Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 March 2016
Celebrating 40 years of OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), was never going to be an ordinary affair, as the world of oil and gas, including top executives of the industry met on Monday, 21st March 2016 at its Vienna headquarters, to launch the industry’s Energy Access Platform in collaboration with the World Petroleum Council.
This ground breaking partnership involves Shell, Total, Shell Foundation, International Gas Union and the Global LPG Partnership.
Together, they seek to underscore the global oil and gas industry’s willingness to play an integral role in alleviating energy poverty.
This partnership also demonstrates their concerted effort towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal #7, particularly in developing countries, with a focus on electricity access and clean cooking solutions.
And Kandeh Yumkella, one of Sierra Leone’s aspiring presidential candidates in the country’s 2018 elections, was at the launch of this global initiative, where he reminded the world of the priorities.
“2015 was a dramatic year for energy markets and energy geopolitics,” said Kandeh Yumkella, the one-time Vienna resident and former UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. (Photo: OFID Director General, Sulaiman Al-Herbish presenting the 40th Anniversary souvenir to Dr. Yumkella).
“Volatility has now become the new normal, exposing the world’s inability to accurately predict the ‘unknowns’, and 2016 has started with the focus on the fourth industrial revolution,” noted Yumkella.
OFID celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, having disbursed about $19 billion in support to over 130 countries.
“This is a defining moment for OFID and for members of the oil and gas industry as we propel the effort to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable energy for all,” said Sulaiman Al-Herbish, OFID Director-General.
In 2010, both Yumkella and Jeremy Rifkin spoke about the third industrial revolution, at UNIDO’s 14th General Conference, and noted that a ‘distributed energy revolution’ is possible, because at some point “we can create our own energy, store it, and then distribute it to each other”.
Inclusive and Sustainable Development
At the recent gathering in Davos, Switzerland, of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the fourth industrial revolution was pronounced, with most business leaders arguing that a fusion of technologies is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
“The question for us all” said Yumkella, Sierra Leone’s distinguished development economist, is “will the third or the fourth industrial revolutions create inclusive, sustainable, resilient, global economic and social development over the next two decades?”
Leadership, Experience and Vision
The Energy Access Partnership (EAP) is one of many partnerships the former UNIDO Director-General helped to design, during his stint as CEO and Special Representative of the Secretary-General of SE4All.
Other initiatives include the Zero Routine Gas flaring programme, aimed at eliminating gas flaring in oil fields around the world, which was launched at the World Bank in April 2015; the Global LPG partnership aimed at bringing clean cooking fuels to households, which was launched in 2012; the Clean Cook Stove Alliance; Global Mini-grid Partnership; and the African Energy Leaders Group.
Prior to his arrival in Vienna, Dr. Yumkella and his wife Mrs Yumkella, were in Morocco, where he participated and chaired a high-level debate on Energy Security in the Crans Montana Forum in Dhakla, under the patronage of H. E. King Hassan of Morocco.
The debate focused on Renewables, Production and Environmental Concerns: The key to Economic Development in Africa.
Dr. Yumkella also had an interesting chat with the Reverend Jesse Jackson, whom he had met two years ago in New York, at the African American Institute’s 60th anniversary event, where Dr. Yumkella received the distinguished alumni award. (Photo: Dr & Mrs Yumkella with Reverend Jesse Jackson on the margins of the Crans Montana Forum in Morocco).
So what hope for Sierra Leone?
At this time of deep and growing uncertainty, Sierra Leone needs a visionary leader, with conviction and good track record, such as Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, to link this small impoverished African nation with global institutions, credible and reliable private sector investors, to create jobs and wealth that will lift the people of Sierra Leone out of abject poverty.
Today Sierra Leone more than ever, needs hope, good governance, policy innovation and transformative leadership.