Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 September 2016
Kandeh Yumkella, presidential flag-bearer candidate for the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) has arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, for the Expert Group Meeting and Workshop on South-South Cooperation for Ecological Civilization.
The event is taking place at the headquarter offices of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). It is sponsored by the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, and the Global Green Grown Institute.
UNEP is the global environment agency charged with promoting the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development with the United Nations.
The event which brings together experts that are charged with bringing forward a set of recommendations on how China should channel its huge portfolio of technical assistance and international cooperation (about $5 billion) for climate change and sustainability, will be chaired by Yumkella.
Erik Solheim, Executive Secretary of the UN Environment Program and Gu Xueming, President of the Chinese Academy for International Trade and Economic Development will deliver the opening statement.
Dr. Yumkella’s engagement in Nairobi follows his participation at the Thirty-Eighth Energy Seminar held at St. Catherine’s College – University of Oxford, UK, where he delivered a lecture on “The Role of International Oil Companies in Achieving Universal Access to Energy in Developing Countries.”
Yumkella made a brief stop-over visit to London, where he held a town-hall meeting with Sierra Leonean residents. He discussed the current state of the Sierra Leone economy.
Whilst in London, he also launched the Women’s Wing of the KKY UK&I (United Kingdom and Ireland) and used the opportunity to meet with his supporters and friends.
Dr Yumkella attended a climate conference on 22 September, 2016, at the Oxford Town Hall in the UK, which was attended by over 200 scientists, policymakers and business people to understand the implications of the climate goal and looking particularly at how this goal could be achieved.
The findings from the conference will contribute to a Special Report on ‘1.5 Degrees’ that the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will produce in 2018.
Using his vast development experience and collaborative work with SE4 All partners, spanning thirty years, Yumkella talked about the strategic importance of energy in achieving economic growth and socio-economic development.
These are critical issues for Sierra Leone’s future development, given the failure of successive governments – both APC and SLPP, to address the country’s energy needs and developmental priorities.
He outlined critical areas for action by the international oil and gas companies and highlighted five main areas for urgent intervention.
He spoke about supporting national energy planning and energy strategy, gas master plans, electrification road maps, business and financial modelling which are of significance to Sierra Leone, where the distribution and supply networks from the main electricity grid are in urgent need of upgrading.
Sierra Leone should be able to benefit from projects such as the Bumbuna and Bankasoke Hydro-electric projects, the latter, which Yumkella was instrumental in getting underway.
He informed the Oxford Town Hall meeting that developing the business eco-systems with appropriate national policies to incentivize private investments, is another issue of significance for Sierra Leone. But this will require putting in place robust governance systems at all levels.
He spoke about industrial skills development, as most countries lack essential skills across the whole energy value-chain. This is critical to the creation and provision of economic opportunities for Sierra Leone’s youths.
He said that Corporate Social Responsibility of firms is crucial, and this includes scaled-up investments in generation, transmission and distribution of energy, decentralization, engaging and supporting local communities to ensure that they share in the economic gains of development efforts.
Dr Yumkella said that this is important, if the mistakes of the current government are to be avoided, where the interests of local communities have been ignored as concessions are afforded to African Minerals, Koidu Holdings and other firms.
He made note of other local economic development initiatives, including coastal zone management to protect marine resources and prevent the economic damage caused by flooding, which has become common place in Sierra Leone.
On 23 September 2016, the KKY Movement hosted a Town Hall event in London, including a Question and Answer session at which Yumkella gave an overview of Sierra Leone’s economy and how he would put it back together, if elected President.
He drew attention to the contrast between the economic and developmental outcomes of Sierra Leone and Botswana, which has puzzled many scholars, to understand why countries like Sierra Leone that are endowed with an abundance of natural resources, are plagued with problems.
During the Q&A session, Yumkella highlighted the urgent need to ensure that over 18,000 ex-service personnel who fought for the country during the war, are integrated into the economy and are provided with opportunities for training, jobs and micro business start-ups, noting that democracy cannot be achieved without stability and security.
Dr. Yumkella emphasised unity, inclusiveness and dialogue as his watchwords for the opposition SLPP party, as it approaches the forthcoming general elections.
“I am here to unify and re-brand the party, and everybody – including Maada Bio – this is important. We need unity and togetherness to win elections,” he said.
He pointed out that the party cannot win elections with the support from the south-east alone, but needed support in all regions, and added that “We must teach the youth about the values of inclusiveness, governance and respect. Our party was founded on the bedrock of unity, and we would win elections only if we are united.”
Asked whether he was confident of winning the flag-bearer position of the party, he replied: “I am confident that if we have a clear process based on the rule of law, then I will surely emerge as the flag-bearer for the Sierra Leone People’s Party.”
The Town Hall meeting was followed by the launch of the Women’s Wing last Saturday, which both Dr Yumkella and Mrs Philomena Yumkella attended. Mrs Yumkella spoke passionately about her compassion for the poor and vulnerable; and about her fundraising efforts in securing over £1million of medical aid, clothing and other materials for disadvantaged sections of Sierra Leone society.