Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 December 2017:
Elections in Sierra Leone are due on 7th of March 2018, and as political parties step up their propaganda offensive against each other, not even State House has managed to stay away from the spreading of negative propaganda, especially against presidential hopeful Dr. Kandeh Yumkella.
Next year’s presidential election will be a two-horse race between Dr kandeh Yumkella and Mr Samura Kamara, whose stewardship at the ministry of finance was so poor that he had to be removed by president Koroma, so as to prevent further damage to the economy as poverty, unemployment, inflation and the national debt grew.
President Koroma’s decision to personally join the fray in rubbishing the work of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella in Sierra Leone, smacks of political desperation for the ruling party to stay in office.
But the National Grand Coalition campaign team have been quick to debunk the ruling party’s effort to rubbish Dr Yumkella’s track record in promoting the development of Sierra Leone, and these they say are some of his achievements:
Raised $500, 000 to help tackle Ebola
As an internationally-connected distinguished citizen of Sierra Leone, Yumkella mobilised US$500,000 for Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis. The Director- General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) approved the half-a-million dollars grant, in support of the World Health Organization campaign to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. The grant was approved following Yumkella’s discussions with the Director General of OFID – Mr. Suleiman J. Al-Herbish.
Established UNIDO Office in Sierra Leone
With Dr. Yumkella as Director-General of UNIDO, the first UNIDO Sub-regional Office was opened in Sierra Leone in 2005, creating job opportunities and raising the profile of Sierra Leone as a potential economic hub in the sub-region.
Lumley Tokeh Road
The first international visit of President Ernest Bai Koroma, after his election in 2007, was to UNIDO Headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The visit was at the invitation of Dr. Yumkella as Director-General of UNIDO. At the end of the visit Dr. Yumkella facilitated a $10 million loan for the construction of the Lumley-Tokkeh Road by the OPEC Fund.
Hydro electric power (hep) Dams
In 2013, Dr Yumkella initiated and convinced UNIDO to fund the construction of three HEP DAMS in Charlotte, Moyamba and Bankasoka in Port Loko in partnership with the Chinese government. The multi-million-dollar Bankasoka Dam is now nearing completion, while the Charlotte Dam is also under construction near Freetown.
This is a YouTube clip of president Koroma back then, giving a speech where he credited Yumkella and referring to Yumkella as a valuable asset to Sierra Leone. But today, president Koroma is denying Yumkella’s efforts:
Fishery and marine training institute
The Sierra Leone Fishery and Marine Training Institute was Built by UNIDO, under the directorship of Dr Kandeh Yumkella, at a cost of over one million, five hundred thousand dollars ($1,500,000). It was built to replace the old institute that was burnt down during the rebel war.
Dr Yumkella as Director General also facilitated the training of 14 Sierra Leonean graduates in various aspects of Marine Engineering at the Astrakhan Technical University in Russia. Those students qualified and returned home, and are now running the institute.
Economic Growth Centres
Dr Yumkella in his campaign for sustainable energy for all and in promoting the fight against poverty, facilitated the setting up of 11 Growth Centres across the Country by UNIDO. These Centres offer apprenticeship in local building materials production, computer skills, metalwork, tailoring, bricklaying, cassava processing, and local juice production, creating thousands of job opportunities for local youths.
The Centres also promote the production and sale of ice, and sale of cold drinks using solar powered refrigerators. They also provide entertainment for the youths, including showing live satellite football matches; and affordable energy for powering the machinery of trades men. The Centres are promoting and encouraging youth empowerment.
Biomass Grassifier in Kychom Kambia district
This Biomass Grassifier was installed by Dr Yumkella. It uses rice husk to provide power for rice mills, carpentry equipment, and cold freezers. It was installed in Kambia by UNIDO, under Dr Yumkella’s stewardship as a pilot project which was adapted from India.
The grassifier powers 250 houses in Kychom and provides street lighting, energy for the Centres – which in turn provide apprenticeships; it powers public buildings – mosques, schools, churches and commercial centres.
