Dr. Kandeh Yumkella



Highlights on Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella


In 2012 New African Magazine voted him as one of the 100 Most Influential Africans. He is widely recognized for his unending efforts to address Africa’s challenges and opportunities. Born: 5 July 1959 Place: Kychom Samu Chiefdom, Kambia District. Parents: The late Paramount Chief Bai Shebora Yumkella II (one of the founding members of the SLPP) and Mrs. Haja Binta Yumkella, daughter of Paramount Chief Kandeh Kolleh the 1st of Tambamka Chiefdom, Bombali District. Spouse: Mrs. Philomena Yumkella (née Nicholas) from Bo and Sembehun, Moyamba District, Southern Sierra Leone. Mrs. Philomena Yumkella is the daughter of a successful Business man in Bo, Late Albert Cyril Nicholas aka Pa Nicho and Late Mrs. Nancy Nicholas aka Mama Nicho former Mayor of Bo City Council. 

Kandeh Yumkella the Ultimate Unifier


profilepicCommonly known as “Son of the Nation”, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella natural appeal across regional boundaries, ethnicity and different political strong holds didn’t happen by accident. His crisscross heritage and cultural background appeal including his innate skills to build a coherent unit, makes him the Ultimate Unifier that is capable of bridging political divide and ethnic differences.

North – West Connection Link

  • Dr. Kandeh Yumkella proud Susu by tribe hails from Kambia and son of Late Chief Bai Shebora Yumkella (one of the key players and founder of SLPP).
  • His mother Madam Binta Yumkella is a proud Fullah and a descendant of a ruling house in Tambaka Chiefdom, Bombali District
  • He is a Grand child of Late Chief Kandeh Kolleh I and his maternal grandmother a proud Limba by tribe.
  • Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, spent some of his best memorable life between school vacations and work in the Western Area where he was also able establish lifelong network of friends across all ethnicity and professional backgrounds.

South – East Connection Link

  • Dr. Kandeh Yumkella grew up in Bo town, attended his Secondary Education at Christ The King College (CKC), Bo and later his University education at Njala University, Mokonde.
  • Dr. Kandeh Yumkella got married in Bo town to his wife Mrs. Philomena Nicholas who is also a descendant from Sembehun, Moyamba District.
  • Mrs. Philomena Yumkella is the daughter of a successful Business man in Bo, Mr. Albert Nicholas (Pa Nicho) and Nancy Nicholas (Mama Nicho) former Mayor of Bo City Council.

This regional and ethnic Criss Cross makes Dr. Kandeh Yumkella even more appealing to the rest of the nation

Professional Highlights


Dated: 18/11/09 The Sierra Leone Conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London.  This picture shows Dr Dr Kandeh K Yumkella, Director General of UNIDO. #NorthNewsAndPictures/2daymedia

Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella is former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive Officer for the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative.

As Special Representative, Mr. Yumkella mobilized action toward a sustainable energy future and accelerated the implementation of the Secretary-General’s initiative. In this role, he successfully engaged with the leadership of relevant stakeholders in government, businesses, academia and civil society at the highest level to advocate for and promote sustainable energy for all.

Prior to his appointment as Special Representative and Chief Executive, Mr. Yumkella was appointed Co-Chair of the High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All by United Nations Secretary General in recognition of his leadership and passion for energy and environment-related causes following a decision by the United Nations General Assembly to designate 2012 as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All. In this position, he was instrumental in guiding the initiative and in underscoring the need for universal access to energy, increased energy efficiency and enhanced deployment of renewable sources of energy.

In 2008, United Nations Secretary-General appointed him Chair of UN-Energy in an effort to bring together all the United Nations organizations dealing with energy related issues. As its Chairman, Mr. Yumkella brought a renewed and vital focus to global energy issues and helped to coordinate the United Nations response to energy issues. The Secretary-General has requested Mr. Yumkella to remain in this position.

From 2008 – 2010, Mr. Yumkella was Chair of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC). As Chair of AGECC, he played a leading international role in identifying the lack of access to energy as a crucial constraint for development efforts. In April 2010, the group released its report and confirmed the need to increase energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy options in order to confront the challenges of climate change and realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

As a Member of the Rio+20 Principals Group, he played a crucial role in the preparations leading to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and has been an active member of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), with responsibilities for setting and coordinating the global development priorities of the United Nations.

