The Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Dr Kandeh Yumkella, has been awarded the Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement 2008 by the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
Recipients of this award include individuals, who are highly distinguished in their profession, either internationally or nationally, and have helped their nation or the world by outstanding contributions to government, humanity, science, art, or human welfare; and have exemplify the strength of their education at the University of Illinois.
Previous recipients, include, inter-alia, Nobuko Matsubara, President, Japan Association for Employment of Persons with Disabilities in 2001; Atef Mohammed Ebeid, Prime Minister of Egypt in 2002; and Ashok Ganguly, Director of the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India in 2003.
The award ceremony took place on Thursday at the UIUC campus, USA, where Dr Yumkella gave a lecture and seminar.
The award is in recognition of Dr Yumkella’s exceptional leadership in development efforts to link sustained economic growth to poverty reduction, as well as to promote increased trade, and more efficient use of the world’s resources at the global level.
He received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991 in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.
Dr Yumkella’s early professional years focused on development activities in Sierra Leone, his native country, where he served as the minister for Trade, Industry and State Enterprise.
He also served as a member of the Ministerial Structural Adjustment Committee.
This committee provided oversight on policy reforms dealing with rationalization of the civil service, privatization, petroleum pricing, and monetization of the rice subsidy.
As minister, he worked actively to formulate, implement, and monitor economic reform programmes designed to strengthen enterprise reform, promote cooperatives, and stimulate small and medium enterprise development.
Since becoming Director-General of UNIDO in 2005, Dr Yumkella has been involved in the development of programmes to stimulate economic growth that benefit the poor in developing countries and economies in transition. He has strengthened UNIDO country-level partnerships with other UN and development agencies to accelerate progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Dr Yumkella has also received other international recognition for his leadership in economic development. In 2006, he received the Prix De La Fondation from Prince Albert of Monaco in recognition of his outstanding achievements on behalf of peace, liberty and democracy. In March 2006, he was awarded a Visiting Professorship at the Shanghai Institute, China. And, in 2007, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at Madras University in India as part of their Sesquicentennial Celebrations.
Dr Yumkella has maintained links with major universities and research institutes such as the Centre for the Study of African Economies, at Oxford University, and delivered speeches and public lectures in numerous academic institutions around the world.
Dr Yumkella is widely acknowledged as one of the most distinguished leaders in the field of international economic development.
He has used his exceptional abilities, professional skills and leadership to make a difference in the lives of many who live in less fortunate circumstances.