Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 May 2016
Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UNIDO Director-General – Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, left the shores of Freetown yesterday, Sunday, 8 May, to take part in a series of regional events taking place in Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa.
In the Rwandan capital of Kigali, Dr. Yumkella will attend the 2016 World Economic Forum on Africa (WEC), hosted by the government and people of Rwanda. The Forum will engage top political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
In addition to sharing his expertise on development, industrialization and energy issues across the various high-level panels he will be leading, Yumkella is also scheduled to meet with a number of regional leaders.
As a member of President Barack Obama’s Power Africa Senior Advisors Group (SAG), convened by the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, Dr. Yumkella will also co-chair a session on “Tackling Energy Access” with former Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
Recognized widely for his leadership and consensus building skills on global issues, Dr. Yumkella is a member of numerous high-level policy associations.
At the World Economic Forum, he is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Climate Change and the Future of Electricity Council.
The Global Agenda Councils are a network of invitation-only groups that study the most pressing issues facing the world. Each council is made up of 15-20 experts, who come together to provide interdisciplinary thinking, stimulate dialogue, shape agendas and drive initiatives.
Following his engagements at the World Economic Forum in Kigali, he will proceed to Nairobi where he is scheduled to take part at the Frontier 100 Forum. The gathering brings together African and Global Business Leaders under the theme, “Engines of Growth: Powering African Countries to Create Employment and Accelerate Development.”
As former Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Dr. Yumkella put into motion sustainable industrial development pro-poor policies in an effort to reduce poverty.
He has continually called for a holistic approach that recognizes the links between energy and production, production and trade and the energy-production-environment nexus.
Yumkella is a strong supporter and champion of local entrepreneurship, along with private-sector involvement and the right policy environment, to ensure institution building and the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises that a country like Sierra Leone desperately needs.
It is this experience that he will share with participants, as he leads a session titled: Conversation with Kandeh Yumkella on Africa’s Economic Transformation through Value Addition.
Speaking to African Heads of State in Addis Ababa in 2013, Yumkella noted that industrialization is key to Africa’s renaissance. He has often said that growth in other regions is driven by structural change to manufacturing and value-added services, but in Africa, growth has been driven by a commodity exports boom. “This must change now. We must be the next industrial frontier, he said.”
In addition to universal education, Yumkella calls for “skills-formation to make the youth employable, or more productive, or to become entrepreneurs themselves. To complement food security, we must call for agribusiness development to create rural wealth to stem the mass migration of people to urban areas; and we must emphasize private sector wealth creation beyond mundane poverty alleviation, for you cannot eradicate poverty without creating wealth,” said Yumkella.
Not only has he called for the same in policies over the years in his native land of Sierra Leone, he has personally backed up his call by supporting these initiatives.
During a visit to Sierra Leone in 2012 in his capacity as Director-General, he noted that “with almost three-quarters of the population under the age of 30, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have one of the youngest populations in the world.”
Four years later and as a resident of Freetown, the unemployment crisis has increased and left many of the country’s youth disillusioned about their future.
If given the opportunity to lead the SLPP – Sierra Leone’s main opposition party as presidential flag-bearer, he will have to face this issue head one.
As he often says to the youths, “enough with being the grass root. It’s time to for you to grow into a tree that stands out.”
In Cape Town, Yumkella will deliver the keynote address at the 16th Africa Utility Week. The leading co-founder of the African Energy Leaders Group (AELG), his keynote address will focus on Power for All: The Only Option We Have for Industrialization in Africa.
Dr. Yumkella will also attend the annual awards dinner, where he is one of the candidates that have been shortlisted for recognition. A host of dignitaries have requested meetings with him on the margins of the Cape Town event.