Former UNIDO Director-General


Mr. Yumkella served as Director General of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for two four-year terms. He is the first from Sub-Saharan Africa to have been appointed to the position having worked in various high-level policy positions in the organization, including as Special Adviser to two previous Directors-General and as Director of the Africa and Least Developed Countries Regional Bureau as well as Representative and Director of the first UNIDO Regional Office in Nigeria.

Under his leadership, UNIDO was at the forefront in providing solutions to many of the challenges the global community faces today: poverty, jobs, wealth creation and climate change. UNIDO also experienced an unprecedented level of growth in its programmes and has maintained a role as the largest provider of trade-related technical assistance to developing countries in the United Nations system. This assistance has enabled many developing countries to produce and export goods meeting international standards.

Mr. Yumkella has also consistently championed the cause of cleaner production and strengthened the role of UNIDO as the second largest implementing agency in the United Nations system in helping countries to phase out ozone depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol. He also continues to provide leadership in deepening the programmatic and management reforms that have made UNIDO a model of reform in the United Nations system.

As special adviser to two former UNIDO Directors-General, he provided advice, leadership and strategic guidance on managing multilateral programmes, multicultural teams and interdisciplinary advisory services in fields such as institutional capacity-building, trade capacity-building, poverty reduction, industrial development dialogue and country-level donor coordination. Mr. Yumkella has consistently provided conceptual and operational leadership at national, sub-regional and regional levels and managed staff at UNIDO Headquarters and field offices related to Africa and LDCs.

He has facilitated international cooperation and strategic partnerships with bilateral and multilateral development agencies, including other United Nations agencies, and throughout his career he has consistently promoted interregional cooperation as well as South-South cooperation. He also facilitated high-level policy dialogue, consensus-building, advocacy and diplomatic negotiations at conferences of Heads of State, including the African Union, the Conference of African Ministers of Industry (CAMI), and United Nations global conferences.

Mr. Yumkella has extensive specialized executive and advisory experience in programme formulation, management and implementation and funds mobilization in fields such as private sector development, public-private sector dialogue and partnerships, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) support systems, capacity-building in industry and business associations, trade capacity-building, agro-industry and rural development.

Role in Global Advocacy and Public Policy


Mr. Yumkella is a strong believer that the most effective way to fight poverty is to strengthen the productive capacities of countries and peoples. He has advocated for pro-poor sustainable industrial and agribusiness development as a means of wealth and job creation and the economic empowerment of the poor.
With his commitment to multilateralism and consensus-building, he has visited all regions during his period as UNIDO Director General and he has travelled extensively to listen to regional political and private sector stakeholders. Mr. Yumkella is a firm believer in the linkage between “energy poverty” and “income poverty” in developing countries, and promotes the use of renewable energy to improve the productive capacities and welfare of rural communities.

Mr. Yumkella has participated in and/or delivered key policy speeches at numerous major international forums and events concerning global trade, development and climate change and energy issues.

Ministerial and Political Leadership Experience


A native of Sierra Leone, Mr. Yumkella was Minister of Trade, Industry and State Enterprises between 1994 -1995. As part of Sierra Leone’s economic reform programmes, he guided trade commerce and industrial policy formulation including implementation and monitoring. His portfolio also included deregulation, public enterprise reform and divestiture, promotion of cooperative societies and establishment of programmes for private sector and small and medium enterprise development.

He successfully promoted market reforms and signed Sierra Leone’s accession to the African Regional Standards Organization (ARSO) and launched initiatives to promote private sector development, establishment of public-private sector partnership and dialogue mechanisms.
He organized consultative processes between the government and the private sector for discussing constraints and obstacles to private sector growth with support from UNIDO, International Trade Centre (ITC), African Project Development Facility (APDF) and UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP/RBA).

As co-chair of the Public Enterprise Reform and Divestiture Commission (the privatization council), supervised an internal review of the privatization programme and promoted local awareness-building and domestic private sector participation in the programme.

He also served as a member of the ministerial-level structural adjustment monitoring committee which provided oversight on policy reforms dealing with rationalization of the civil service work force, judicial reform, petroleum product pricing, and monetization of the rice subsidy.

