Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 July 2020:
Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, MP for Constituency 062 – Samu Chiefdom, joined global energy leaders at a virtual high-level summit to take stock of the impact of the coronavirus disease on the Africa’s energy, oil, and gas sectors.
The Africa Ministerial Roundtable – COVID-19 Impact on Africa’s Energy Sector: Challenges and Opportunities was co-hosted by the Senegalese Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and the International Energy Agency.
In his special concluding remarks to African ministers and heads of international organizations and representatives of Governments from the UK, Japan, Italy, and the Netherlands present – including the AU and EU, Yumkella noted that this new decade must be Africa’s.
“We must ensure that the gains in energy access and transition are safeguarded even in the middle of a pandemic. It is important, therefore, that African finance ministers support their colleague energy ministers,” Yumkella said.
Encouraged by the enthusiasm of the remarks by the 10 ministers present, Yumkella further called on Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) including the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank (AfDB) among others “to walk the talk and keep energy central to the recovery plans” as they are helping African countries develop recovery plans.
Dr. Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Mr. Mouhamadou Makhtar Cisse, minister of petroleum and energy of Senegal, co-chairs of the summit, focused their discussion on policies and investments needed to best support Africa’s response to the coronavirus disease and the global economic recession.
“ The pandemic has forced Africa to face three challenges; a slowing down of the progress made in energy access especially the off-grid development, energy investment trend is dropping even further and a downturn in revenue in the oil and gas industry,” Fatih Birol said.
To achieve sustainable and inclusive transitions in Africa’s energy future, participants including Mr. Samson Gwede Mantashe – minister of mineral resources and energy of South Africa and current holder of the African Union presidency, underscored the need for international support, coordination, and solidarity. They also called for clear and effective government policies and investments that not only support economies but help develop resilient and sustainable energy systems.
Previously, Dr. Yumkella also took part in IEA’s fifth annual conference on energy efficiency. As a member of the Global Commission on Energy Efficiency Conference chaired by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland – he was among global thought leaders, CEOs, 40 ministers and heads of international organizations.
In his remarks, Yumkella spoke about the importance of advocacy and engagement at all levels to accelerate energy efficiency progress.
Recognizing that energy efficiency has the potential to create large number of jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the potential to boost economic activity, the committee called for higher ambition and faster action by governments to accelerate improvements in energy efficiency.
Hon. Yumkella also joined the World Bank and IMF Virtual Parliamentary Briefing on Pandemics with a special focus on COVID-19. At this briefing, legislators from across the globe discussed how to take rapid, coordinated action to mitigate the negative human and economic effects of COVID-19 and future pandemics.
On Wednesday, Hon. Yumkella joined eminent personalities at the EU-Africa High-Level Group – an initiative jointly launched by Friends of Europe, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and the One Campaign. The esteemed group will explore mutually beneficial ways both continents can work together effectively across core policy areas, including development cooperation, trade, investments, entrepreneurship, digital, migration flows, security, and climate change.
Dr Kandeh Yumkella MP, in a recent article I read, mentioned Carlos Slim as one of the world’s richest men and is a Mexican. Mexican entrepreneur Carlos Slim Helu is a self-made man, the son of Catholic Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. He was born in 1940 (age 80 years)in Mexico City to Julian Slim Haddad and Linda Helu Atta, both Maronite Christians from Lebanon. He is the chairman and CEO of telecom giants Telmex and America Movil; he has amassed a net worth of just over $50 billion as of May 2020. He is referred to as a Mexican in Mexico and worldwide, and not as Lebanese.
True that without energy supply, African countries will find it difficult to institute any developmental programmes to shape economic recovery after this deadly COVID19 pandemic. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella has hit the nail on the head. The talking should stop and we need action right across this vast continent. I wonder what happened to power Africa programme that was instituted by the then President of the United States Obama. With good investments in the energy sector, Africa has a unique opportunity to develop. Energy efficiency consumption is the feature. I think With our friendly relationship with China, one of the highest producer of solar panels in the world, our government should work with them to help us develop our own energy consumption, that will power every home and business in the country.
Right now there is huge competition going on between China and Western countries. Who will have the greatest development input or influence in Africa. Its like the 19th century scramble for Africa all over again. The United States is hell bent on countering Chinese influences in Africa. Hence the power Africa programme. We should take advantage of this competing partners and work with them to develop our countries. I think the governments of Angola and Ethiopia know this well more than most leaders in Africa and to some extent South Africa. Look at the billion dollars hydro electric dam that is under construction in Ethiopia, built and finances partly by the Chinese. We should work with them.
It is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. Especially a country like Sierra leone, blessed with enough sunshine, oil, winds and smart people. The only problem this government or any government before them has, they dont know their priorities. With the right political leadership and right frame of mind, our country will develop. We will never go to the IMF or ADB to finance this energy project. We have enough of everything. It is just knowing how to use it for the benefit of all, not the few. May God bless Sierra Leone!