Kandeh Yumkella Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Kandeh Yumkella

Birthday :

July 5, 1959

Also Known For :


Birth Place :

Kychom, Kambia, Sierra Leone

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Kandeh  Yumkella was born on July 5, 1956, in Kychom in Samu chiefdom, Kambia District in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. Yumkella was born to Alhaji Bai Shebora Yumkella II who was a paramount chief and the founder of the Sierra Leone People’s Party and Haja Binta Yumkella who was the daughter of paramount chief Tambamka Chiefdom in Bombali District. In 1982, Yumkella graduated from Njala University College in Sierra Leone with a Bachelor of Science in General Agriculture.

In 1986, Yumkella graduated from Cornell University in the United States with a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics. In 1991, Yumkella graduated from the University of Illinois with a Doctorate in Agricultural Economics.


In 1994, Yumkella was appointed the Minister for Trade, Industry and State Enterprises in Sierra Leone a post that he held up to 1995. In 1996, Yumkella was named the Special advisor to the UNIDO Director-General. With that post, he began his work for the United Nations International Development Organization (UNIDO). Yumkella, later on, became the UNIDO Representative and Director of the Regional Industrial Development Center in Nigeria. Yumkella also served as Senior Advisor to the UNIDO Director General, Carlos Alfredo who served between 2003 and 2005. In 2005, Yumkella was appointed as the Director General of the UNIDO a post that he held for eight years. In 2008, Yumkella was appointed as the chair of UN Energy by the present UN Secretary General. In his position, Yumkella was given the authority to oversee all United Nations Organizations dealing with energy issues.

In 2011, Yumkella was appointed by the UN Secretary General to co-chair the High level Group on Sustainable Energy for all. In 2012, the UN General Assembly established what was known as the International Year for Sustainable Energy which was made possible by Kandeh as the chair of the High level Group on Sustainable Energy for All. In the same year, Yumkella was appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as the Special Representative for the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative a post that he holds to date.



In 2006, Yumkella was awarded the ‘Prix De la Foundation’ for his work in global leadership and development. In 2008,  Yumkella was awarded the Champion of Youth Award at the 4th World Youth Congress held in Canada. In 2012, he received several awards including the United Nations Association Global Leadership Award and the Triangular Cooperation Visionary Award.  In 2013, Yumkella was awarded the Energy Efficiency Visionary Award and he was a recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award awarded to him by the Green, White and Blue Commission.



In 2008, Yumkella was awarded an honorary degree in recognition of his public services by the University of Madras. Yumkella has been named as an honorary distinguished visiting professor by the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade. In 2011, he was awarded a Doctor of Science from Njala University in Sierra Leone. In 2012, Yumkella was awarded an honorary professorship at the Mongolian University of Science and Technology in Mongolia.


Personal Life

Kandeh Yumkella married Philomena Yumkella with whom he has two daughters. The family lives in Vienna where he works for the UNIDO at the Vienna International Centre.

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