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ICP Asks Akon Of Diamond Mine Purchase, He Replies on Reform, Yumkella Running

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 20 -- When the UN's “Sustainable Energy For All” endeavor held a public press conference during its nearly four day event on May 20, prominent on the podium was musician and business figure Akon, talking about African villages buying solar power systems from his enterprise, with a $1 billion line of credit, on the payment plan.

  Inner City Press asked Akon about having also bought a diamond mine -- was that also a social enterprise? Akon answered in that direction, saying he bought the mine in order to challenge or clean up the industry, citing blood diamonds. Video here and embedded below.

  The answer is an evolution from what Akon said about the mine, and blood diamonds, back in 2007:

 "I don't even believe in conflict diamonds. That's just a movie. Think about it. Ain't nobody thought about nothing about no conflict diamonds until the movie came out. Where was all that shit before the movie? That's the problem with people - they believe everything they read or see on TV. It's no different from The Blair Witch Project. Everybody thought that was real. That campaign and marketing was incredible. After that, they're getting Oscars. Unless you go to Sierra Leone and see what's going down, don't believe everything you're reading or see on TV. Trust me."

  There was a Sierra Leone connection at the press conference: SE4ALL chief Kandeh Yumkella, whom Inner City Press asked about the organization's involvement in the campaign to end gas flaring by 2030. Yumkella answered excitedly about Shell and Total and ENI and Statoil signing on.

  To a question on Sierra Leone, IRENA's Adnan Amin said while the question was about President Koroma, there was another Sierra Leonean in the room, but he'd only talk about one president at a time.

 On March 15 of this year, Yumkella wrote to UN staff:

“A few months ago I informed the Secretary-General that I would like to step down as his Special Representative and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All as of July 2015. He has now graciously accepted my request and the announcement will be made soon.
“It has not been an easy decision to end my 19-year career serving humanity under the auspices of the UN system, including as Director General of UNIDO. But I believe it is now time for me to go home to serve my people in Sierra Leone."

 We'll have more on this. Watch this site.


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