It was Ebola that put Sierra Leone under global attention in recent years. But for myself, it was Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella who inspired me to know Sierra Leone, a less fortunate country in West Africa. (Photo: SUN Xi, 孙 喜, author)
In September 2007, as an officer working for the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, I first met Dr. Yumkella, then the newly appointed Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), during the China International Fair for Investment & Trade (CIFIT).
I accompanied and assisted Dr. Yumkella through all his busy schedules during the conference. Through the extensive and close contacts, I realized that such a wise and energetic man will definitely be a promising leader for Sierra Leone and even our whole world in the future.
During personal communications, Dr. Yumkella shared lots of his past stories and also his ambitious dreams. His past experience of growing from a humble background and witnessing too many sad stories on the ground makes Dr. Yumkella to firmly pursue his personal mission deep in his heart: to help those in poor.
When I asked him, “in your opinion, what is the most valuable thing for poor people?”, “opportunity”, he replied without any hesitation. He strongly believes that as long as being given proper chances, most poor people can make great achievements. Therefore, what he has been doing so far have one common goal: creating more opportunities for people.
Through his excellent work for the UNIDO and the Sustainable Energy for All, Dr. Yumkella has gained worldwide reputation for addressing global issues, including poverty reduction, climate change, the Millennium Development Goals, and green industry and renewable energy.
Dr. Yumkella is well connected with the international community and has high exposure in both academia and global media, thus his reputation will be the best business card for Sierra Leone to attract foreign capital. More importantly, Dr. Yumkella is willing to serve his nation and people, even giving up his decent life in western countries.
Dr. Yumkella’s commitment, expertise and resources perfectly fit Sierra Leone’s current needs to develop its weak economy, with high youth unemployment, corruption and weak national cohesion.
In fact, Sierra Leone is rich in natural resources, such as diamonds, titanium, bauxite, gold and rutile, and it is home to the third-largest natural harbor in the world. However, most of its people still live in poverty. Why? Because it lacks of great leaders and good governance.
In comparison, a tiny city-state, Singapore has almost no natural resources expect for the harbor, but within several decades, it has become a world-class business center, with one of the highest GDPs per capita around the world. Its founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s contribution was the key.
Obviously, a responsible and visionary leader plays the crucial role in national development, especially for developing countries.
In the near future, only Sierra Leonean people’s wise votes can bring peace, prosperity and glory to the nation still in desperation. Clearly, Dr. Yumkella is the best choice!
SUN Xi, 孙 喜
The writer, a China-born alumnus of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, is an independent commentary writer based in Singapore.
Stay with Sierra Express Media, for your trusted place in news!