Research, Teaching and Technical Expertise

Between 1987 and 1996, he held various academic positions at Michigan State University and the University of Illinois. As a Development expert and former assistant professor, Mr. Yumkella has extensive research and teaching experience in agribusiness management and international agricultural development and trade.
He has published various articles, book chapters, staff working papers and policy briefs on crucial development issues related to economics, the international commodity trade, structural transformation in African agricultural and industrial sectors, as well as rural development, poverty alleviation, and environmental sustainability.

Mr. Yumkella has maintained links with various academic and research institutions, such as the Center for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University, and has given lectures to students and faculty at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom; the United Nations University in Tokyo; the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade; the Vienna Diplomatic Academy; Xavier Institute of Labor Relations (XLRI) in India; Seoul National University in Korea; Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary; Michigan State University and University of Illinois in the USA among others.

Awards and Honors


Mr. Yumkella is the recipient of numerous international awards including:
• 2015 Development Champion Award (October 17, 2015) – Brussels
• Order of Merit of the Austrian Republic (July 28, 2015) – Vienna
• Commander of the National Order of Cote d’Ivoire ( June 25, 2013)
• 2013 AAI Distinguished Alumni Award ( conferred in New York in September, 2013)
• 2013 Energy Efficiency Visionary Award (ASE-EE Global Forum) for his steadfast commitment to the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and his work to advance the next generation of energy efficiency through the pillars of investment, education and modernization.
• 2012 South-South and Triangular Cooperation Visionary Award (United Nations of South-South Cooperation)
• 2012 United Nations Association (UNA-USA) Global Leadership Award for the leadership he has provided to strengthen the United Nations
• Award of “Honorary Professor” by the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, Ulan Bator, Mongolia (April 2012)
• Wissam Award for service and son of Africa (March 30, 2011) for
• Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria in recognition of his contribution to global industrial development and poverty alleviation in the world, (March 2012)
• Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from the Njala University, Njala, Sierra Leone in March 2011
• Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) from TERI University, New Delhi in October 2010 in recognition of his achievements and his contribution to society
• Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) at the 150th Year Special Convocation and Valedictory Function, September 2008, University of Madras, India
• 2008 Champion of Youth Award at the 4th World Youth Congress, August 2008, in Quebec City, Canada
• Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement, April 2008, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
• Presented by Prince Albert of Monaco the award of the “Prix De la Fondation” of the Crans Montana Forum for his global leadership and work in development, June 2006, Monaco
• Honorary Distinguished Visiting Professor by the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, March 2006, China

Global Leadership and Consensus Building

  • Member, World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Climate Change, 2010-current.
  • Member, World Economic Forum, Future of Electricity Council
  • Member, China International Council on Cooperation for Environment and Development (CICCED), Chaired by the Vice Premier of China, 2010-current.
  • Member, Advisory Group on the Human Development index, 2012.
  • Member, Advisory Group of the International Peace Institute, Vienna Branch, 2011-current.
  • Member of the European Resource Efficiency (ERE) Platform, 2012
  • Member of Japanese Council of Eminent Persons and Experts, 2014


  • D. Agricultural Economics, University of Illinois, USA – 1991
  • Sc. Agricultural Economics, Cornell University, USA – 1986
  • Sc. Division One (Cum Laude) in General Agriculture, Njala University College, Sierra Leone – 1982

    Date of Birth: 5 July 1959

Employment Record


• UN -Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer, Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (July 2013 – July 2015)
• December 2005-2009: Director General of UNIDO; re-elected December 2009 -2013
• 2003-2005: Special Adviser to the Director General of UNIDO
• 2000-2003: UNIDO Representative and Director, Regional Industrial Development Centre, Nigeria
• 1996-2000: Director, Africa and LDCs Regional Bureau of UNIDO
• 1996: Special Adviser to the Director General of UNIDO
• 1994-1995: Minister for Trade, Industry and State Enterprises, Republic of Sierra Leone
• 1991-1996: Assistant Professor and Lecturer, Michigan State University, (leave of absence 1994-1995)
• 1989-1991: Assistant to the Dean, College of Agriculture, University of Illinois
• 1987-1989: Research and Teaching Assistant, University of Illinois
• 1982-1986: Marketing Officer, Sierra Leone Produce Marketing Board (leave of absence)