do smart subsidy with a sunset clause attached, for a given period if you want to encourage renewable energy. So there are ways this can be done. These are some of the things we discussed at the G20 in Istanbul.
“This is why we need the expertise in Africa in the energy sector.”
In concluding the discussions with Yumkella upon his arrival in Freetown, Abdul Rashid Thomas asked him about his plans, now he is back at the grindstone of Sierra Leone politics.
He said: “Now I am back in Sierra Leone, its politics once again for me, engaging fully with all partners and stakeholders.”
Am surprised to see some of my fellow Sierra Leonean brothers in their various arguments/comments narrowly assessing Dr. Kandeh Yumkellah’s leadership – as they say ‘exhibited on the world map’ having been a UN civil servant.
Some are even saying the man is overqualified to lead Sierra Leone as President. What is more disturbing, is the fact that many or all of these people pretending to know Dr. Yumkellah, are dismally presenting the man as a world class civil servant capable of leading the whole world as President, are not even privy to the job description of Dr. Yumkellah at the time he was in that post.
Besides, they seem to lack the knowledge that to be a UN civil servant is completely different from the position of President anywhere and in any country.
I wonder what they are basing their assessment on. My only advise to all of us is that if we truly love and are proud of Sierra Leone, and we want our people to regain back the respect and happiness that had been taken away from them by this failed APC government, we must be very careful in choosing our next leader come 2018.
Let us put aside all our differences and take a look at our flagbearer Aspirants with analytical views when we go to the delegate convention polls. This is a WARNING TO ALL, otherwise we will only blame ourselves.
I ask a simple question here. Is this newspaper pro Kandeh Yumkella? All I see on the front page is advert of Mr. Yumkellah. I have also browsed through to see if I can see other flagbearer aspirants. But perhaps I need to go to Specsavers. Please ease my mind Mr. editor.
Dear Mr Kpaka
it is with great pleasure that we attempt to put your mind at ease, so please save your money and do not go to Specsavers – your eyesight appears perfectly ok.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph is strictly presidential and flagbearer candidacy neutral. We have offered all aspirants the opportunity to engage with the Telegraph, and this offer remains open.
Please note that we have published several articles about other candidates and will continue to do so. However it is incumbent upon candidates for the presidency or party flagbearship and their campaign teams to send their copies to the Telegraph for consideration.
The Kandeh Yumkella advert you refer to is strictly a commercial arrangement in line with our advertising policy. Other candidates may feel free to send us their interest in obtaining similar advertising space, and we will inform them about cost.
But we promise to interview candidates (upon request), and publish all articles relating to and sent to us by any political party in and out of Sierra Leone, subject to our editorial policy.
Thanks for your comment and hope that we have succeeded in putting your mind at ease. Please continue to read the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
Abdul R Thomas
Dear fellows Sierra Leoneans,
It has been interesting reading your Comments. I must say that I am really impressed about how some of you Analyse the many problems we face as a nation.
If only we would use this platform as a brainstorm forum instead of verbal fights, and bring ALL our various talents together, we should be able to pickup the issues or problems one at a time, define/understand them properly, suggest solutions and eventually settle for the optimum one.
What if we present these appropriately defined problems and their solutions to the appropriate Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for implementation, or to candidates, as the assignments we need them to carry out.
How do we ensure that our efforts are not in vain; that our assignments are binding on candidates or MDAs, and must be carried out? Why do candidates or MDAs care less about us and do not feel obliged when we give them assignments?
To answer this question, lets look at what i would call the national organogram, which shows the hierarchical relationships in the the country.
At the top level is the the executive, At the next lower level is the parliament, then comes the judiciary. At the tail end is where we have the constituencies ( geo-political & professional).
It is therefore clear to see that although the constituencies employ and pay all the others, we do not occupy the right position in the salone hierarchical relationship chart, and so do not have the necessary power to fire those whom we hire.
To solve this problem we need to rewrite our national organogram. I will limit the organogram to two or three levels; they are the ones that bear relevance to the point I am trying to make:
Top level—(Constituencies – professional and geopolitical)
level 2——–(The legislature)
level 3———-(the executive, judiciary, others)
As you can see from the diagram above, if we are able to control the parliament by being able to fire the MPs if need be, then we will be able to control every other institution in the country. We will also be able to ensure that our efforts are not in vain, that our assignments are binding on candidates or MDAs, and MUST be carried out for the development of salone.
Now, how do we ensure that we give legal powers to each geopolitical constituency to be able to fire their MPs and by extension the president and the ministers, at any time, when they prove incompetent, just as one would handle incompetence in any institution or Organisation?
Do we concentrate all our efforts now to make sure such legal powers are included in our constitution? What do you guys think?
I challenge you guys to let us brainstorm on these points, come up with an agreed solution, and let us present this to the Constitution Review Commission for inclusion in the new constitution, and to candidates for their support. Glad to hear from you.
The problem we have found ourselves in at this material moment is not because of lack of the right laws or lack of proper implementation of such laws, but a presidency that acts above the laws of the land, since the beginning of the day he took office.
The unconstitutional removal from office of the then Chief Justice Ade Renner-Thomas and Bank of Sierra Leone governor – Dr. James Rogers in 2007 speaks to such actions.
