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22nd July 2018

Ex-UNIDO Country Representative Confirms Yumkella's Bankasoka Link!

By Joseph Koroma (13/02/18)

Former UNIDO Country Representative for Sierra Leone has confirmed that the NGC leader was the pioneer of the Bankasoka Hydro.


The author Mr. Joseph Koroma, a former UNIDO representative, confirms that there are two parts to the controversy of the Bankasoka Hydro project in Port Loko. (Photo: KKY with the NGC campaigners).

The UNIDO rep writes: First is whether or not Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, when he was Director-General of UNIDO, was instrumental in bringing the project to Sierra Leone. The second is whether or not the project was funded and built by the Chinese Government and not UNIDO.

I can authoritatively confirm the first claim that indeed Dr. Kandeh Yumkella was very much instrumental in both sourcing and resourcing the Gbankasoka Hydro project in Port Loko. And not only Bankasoka but also the hydro projects in Charlotte, Makali and Binkolo. I am confirming Dr. Yumkella's role in the hydro projects on the basis that I coordinated the exploratory face of the three projects in my capacity then as UNIDO Head of Operations and later Country Representative responsible for the Mano River Union countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea-Conakry).

The Bangladeshi UNIDO Engineer, Rana Pratap Singh, and I travelled the length and breadth of the Small and Great Scarcies Rivers in search of hydro sites. Equally for Charlotte, Makali and Binkolo. The objective of identifying a hydro potential site in Binkolo was to provide a source of power for the UNIDO funded Agro-processing Growth Centre in Binkolo which is operational to date and for which I was UNIDO Project Officer. The UNIDO Hydro Project Engineer for Bankasoka and I worked closely with the then General Manager of NPA, Zubairu Kaloko, and other senior staff members including Timbo and Dennis, whilst for Charlotte the UNIDO team worked closely with Mimister Hafsatu Kabba.

There are more details I can provide to shoot down those who deny the instrumental role played by Dr. Yumkella. But let me address the second part of the debate about whether the project was funded by China and not UNIDO. Dr. Yumkella during his numerous trips to China negotiated the project idea proforma with the Chinese government. The Chinese govermmemt accepted in principle to fund and implement project on one condition - that UNIDO itself made a counterpart contribution in cash or kind to the project.

So, all the personnel costs of the exploratory team of UNIDO Engineers and Field Office Staff including myself were approved by Dr. Yumkella and borne by UNIDO without which the Chinese Government could never have funded and implemented the Bankasoka project.

The delay in implementing the project had nothing to do with Dr. Yumkella or UNIDO but rather with the internal processes of identification of the company listed and approved and by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MofCom) to undertake the project. The first Chinese company given the contract to build the hydro was disqualified and it took a long time to select another.

It is clear from these first hand details that yes indeed the Bankasoka Hydro project was the initiative of Dr. Yumkella. And yes indeed the funding was provided by UNIDO and the Chinese Government and that the UNIDO counterpart contribution was a 'conditio sine qua non' for the project.

Let me conclude by asking a simple question addressed to those who accept that yes Dr. Yumkella had some kind of involvement but the resources were UNIDO's and not his personal funds. How many distinguished Sierra Leoneans including myself that worked for years for the United Nations and other international organization anf used their influence and not their personal resources to bring the kind of projects Dr. Yumkella brought to our native Sierra Leone from the Gbankasoka Hydro project, nationwide Agro-processing Centres (Binkolo, Kambia, Koidu, Bo, Pujehun, Kpandebu), 10 MW hydro project in Moyamba, Barefoot Solar Engineers, Standards Bureau/Meterology Laboratory, Marine Training School, to the establishment of the first UNIDO Office in Sierra Leone to cover the Mano River Union countries.

Last but not least, President Ernest Koroma's first international travel as President in 2007 was on an invitation from Dr. Kandeh Yumkella as DG to pay an official visit to Austria. I personally coordinated that visit here in Freetown in my capacity then as UNIDO Country Representative.


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