The project has boosted trade and education provision in Kambia district. Dr Yumkella’s aim is to replicate this success in other parts of the Country.
Youth Employment Fund Programme
In 2011, Dr Yumkella’s UNIDO established a youth to youth funded programme to create employment and small businesses in a bid to promote peer employers. By the end of 2011, 12 businesses had been created; 144 mainly female and disabled youths have also established micro businesses.
Some of the businesses set up are: ink remanufacturing and water purification in Freetown; and a solar charging kiosk in Kailahun. Several micro businesses have been created by UNIDO under Dr Yumkella all over the country, and these continue to create jobs for hundreds of youths.
Solar Energy Project
This project was initiated by Dr Yumkella and funded by UNIDO as a pilot project in Kambia to provide basic lighting for pupils to study at night, for health centres, apprenticeship workshops, mosques, schools, churches and other public buildings. Support in the form of equipment was also provided for the Barefoot Women’s College in Kontaline under this project, to help promote Rural Electrification.
Quality Standards and Control Lab at Kissy
UNIDO under Dr Yumkella, funded the establishment of a National Quality Control initiative for Sierra Leone, and a fully operational Micro-Biological and Chemical Testing Laboratory. It also paid for overseas training of Sierra Leoneans to run the lab. UNIDO also funded the construction of a Meteorology Laboratory at Kissy, Freetown.
These facilities were established at a total cost of 8 million dollars for the ECOWAS wide project, and have helped add value to Sierra Leone’s fishing sector, and has now made it possible for Sierra Leone to realize greater income from cash crops and marine exports.
Hydro-electricity Centre at Fourah Bay College
The 150 thousand dollars Hydro Electric Power Centre was built by UNIDO for engineering students of FBC under Dr Yumkella. It will help train future hydro engineers in the University’s Engineering Faculty.
Two Solar Centres were also established by UNIDO under Dr Yumkella to provide 24-hour electricity for the libraries; and to also power computer labs for internet access at both Njala and FBC.
The Crest Programme
Under the Community Resilience through Entrepreneurship and Skills Training (CREST) programme, Yumkella’s stewardship at UNIDO, established a workforce skills and business training centre in Kambia for vulnerable youths and women in local food processing, value addition, micro finance, computer skills and other apprenticeships.
Since its inception, over 1,000 youth have been empowered in micro finance and marketable skills.
So what has Dr. Kandeh Yumkella done for Sierra Leone?
Quite simply – he has done more than president Koroma achieved before becoming president, and certainly more than Samura Kamara has done for Sierra Leone.
Looking at the above list of projects and programmes either initiated or funded by UNIDO under Yumkella’s stewardship, it would be dishonest for anyone – let alone president Koroma to deny or attempt to rubbish Dr. Yumkella’s contribution to the development of Sierra Leone in the last ten years.
And this track record not only qualifies Dr Yumkella to stand for the presidency, but makes him the most suitable candidate to lead Sierra Leone and remove the country from its current unenviable position – as one of the poorest nations in the world.
Dr Samura Kamara (Photo) may have a ‘track record’ as the former finance minister in the failed Koroma government, but his track record is poor.
Samura orchestrated and presided over the declining performance of the country’s economy, and brought the nation to bankruptcy.
Public sector workers’ salaries are not being paid, because the government has run out of money; inflation is at an all-time high; unemployment stands at over 80% of the adult population; Sierra Leone’s debt has quadrupled from zero in 2001 to over $3 billion today; less than 25% of people in Sierra Leone have access to regular supply of electricity; and less than 40% of households have access to clean, safe drinking water.
Electing Dr Samura as president of Sierra Leone in 2018 will be bad news for the people of Sierra Leone. It will mean a continuation of the failed policies of president Koroma – characterised by state capture; it will mean more corruption in high places; it will mean a continuation of poor governance and lack of accountability for public funds – especially international aid; and it will take Sierra Leone back to the dark ages, with increasing lawlessness, impunity, squalor, poor healthcare, and abject poverty.