The fall out from these egregious decisions is the weakening of vital public institutions, as is evident in the weak monetary policies and its concomitant ramifications on our economy. And the less one says about the judiciary in Sierra Leone, the better.
Our problems in Sierra Leone are man-made, and if we can just summon the courage and fortitude to continue fighting for our country’s interest, by electing the right person in the office of the presidency, most of our problems will be solved.
We are fed up of the international community doling out aid to our governments irrespective of who the president is. This policy is colonial and patronising.
What we need now is for the people of Salone to elect a president that is trustworthy, competent, committed and will command the respect and confidence of investors.
Salone needs investments not handouts from a benevolent international community. But this investment can only come from investors that are confident about the quality of leadership we put in charge of running the country.
None of the current contenders for the presidency has the experience and expertise that KKY possess. We may not like him for whatever reason, be it tribal or otherwise, but we cannot deny that right now he is proving to be the ideal candidate for the presidency.
Finally I would like to suggest that the editor of the telegraph conduct a live broadcast interview of the main aspirants so that we can judge their potential.
Joe please explain what you mean by travelling manipulation. I have never come across this phrase before and am not sure what you are implying here.
I have been very sceptical about Yumkella’s potential to lead our nation but having seen his record in public office and listened and read his vision and intentions for Sierra Leone I must say that I am very impressed.
He is now here in salone engaging with a wide range of constituents and stakeholders. This is good.
So far he is proving to be the best hope for real and positive change in salone. I really do not see any other presidential aspirant that matches his pedigree to be fair.
I disagree with your assertion that the international community will continue to support salone irrespective. We need better leadership to be able to attract the kind of investments that transform salone.
I now believe that Yumkella is the right man for the job.
Boh, travelling manipulation cannot work. Let the guy roll up his sleeves to work with the ordinary Vamboi in Salone.
We are confident, the international community can help Salone regardless of who is in State House and what contact and relationship you have outside Salone.
We need well balanced public investment policy that guarantees payment of taxes by investors, transfer of skills and technology (guided by local content policy) and the creation of forward and backward linkages with the domestic economy.
Dr. Kandeh Yumkella’s diplomacy and goodwill around the world would be meaningless to Sierra Leoneans if he does not address the injustices and blatant corruption that is pushing Sierra Leone over the cliff of destruction. Yes, he has been vocal about wanting to lead the SLPP to the polls in 2018. But why is he silent on APC abuses in Sierra Leone?
Current president Barack Obama was an obscure Illinois State Senator when he made these statement at the height of the Iraq war in 2002 “I am not against war, what I against is a dumb war.” Those few words of opposition to the United States invasion of Iraq are among others; one of the reasons Obama is president of the United States today.
This is one of the reasons why we are demanding that our aspiring leaders this time around ask the relevant questions when it matters, as it helps put the potential leader’s strategies into perspective and focus, and shape a better message for the general elections. As a consequence, an opportunity is created for the potential leader to be battle tested, and potentially come out on top of the food chain a winner.
On the contrary, if aspiring leaders for political office are not asking the right questions this time around, some of us are not going to sit by and give them a pass. We are going to critically analyze their positions, platforms and readiness for the job. This way, just maybe, we will be able to end up with the right person for the highest office in our country, whose policies or lack thereof will have a real impact on our lives.
I therefore urge all well meaning Sierra Leoneans to get involved, help us check the proverbial ‘tires, bonnets, and under hood carriers’ of our potential politicians aspiring for high office in our country.
Africans continue to suffer because they reject leadership in favor of tribal sentiments. I am neither from Yumkella’s tribe or region but i have the understanding that among all the candidates for flag bearer he is the best possible candidate in terms of who has demonstrated leadership and integrity.
I totally agree with you Mr. Kamara, Dr. Yumkella has clearly demonstrated his leadership abilities on the world stage, and thus the reason why he is being recognized and applauded hitherto.
He has to now start using those skills on behalf of Sierra Leone, by starting to engage and speak openly on the governance challenges facing our country. For, if we want to participate in the global economy and make an impact, as his rhetoric seems to be suggesting, we have to do so based on acceptable global standards.
There cannot be one standard of governance for Sierra Leone and a different standard for the rest of the world.
Nobody will take us seriously, nor invest their hard earned resources in our country, be it in the energy sector, agriculture, or tourism.
If we want to elevate the living standards of our citizens, participate effectively in the global economy, we have to have global standards.
Moreover, Dr. Yumkella is in a particularly strategic position to speak on these issues, as his voice will resonate in the right quarters in the international community, and something will be done to stop the leakages going on in the economy; where for example buses that cost $20-30 thousand dollars at a minimum, passed for $120,000 without any serious challenge to such an abuse.
The constitutional crisis and the blatant lie and excuse by the Supreme Court judges to literally make up new law and arrogate more powers to the president is beyond comprehension.
It is therefore incumbent upon those of our brothers like Dr. Kandeh Yumkella who have a big stick, to confront some of these issues, and speak openly about them, and not just revert to his ‘modus operandi’ – the so-called diplomacy.
This is because, by the time he assumes political leadership in Sierra Leone – God willing, the damage that is being done to the country would have been so catastrophic that it will be almost impossible to reverse.
“To whom much is given, much is expected” the saying goes. The learned doctor, therefore needs to start spending some of his international political capital to speak for poor Sierra Leone before its too late.