Dr. Yumkella Delivers 2017 Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures


The annual Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial lecture of the University of Ghana has been held at the Great hall of the University. The two-day lectures was on the theme, “Africa: A Continent of Hope, Opportunity and Transformation”. The lectures were delivered by Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General (USG) and chair of the UN-Energy (2008-2015).

Speaking on the topic: “Africa: The Era of Hope and Opportunity” Dr Yumkella stated that the negative narratives carried by western media such as the Atlantic magazine, the Economist, the Bottom Billion during the past decade chose to expose some of these misconceptions. He added that reflecting on these narratives and the transformation about the western media about Africa presently being considered as a continent of hope influenced his topic for the lecture.

Dr. Yumkella revealed that these new narratives was a result of improved Political Climate, Macroeconomic stability and Microeconomic Reforms. In other words, he said that African’s growth acceleration had widespread with 27 of the largest economies expanding more rapidly after 2000, the total foreign capital flows rising from 15 billion US Dollars in 2000 to a peak of 87 billion US Dollars by 2007, higher return rate foreign investment and the rise of African urban consumer.  Thus by 2010, 40% of Africans lived in urban areas, a portion close to China.

In his lecture, he further elaborated on the fact that certain projections made by economists such for 2020, 2030 and 2050 on the whole emphasized on the population growth which is expected to increase by 2.2 billion by 2050.



The second day of the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures, a well-attended event chaired by former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, featured two topics on Africa’s energy deficit and its flagging agribusiness sector.  A Special Congregation was also held immediately following the lecture.

While discussing the topic ‘Challenges for Energy Transitions’, Dr Yumkella revealed that Africa’s energy demand is expected to increase by 75% in tandem with a projected 1.4 billion increase in the continent’s population by 2030. According to Dr Yumkella, the present energy deficit has left 1.3 billion people on the continent without access to energy, and 2.7 billion people in Africa and Asia heavily dependent on biofuels such as firewood, charcoal, and cow dung, for their cooking and heating needs.

Dr Yumkella noted that Sustainable Development Goal #7 of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all is the fulcrum on which Africa’s ability to thoroughly achieve the rest of the Sustainable Development Goals, depends on.

According to him, Africa cannot truly industrialise and educate its people without access to power. He cited the example of Nigeria and the increased cost of production its industries experience as a result of having to fuel production with generators, a factor that makes it doubly hard for Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries to compete with their counterparts in places where access to uninterrupted power supply is guaranteed.

Dr Yumkella noted that because of energy deficits, even chocolate produced in Ghana is more expensive than chocolate produced and exported to Ghana by countries which depend on its raw cocoa. Similarly, though nearly 30% of new fossil fuel discoveries in the past 5 years were made in sub-Saharan Africa, most of this fuel is exported despite the deficit, or wasted. He blamed institutional barriers and the lack of a coordinated effort or a long- term vision for sustainable investment and development, and suggested that an integrated multi-stakeholder and cross-sector approach to energy poverty was needed to achieve energy transitions in these countries.

Dr Yumkella urged all present, particularly the students to challenge their governments for increased access to energy.  He reminded them that Africa has all the resources to be a vital part of the energy revolution.

Discussing the second topic of his lecture, ’Transforming Africa’s Agriculture and Agribusiness’, Dr Yumkella noted that manufacturing must play a dynamic role in the economic  development of Africa  and that alongside its role in stimulating economic growth, agribusiness and  agro-industrial development has the potential to contribute  substantially to poverty reduction and improved social outcomes.

To make such a goal a reality, Dr Yumkella, revealed that agribusiness needs to be made relevant to all sectors in a given country and a range of policies, institutions, and services need to be developed which are more relevant to agribusiness.

The 2017 Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lecturer, after his two day lecture series, delivered on March 21-22, 2017, received a standing ovation. 

Prof. Clifford Tagoe, in his closing remarks as Chairman for the lecture, thanked Dr. Yumkella for an illuminating discourse.  His sentiments were reiterated by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, who urged Dr. Yumkella to be an ambassador the University of Ghana in his future endeavours. 


Prof. Clifford Tagoe

After an enthusiastic interlude by the Ghana Dance Ensemble, the Vice-Chancellor declared the Special Congregation open, and in a brief but poignant ceremony, and as is customary of the University,  conferred on Dr Kandeh Yumkella an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

In his acceptance speech, Dr Yumkella expressed his gratitude for the award.

The University made a presentation to Dr. Yumkella, who in turn, presented a copy of his book, co-edited with Patrick M. Kormawa, Torbem M. Roepstorff and Anthony M. Hawkins, Agribusiness for Africa’s Prosperity”, published by UNIDO, to the Vice-Chancellor.

uniBank has proudly sponsored the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures for the past three years and the continuing partnership has enabled the University organize successful lectures.

The Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures, is a major event on the academic calendar of the University of Ghana.  It was instituted in 1957, to commemorate the contribution made by the three persons memorialized to the founding of Achimota College, now Achimota School, and more generally to the advancement of education and particularly higher education in Ghana.  The three persons, namely James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey, Alexander G. Fraser and Gordon Guggisberg.


 Dr Kandeh Yumkella in a pose with Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu after being conferered the Honorary Degree

Dr. and Mrs. Yumkella  in a group picture with officials of the University before the lecture


A section of the audience at the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg lecture



Please click here to access Dr. Kandeh Yumkella’s Profile

Please click here to access Day 1 of the lecture

Please click here to access Day 2 of the lecture